Disc Jockey (DJ): Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Disc jockeys (DJs) require some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if DJing at a radio station is the right career for you.

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An associate's or bachelor's degree in radio broadcasting can be helpful for job candidates who are first breaking into the industry, however many employers prefer to hire applicants with work experience as well. An internship or a job with a college radio station could be very helpful for gaining experience.

Essential Information

Disc jockeys, also known as DJs, broadcast music over radio stations. They must ensure that commercials, interviews and commentary are delivered on time, per a schedule set by management. This career typically requires a strong personality and a clear voice. Aspiring DJs usually complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in a field like radio broadcasting or journalism. Work experience is also important in this career field, and degree programs typically include internships to help students get experience at radio stations.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Radio experience
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -14% for radio and TV announcers
Median Salary (2015)* $30,960 for radio and TV announcers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Disc Jockey Job Description

Disc jockeys often work for radio stations in soundproof studios. They might specialize in a certain type of music, such as classic rock, pop or contemporary R&B. Experienced disc jockeys sometimes get to choose which time slot they want to work, but most of those just starting out in the field have to take night or early morning shifts.

Others working in the disc jockey profession are self-employed and use their own equipment to provide entertainment at nightclubs or restaurants. They also might supply music and sound system services at special events, such as weddings and corporate banquets.

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Job Duties of a Disc Jockey

With the use of technology today, most radio broadcasts are timed and automated. Thus, a disc jockey mainly ensures that his or her program is running smoothly, while occasionally speaking live to the audience. This might include holding radio contests, taking song requests, questioning callers and performing interviews.

Disc jockeys sometimes appear at live events, such as concerts or radio station-sponsored parties. They also tend to take part in a variety of other promotional events, which can be held in locations as varied as shopping malls, parks or parking lots. Additionally, disc jockeys may be required to make updates to their radio stations' websites.

DJ Job Requirements

An associate's or bachelor's degree program in radio broadcasting can familiarize aspiring disc jockeys with software and equipment used in this field, and classes in business and marketing can teach them to target certain demographics and draw in new listeners. Additionally, many employers look for job candidates with substantial experience. Prospective DJs can gain entry-level experience through jobs at college, university or small-market radio stations or internships at larger stations.

Beyond training and experience requirements, a disc jockey must have excellent communication skills and be able to maintain a pleasant and controlled voice with good pronunciation and word timing. A DJ also needs to stay current on news and entertainment events.

DJ Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that radio and TV announcing positions (which included disk jockeys) were expected to decline by 14% from 2014-2024. Job candidates with a degree in journalism, communications or broadcasting should have the best opportunities. Radio and television announcers made a median salary of $30,960 per year in May 2015.

In addition to an undergraduate degree in broadcasting, excellent enunciation, an extroverted personality and a thorough knowledge of topics within a radio program's theme are often essential ingredients for success as a disc jockey. Jobs in this field are projected to drop over the coming years, and the median salary for radio announcers was about $31,000 in 2015.

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