How to Become a Cinema Projectionist

Cinema projectionists work in movie theaters where they operate equipment, such as projectors and sound and lighting systems. They focus on providing cinemagoers with smooth and enjoyable viewing experiences. To pursue this profession, you need to possess excellent technical and practical abilities.

What do Cinema Projectionists do?

The duties of cinema projectionists usually vary with cinemas. While projectionists working in digital cinemas have several computer-based duties, those in cinemas that use mechanical projectors and film reels have more physical duties. 

Therefore, projectionists in older cinemas;

  • Ensure films are in good condition
  • Thread films into projectors
  • Operate the projectors to adjust sound levels and image focus
  • Close down projectors and perform maintenance practices, such as oiling
  • Ensure efficient ventilation

While projectionists in digital cinemas;

  • Coordinate online delivery of films with distributors
  • Operating air conditioning and lighting systems
  • Ensure compliance with safety and health regulations
  • Operate digital projectors, usually using a computer.

Work Environment

Cinema projectionists spend their time in windowless and air-conditioned operating booths or projection boxes. Because cinemas often start airing films in the afternoon, projectionists work from noon to around midnight, all week long. Projectionists employed in large cinemas work in shifts.

While at work, cinema projectionists may need to work at heights to fix filming screens and adjust curtains. The work for projectionists in older cinemas may be strenuous due to the lifting and carrying of heavy film reels.


The following table highlights the average annual salaries for cinema projectionists.

Career Level

Potential Salary

Beginning projectionists

£12,000 - £17,000

Chief projectionists

Up to £22,000

Source: National Careers Service

Education and Training

You must be at least 18 years old to qualify for employment as a cinema projectionist, in compliance with the UK’s film classification laws.

Although you don’t need any formal qualifications to secure this job, most employers give entry tests to assess applicants’ technical abilities.

To boost your chances of passing these tests, you need to;

  • Pursue part-time courses in electronics, cameras or multimedia equipment
  • Update your knowledge of the movie industries in the UK, US and around the world.

Skills, Abilities and Competencies

To be an effective cinema projectionist, you should have;

  • Strong technical skills
  • Strong IT skills
  • Good eyesight and hearing ability
  • Good eye-hand coordination skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Quick reflexes and mechanical aptitudes

Career Progression

Although your employer will provide you with on-the-job training to boost your technical ability, ticketing and customer-service skills, you have to do more to increase your career advancement prospects.

You can pursue short, part-time courses to update your digital technology knowledge. Visit the BKSTSCTC website to gather more information on training programs for cinema projectionists.

Gradually, you can become a chief or head projectionist.

Employment Opportunities

Cinema projectionists can find jobs in the following places;

  • Movie theaters
  • Holiday camps
  • Cruise liners

Because the automation of cinemas will limit employment opportunities for projectionists, aspiring projectionists should focus on polishing their technical skills and updating industry knowledge to attract employers. Nonetheless, according to the National Careers Service, the UK’s sports and culture industry will create about 80,000 new jobs between 2014 and 2020, meaning cinema projectionists have strong employment prospects.