Cinematographers are one of the happiest careers in the United States.

At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, cinematographers rate their career happiness 4.1 out of 5 stars which puts them in the top 7% of careers.

To put this into perspective, we compared how happy cinematographers are to similar careers in the industry. Take a look at the results below:

Salaries and satisfaction ratings in similar careers

Career Satisfaction Avg Salary
Music producer
4.3
$34k
Film director
4.3
$79k
Filmmaker
4.1
$79k
Sculptor
4.1
$30k
Cinematographer
4.1
$40k
Craft artist
4.0
$36k
Cartoonist
4.0
$30k
Television writer
4.0
$70k

So what does it mean to be happy in your career? Let’s break it down into different dimensions:

  • Salary: Are cinematographers happy with their salary?
  • Meaning: Do cinematographers find their jobs meaningful?
  • Personality fit: How well suited are people’s personalities to their everyday tasks as cinematographers?
  • Work environment: How enjoyable are cinematographer’s work environments?
  • Skills utilization: Are cinematographers making the best use of their abilities?

Are cinematographers happy with their salary?

Cinematographers rated their satisfaction with their salaries 2.9/5. Cinematographers tend to be quite unhappy with their salary, with very few reporting satisfaction with their pay.

We asked cinematographers how fairly compensated they are for their work.
Their response was:

2.9 out of 5 stars

151 cinematographers

5 Star
14%

14% of cinematographers rated their compensation 5 stars

4 Star
18%

18% of cinematographers rated their compensation 4 stars

3 Star
31%

31% of cinematographers rated their compensation 3 stars

2 Star
23%

23% of cinematographers rated their compensation 2 stars

1 Star
15%

15% of cinematographers rated their compensation 1 stars

Do cinematographers find their jobs meaningful?

On average, cinematographers rate the meaningfulness of their work a 3.8/5. Unlike many careers, cinematographers have little difficulty finding meaning in their work, and it likely constitutes one of the main reasons people become cinematographers.

We asked cinematographers how meaningful they found their work.
Their response was:

3.8 out of 5 stars

156 cinematographers

5 Star
39%

39% of cinematographers rated how meaningful they found their career 5 stars

4 Star
24%

24% of cinematographers rated how meaningful they found their career 4 stars

3 Star
19%

19% of cinematographers rated how meaningful they found their career 3 stars

2 Star
12%

12% of cinematographers rated how meaningful they found their career 2 stars

1 Star
6%

6% of cinematographers rated how meaningful they found their career 1 stars

How well are people’s personalities suited to everyday tasks as cinematographers?

Cinematographers rated their personality fit with their work an average of 4.1/5. The majority of cinematographers find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

We asked cinematographers how well their personalities fit into their careers.
Their response was:

4.1 out of 5 stars

154 cinematographers

5 Star
41%

41% of cinematographers rated their career fit 5 stars

4 Star
37%

37% of cinematographers rated their career fit 4 stars

3 Star
16%

16% of cinematographers rated their career fit 3 stars

2 Star
5%

5% of cinematographers rated their career fit 2 stars

1 Star
1%

1% of cinematographers rated their career fit 1 stars

How enjoyable is a cinematographer’s work environment?

As a whole, cinematographers rated their enjoyment of their work environment 4.1/5. A solid majority of cinematographers enjoy their work environment, probably contributing to overall higher satisfaction with working as a cinematographer.

We asked cinematographers how much they enjoyed their work environment.
Their response was:

4.1 out of 5 stars

154 cinematographers

5 Star
41%

41% of cinematographers rated their work environment 5 stars

4 Star
33%

33% of cinematographers rated their work environment 4 stars

3 Star
19%

19% of cinematographers rated their work environment 3 stars

2 Star
5%

5% of cinematographers rated their work environment 2 stars

1 Star
2%

2% of cinematographers rated their work environment 1 stars

Are cinematographers making the best use of their abilities?

Former cinematographers on CareerExplorer have rated their skills utilization 3.9/5. Most cinematographers surveyed find that they manage to use their abilities to their fullest as a cinematographer, which helps contribute to higher career satisfaction in the long term.

We asked cinematographers how well their abilities were used in their careers.
Their response was:

3.9 out of 5 stars

155 cinematographers

5 Star
39%

39% of cinematographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 5 stars

4 Star
26%

26% of cinematographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 4 stars

3 Star
23%

23% of cinematographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 3 stars

2 Star
8%

8% of cinematographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 2 stars

1 Star
3%

3% of cinematographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 1 stars