Disc jockey, djay
DJs play music for audiences in live venues, at events or on the radio.
Salary range: Variable
How to become a DJ
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- applying directly
- specialist training courses
You could start by doing a college course. This will give you some of the skills needed to work with sampling equipment, mixers, digital controllers and decks. Courses include:
- Level 2 Certificate in Music Technology
- Level 2 Certificate in Radio
- Level 3 Diploma in Creative and Digital Media
Colleges and community education centres also often run short workshops in DJ-ing and recording skills.
You may need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
Volunteering and experience
Getting experience will help you to develop your skills and make contacts in the industry. You can do this by:
- working on student, community or hospital radio stations
- volunteering to DJ at events like parties, weddings and charity shows
- working as a DJ on an internet radio station
- volunteering to work as a roadie for an experienced DJ
- posting mixes to online video and music streaming sites to get noticed
You can also find work experience placements through the BBC Work Experience Scheme, or by contacting broadcasters to ask about opportunities. The Radiocentre can help you find commercial radio stations.
You can apply directly for work as a DJ by contacting bars, clubs and radio stations. You’ll need to showcase your mixing and presenting skills, for example through your own online music channel or by posting mixes on music streaming sites.
You can take training courses or attend DJ workshops, which are offered by private music training providers that specialise in DJ skills, music technology and sound recording.
Do your research and make sure that your demo mixes fit in with a venue’s music policy or the type of music on a radio station’s playlist.
You can get more advice about becoming a DJ from:
You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of media production and communication
- knowledge of English language
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- to be flexible and open to change
- knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
- the ability to use your initiative
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
As a club DJ you might:
- play and mix records in clubs or bars, to create atmosphere or keep people dancing
- choose music to suit your audience’s taste and the venue’s music policy
- operate lighting and visual effects in time to the beat
- create your own sounds by manipulating beats, using samples, adding extra music and sound effects
- work with an MC who raps or sings over the music
As a radio DJ or presenter, you’ll present a radio programme in your own style. You could:
- choose the music to be played
- keep up an entertaining and natural flow of chat
- interact with the audience through phone-ins, emails, texts and social media
- keep to a very tight timing schedule
- interview studio guests
- operate studio equipment to play music, pre-recorded news, jingles and advertisements (known as ‘driving the desk’)
- discuss ideas with the producer, write scripts and prepare playlists for future shows
You could work at events, on festival sites, at a music venue or at a recording studio.
Your working environment may be hot, noisy and cool.
Career path and progression
As a successful club DJ, you could move into music producing and recording, club promoting, working for a record label or starting your own label.
As an established radio DJ, you could get involved in other types of media work, like TV presenting.