Around this time every year, Televisual do a survery to work out what salaries and day rates people get working in the television industry in the UK. Here are the results for this year's survery for camera operators:
Indie TV production, camera operator: £29,250
Broadcaster, camera operator: £31,125
Facilities (OB, studio etc) camera operator: £39,250
Corporate production, camera operator £38,006
These salaries strike me as pretty low, so it is worth considering the same Televisual survey from the previous year. This year's survey only had the one job title of "camera operator", whereas last year's survey had camera operator and DOP, however, they didn't split the industry into fields (such as indie/broadcaster/corporate etc). The results for these in 2012 were as follows:
Camera operator: £36,113
Looking at earnings as averages is obviously tricky for a career like that of a camera operator or DOP as there are huge variables, as proof of this, in the Televisual video from 2012 they also mention a DOP from their survey with a salary of £200,000. The main variables are the kind of work you do, and the kit you own. A busy DOP working on commercials is obviously going to earn a lot more than a cameraman just starting out, shooting small corporate jobs.
Working as an owner operator with kit, is more like running a small business, with larger risks and more variable earnings. If you make the right decisions and buy the right kit, you are likely to make far more than the average OB or studio cameraman whose day rate can only go so high. Equally, make the wrong decisions and buy kit that you can't get on jobs and you could even make a loss.
To read the full 2013 earnings report go here.