How to Become a Broadcast DJ: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a broadcast DJ. Research the job description and the education requirements and find out how to start a career in radio broadcasting. View article »

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  • 0:04 Broadcast DJ Career Info
  • 1:24 Earn College Degree
  • 2:46 Complete Internship
  • 3:22 Find Work
  • 4:04 Join Association

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Video Transcript

Broadcast DJ Career Info

Broadcast DJs operate complex studio equipment to present news, weather reports, commercials, and commentary across the airways. Writing and then reading scripts on the air are among their job responsibilities. Broadcast DJs might interview guests in the studio or lead discussions on current events and issues. Their professional duties can extend beyond the radio studio to making promotional appearances at public events. The tasks of broadcast DJs often include posting on social networks and updating the radio station's website. Self-employed broadcast DJs can work from home, recording their shows and then selling them to radio or television networks. Working directly for a radio or television station could mean early morning or late night hours, though these broadcast DJs are able to work in a climate-controlled recording studio.

These professionals should have the ability to ad lib, knowledge of current events or music, good diction and appealing voice, solid writing and communication skills, and the ability to run studio and editing equipment. As of 2015, radio and television announcers in the United States earned a median annual salary of $30,960, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Earn a College Degree

Getting a bachelor's degree may help aspiring broadcast DJs contend for beginning jobs in this competitive field. Broadcasting, journalism, and communications are common majors for aspiring radio DJs. Some schools offer associate's degree programs that train students for careers in radio broadcasting.

Degree programs typically merge classroom studies with hands-on experience in broadcasting and operating studio equipment at campus radio stations. Degree programs may teach concepts needed for on-air positions, offering training in diction, announcing, and creating a radio personality that appeals to listeners. Students may also learn behind-the-scenes skills needed for management, production, and sales positions at radio stations. Students generally study digital production methods, streaming audio, satellite radio, and other new technologies. Courses may also include various music genres, public speaking, computer usage in the radio industry, and writing methods aimed at radio audiences.

Taking courses in public speaking, acting, and English will improve the speaking style, grammar, and writing abilities of aspiring broadcast DJs. Those are important career skills for DJs and could make graduates more appealing to prospective employers at radio stations.

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Complete Internship

Some radio stations prefer hiring broadcast DJs who have completed internship programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Internships offer students the opportunity to practice the technical skills learned in an academic program within a real-world environment. Internships may forge networking and career contacts that assist graduates in finding employment following college. Graduates may also use work samples gained during internships to show their skills to potential employers. Some internships are paid positions, and some offer credit toward a degree.

Find Work

Some beginning DJs break into the radio industry by accepting jobs that do not involve on-air announcing, such as technical positions working with equipment. Many broadcast DJs launch their on-air careers in small markets at radio stations where promotional opportunities are limited. Job advancement often requires moving to a radio station in a larger media market. Working several years at a smaller station allows radio DJs to polish their on-air persona, attract an audience, and become more relaxed and personable behind the microphone. After gaining experience, DJs might move to a larger radio station and higher salary in a bigger market.

Join Association

Professional broadcasting organizations, such as the National Association of Broadcasters, offer networking opportunities, professional development training, and discount services. Broadcasting associations may provide political advocacy on behalf of their members. Some organizations recognize exemplary radio performances and radio stations during award ceremonies. In addition to national organizations, states typically have trade associations for broadcasting professionals.

To recap, aspiring broadcast DJs aren't required to have any particular educational experience, though earning a degree in broadcasting or a similar field can help them to secure internships, gain hands-on experience in a smaller market, and move up in the field.

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