Also known as
- Public Space CCTV Operator
As a CCTV Operator, you will be responsible for operating the CCTV cameras or any other surveillance equipment in a control centre.
You may use a keyboard or joystick to select and move the cameras remotely and to zoom in and out. You are also usually responsible for making sure that all equipment is working correctly.
You will watch carefully for things like criminal activity, suspicious or unusual behaviour, accidents and non-criminal incidents.
When you see one of these events, you will alert the Police, other Security Officers or another service (for example, the fire or ambulance service) as quickly as possible. You might use phones and two-way radio systems to do this.
CCTV Operators must give clear and correct descriptions of people, vehicles and incidents in a calm and professional manner.
You might be asked by the police to follow a suspect through a town centre from one CCTV camera to another. Or, you could be asked to keep watch on a building, street or open space if the police have information that some criminal activity might take place there.
You might have to deal with more than one person or incident at a time. You might be asked to search through footage from a particular camera between certain dates or times to see if an incident has been caught on camera.
CCTV Operators keep careful logs of observations and incidents. This might be handwritten and some might be typed into a computer system. You might also record and store video or digital recordings and still images securely, for use in evidence or in case they need to be checked after an incident.
CCTV Operators use their knowledge of relevant laws, for example, those relating to data protection, human rights and freedom of information, to operate cameras and record evidence in a legal and ethical way.
Some CCTV Operators might need to give evidence in court on some occasions.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a CCTV Operator, you'll need:
- to be honest, responsible, reliable and alert
- good observational skills
- excellent communication skills, including clear speech
- the ability to deal calmly with emergency situations
- common sense, curiosity and a practical approach
- to be able to keep clear written records
- practical skills to operate cameras and recording equipment
- an interest in law
- to be able to work well on your own and in a team
- the ability to concentrate throughout either a day-shift or night-shift
- to keep information confidential
- some IT and keyboard skills
You'll need good eyesight and hearing.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £18,000 - £19,500
- With experience: £21,500 - £25,000
- Senior CCTV Operators earn £27,500 - £30,500
Hours of work
CCTV Operators work 39 to 42 hours a week, including shift work, nights, weekends and bank holidays. Overtime is a fairly common feature for all Security Officers.
Where could I work?
- local authorities
- private security firms
- police forces
- commercial and industrial establishments
- Property Estate Owners
- government departments
Opportunities for CCTV Operators occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, on websites such as LGJobs, on job boards, such as JobSecurity.co.uk, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
Public Space Surveillance CCTV Operators working under contract are regulated and licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), and must hold a SIA licence to operate legally.
To obtain a SIA licence, CCTV Operators must be at least 18, take approved training, attain a national qualification in their sector and pass an identity and criminal records check. A SIA licence is issued for three years.
Employers usually carry out a detailed screening of the history of the applicant.
An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start. You may be able to take a vocational qualification, such as a NVQ, as part of your apprenticeship. Take a look at our information article
The SIA endorses awarding bodies that offer qualifications and approve trainers; it has a list of training providers approved by the awarding bodies to offer the level 2 award in CCTV operations (public space surveillance).
The training covers:
- the role and responsibilities of CCTV Operators
- codes of practice and procedures
- CCTV equipment and its operation
- dealing with incidents
- surveillance techniques
- emergency procedures
- health and safety
There is a certificate in providing security services at level 2 that can be taken while in employment.
Previous experience in a security environment will be useful for this career. Experience working as a Police Officer, Prison Officer, Firefighter or in the armed forces would be really helpful for this career.
CCTV Operators can progress to Team Leader, Supervisor and Manager posts.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Working as a public space CCTV Operator under contract is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
Not all criminal records will prevent you from applying for an SIA licence. If you have a criminal record, the SIA will look at how recent, how serious and how relevant the record is. The SIA has a Criminal Record Indicator on its website where you can check anonymously whether you would be eligible for an SIA licence.
To get onto an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need at least 2 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
A relevant work-related qualification, such as a BTEC or City & Guilds level 2 qualification might be accepted for entry.
Age limits apply to this occupation. Contracted public space CCTV operators must be at least 18 years of age to hold a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence.
Intermediate Level Apprenticeships in Providing Security Services might be available in your area.
Some applicants have a police, prison officer, firefighter or armed forces background.
Level 2 awards for CCTV operators are available from a large number of providers throughout the UK.
Short courses normally last four days, delivered during weekdays, weekends and/or in evening sessions.
A list of training providers is available from the SIA website.
If you already have some form of UK qualification in CCTV operation, or you have worked in a CCTV control room within the last three years, you could be exempt from all or part of the SIA approved training. Full details of exemptions are available on the SIA website.
- 16% of people in occupations such as CCTV operator work part-time.
- 3% have flexible hours.
- 6% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Local government vacancies
myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies
International Professional Security Association (IPSA)
Address: Railway House, Railway Road, Chorley, Lancashire PR6 0HW
Tel: 0845 8738114
Security Industry Authority (SIA)
Address: PO Box 1293, Liverpool L69 1AX
Tel: 0844 8921025
Skills for Security
Address: Security House, Barbourne Road, Worcester WR1 1RS
Tel: 01905 744000
Careers in the Private Security Industry
Publisher: International Professional Security Association (IPSA)
Professional Security Magazine
Publisher: JTC Associates
Tel: 01922 415233
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844