The National Football League is king when it comes to broadcasting. The cash cow that goes hand in hand with the Super Bowl nearly makes up half of all prime time viewing, and their presence throughout the year provides a solid platform for thousands of sports journalists to make a name for themselves. However, what most people don’t know is that there are several different entry-level jobs one can take on before working your way to becoming an NFL cameraman.
Before you start this journey you should ask yourself if this is what you really want because after graduating college with plenty of debt to pay off, finding steady work as an NFL cameraman isn’t always easy. That being said the rewards are immeasurable and are best felt through self-satisfaction.
The job outlook is good for NFL cameramen, as the industry is one that continues to grow yearly. Even with user-generated content on the rise, the must-see moments that are captured by professional NFL cameramen are something people want and pay for.
While it may be easy to find entry-level opportunities, like any other job in journalism you’ll need some form of experience before getting hired anywhere reputable. The earlier you can get your foot in the door with an organization or print publication covering sports will go a long way in helping make your dream become a reality.
Let’s start off with some options you have available since most likely if someone starts out looking for jobs as an NFL cameraman they probably don’t have much free time.
Most internships are unpaid, but if you can find an opportunity to do an internship with them it will be worth your time. You’ll get to see what really goes on behind the scenes and maybe even pick up some networking skills in the process.
Print publications rely heavily on freelancers so there’s plenty of room for growth in that sector before having to move into a full-time position somewhere else. If you can get hired by newspapers or magazines covering sports that would be ideal because they’re normally the platform where established NFL cameramen start out before moving their way up.
If you want to stay strictly online then sites like Bleacher Report, USA Today Sports Media Group (formerly Yardbark), or SB Nation might be the best way to go. These are great websites that can offer exposure and help you get started on your journey to becoming an NFL cameraman, but the pay isn’t always very good.
Sports broadcasting stations like Comcast Sportsnet or NBC also hire interns for their sports department before getting hired onto the broadcast team itself. There’s plenty of room for advancement here so if this is what you want to don’t hesitate in applying.
There are several different roles one can take while working towards becoming an NFL cameraman, but if you’re just starting out it will be difficult to get opportunities within these positions right away so start at entry-level and work your way up. Here are some available jobs that could help you get started:
Camera Operator: this is the person responsible for holding and operating one of the stationary cameras at a game. This position requires someone who can work well under pressure, has steady hands, and knows how to get great angles without getting in the way.
Assignment Desk Assistant: this job involves coordinating events between camera operators, producers, backstage crew members, managers, players/coaches/scouts, etc. It’s basically an internal customer service position that deals with anything related to scheduling in order to make sure all coverage goes smoothly behind the scenes.
Production Assistant (PA): these are entry-level employees that go above and beyond just running errands for production staff. While not required to go through training classes like others on set they are responsible for helping set up equipment, moving cables out of the way, getting water for everyone involved in filming, etc.
Center Field/Touchdown Technician: this is an important role that requires someone who can identify any issues with camera placement or angles before they become noticeable to viewers. They are responsible for adjusting cameras as necessary either manually during a game or remotely via remote control systems offsite.
Studios/Soundstage Camera Operator: these positions are very similar to Camera Operator jobs mentioned above, but typically work in confined spaces away from the action on the field where multiple cameras will be needed to capture content at once.
Multimedia Journalist (MMJ): these are television journalists who aid Sports Reporters by filing video reports using their own camera and editing skills. They do everything from pre-game to post-game interviews, sideline reporting or player features, depending on the team or station they’re working for.
Play by Play Announcer: a sports reporter who gives a play-by-play account of what’s going on live during events using facts, anecdotes, and color commentary.
Sideline Reporter: a reporter whose job is to report news related to players or teams at games via reports done in real-time as things happen through audio/visual media. This is an important role because it helps enhance the viewer experience with informational tidbits that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Color Analyst: this commentator provides expert analysis of sports topics along with play-by-play announcers. He or she will give their personal opinion on what happened, why it happened, and how things should have gone instead.