A projectionist


Projectionists operate and maintain projection equipment in cinema theatres. They inspect the movie films before loading them into the projector. Projectionist make sure that everything runs smoothly during the projection of the movie. They also are responsible for the proper storage of movie films.

Projectionists typically do the following duties:

  • Receive films for inspection and make a note of any technical issues for repairs.
  • Oversee every aspect of technical operations at the cinema venue such as ventilation, fire alarms, heating and lighting.
  • Ensure that cinema screenings are in compliance with Health and Safety regulations and requirements.
  • Turn on the projector and confirm that images are the right size and in-focus for easy viewing.
  • Arrange for other technicians such as a repair person to visit the site for replacing parts and fixing existing equipment.

The job of projectionist once involved physical film wound on reels that had to be loaded onto a projector. Over recent decades, the job has been transformed by digital technology. Movie audiences benefit from the improved picture and sound that come with digital screenings, but the trade-off for projectionists is that many of their traditional job duties have been eliminated. The job now revolves creating a weekly playlist that will automatically run preview, ads and feature films at the appropriate times throughout the day.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to projectionist:

projector booth operator
digital cinema projectionist
cinema projectionist
projection operator
booth operator
movie projector operator
film projectionist
projector operator
projection technician

Minimum qualifications

There are no formal education requirements or credential for the job of projectionist. Employers provide on-the-job training as needed, depending on how their theater operates. Projectionists are expected to learn the playlist creation software provided by their employer. Other technical skills that may be needed include familiarity with internet browsers and common Microsoft Office apps like Excel and Word.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Projectionist is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Projectionist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to projectionist.

boom operator
camera operator
desalination technician
fire safety tester
hydroelectric plant operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of projectionist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of projectionist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

lighting director
materials engineer
movie distributor
broadcast news editor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of projectionist.

  • Projection equipment: The different types of projection equipment, their properties, and usages.
  • Health and safety regulations: Necessary health, safety, hygiene and environmental standards and legislation rules in the sector of particular activity.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of projectionist.

  • Load film reels: Load the film reels into the projector and unload them after the projection.
  • Check film reels: Check if film reels are in perfect condition upon arrival and register them according company guidelines.
  • Adjust projector: Adjust the controls of projection equipment to obtain a clear and well-positioned image.
  • Operate projector: Operate projection equipment manually or with a control panel.
  • Store film reels: Store a film reels safely after projection and after removing the markings.
  • Apply health and safety standards: Adhere to standards of hygiene and safety established by respective authorities.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of projectionist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Optics: The science that studies the elements and reaction of light.
  • Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
  • Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of projectionist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

3521 – Broadcasting and audiovisual technicians

  1. Projectionist – ESCO
  2. Duties of a Projectionist – Chron
  3. Featured image: By Paul Keller – originally posted to Flickr as projectionist, CC BY 2.0
Last updated on February 22, 2023

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