A CCTV (closed circuit television) operator works in a central control room, monitoring and controlling a bank of screens. These are linked to surveillance cameras placed in public places, buildings and places such as construction sites, to detect and prevent crime, and protect people.

The Work

You could be:

  • sitting in front of a bank of up to 15 screens, constantly monitoring the live pictures that come in from the surveillance cameras
  • operating the position of the cameras, for example if a cash machine is about to be emptied, you would focus the camera on the security guard
  • monitoring anyone acting suspiciously, and alerting security staff or police if you see an act of theft, vandalism or any other crime
  • monitoring cleaning staff working in large empty buildings for their safety
  • notifying the police of any anti-social behaviour
  • keeping a log of all incidents to pass onto police
  • called to give evidence in court as a witness.


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

  • where you work
  • the size of the company or organisation you work for
  • the demand for the job.

The starting salary is often based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

As of 1 April 2020 the National Minimum Wage is £4.55 an hour for workers aged 16 to 17, £6.45 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and £8.20 an hour for workers aged 21 to 24. The National Living Wage is £8.72 for workers aged 25 and over.

With experience, you could earn up to £11.00 an hour. You may get a shift allowance.


  • You would work indoors in a central control room in front of a number of screens.
  • You would be expected to work shifts to cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many jobs advertised are for 12 hour shifts with 4 days on and 4 days off.
  • You may work in a team of operators or on your own.
  • You would keep in frequent contact with colleagues through telephone and radio contact.

Workforce Employment StatusSelf Emp.: 7.4%Full time: 70.9%Part time: 21.6%

Emp TypeEmployed
Self Emp.: 7.4%15,858
Full time: 70.9%151,635
Part time: 21.6%46,240

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Getting In

  • There are no formal entry requirements.
  • Previous experience in a security position may be useful but is not necessary.
  • A Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) Licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is required to work as a CCTV operator. Some employers will expect you to already have this licence.
  • To qualify for this licence you must be aged 18 or over. You will also need to pass an identity check, a criminal record check and have achieved an SIA approved Award for Working as a CCTV Operator (Public Space Surveillance) in the Private Security Industry (Scotland) at SCQF Level 6.
  • To achieve this you must study three mandatory modules, which take 32 hours to complete.
  • See the SIA website for a list of accredited Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) qualifications.

Jobs are often with local authorities which will be advertised on myjobscotland website. There are also jobs with Police Scotland in some areas. See their website for current vacancies.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)010203040PostgraduateDegreeHNC/HNDHigher/SVQNational 5/SVQNational 4/SVQEntry Level3%3%11%11%7%7%21%21%31%31%18%18%8%8%

National 5/SVQ31
National 4/SVQ18
Entry Level8

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Job Outlook Scotland




Dec 20180.42%
Sep 20190.27%

Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)

LMI data powered by EMSI UK

Job Outlook Scotland


160311.7 %



LMI data powered by EMSI UK

What Does it Take?

You should be:

  • alert and observant
  • able to work alone without supervision
  • able to concentrate over long periods
  • discreet, never discussing anything you see on the monitors with anyone outside work
  • able to remain calm under pressure
  • able to react quickly
  • computer literate
  • able to work in a team and alone.

You should have:

  • excellent communication skills
  • a responsible approach.


Training is usually on the job. Your employer may put you through the qualifications necessary to obtain the Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) Licence.

Getting On

Working in a large organisation may give you better potential for promotion to supervisor or manager.



The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Security Industry Authority (SIA)
Website: http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk
Twitter: @SIAuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesiauk/

The website has an online step-by-step guide to applying for a licence.

Skills for Security (including SITO)
Tel: 01905 744000
E-mail: info@skillsforsecurity.org.uk
Website: http://www.skillsforsecurity.org.uk
Twitter: @Skills4Security

Skills for Security is the Sector Skills Council for the security business sector.