A disc jockey, or DJ, plays music and hosts programs on the radio, in clubs or at special events. Radio station DJs work for private or college broadcast stations, in studios full of equipment and music libraries. Club and mobile entertainment DJs may work for a DJ company, but generally own their own businesses. Mobile DJs often bring their own sound equipment and music to events.
Radio DJs may be responsible for a regular music show at a particular time. They may be in charge of music selection, news announcements, weather information and traffic updates. As a radio DJ, you might run contests, interview guests and take listener requests. For special events, you may also have to broadcast live, on location, using a specially equipped broadcasting vehicle.
Club and mobile DJs provide entertainment for a live audience. DJs at weddings and other private parties play music, offer chances for audience participation and help fill downtime with humorous banter. Club DJs play the latest music at social venues, including clubs, cafes and pubs. They may live-mix their own music (also known as "spinning").
A DJ must be able improvise when interacting with his audience. You should be able to gauge the atmosphere and mood at your event to determine the type of music to play. DJs need to know how use sound equipment (microphones, mixers, turn tables, digital players and the like) to control music's tempo (measured in beats per minute) and tone, along with mixing (blending songs or vocals from microphones together) and cueing (setting up the next song). You should also develop a signature style to help you stand out and gain attention, especially if you are a club DJ.
Education and experience
Radio DJ positions may require an associate or bachelor's degree in broadcasting from a university or technical college. Formal training helps you develop your style and learn technical skills. Coursework should include communication, computer science, English, drama and public speaking. DJs can also gain experience through internships at university radio stations or through assistant positions for private DJ companies.
According to the National Careers Service, the pay may be low when you first start out as a DJ, but rises to £200 to £300 per session with experience. Your salary will vary depending on your location, broadcast market, employer size, responsibilities, education and experience. If you're successful and build a strong reputation, it could rise to £1,000 per session or more.
The Careers Service predicts that the numbers employed in the "sports and culture" sector will increase by over 60,000 between 2014 and 2020, however, this includes more than just DJs. You can still expect keen competition for the available DJ jobs. Beginners find more opportunities at smaller radio stations. Internet broadcasting and hybrid digital (HD) radio, which uses satellites for broadcasting, also offer opportunities for DJs. Special event DJs and club DJs will face less competition, but these positions only offer part-time income.