Sport, Fitness & Recreation

Disc Jockey or DJ

Disc jockeys play music for audiences at live venues such as clubs, restaurants and function centres, or entertain radio audiences.

  • Entry-level education

    Junior secondary school certificate or equivalent

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Disc Jockey or DJ do?

Disc jockeys, more commonly known as DJs, play music for audiences at live venues such as clubs, restaurants and function centres, or entertain radio audiences.

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Work activities

As a DJ you may use various formats including vinyl, CD or MP3, and a range of equipment such as turntables, mixers, microphones and amplifiers.

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 other performers who rap or sing over the music.

As a radio DJ or presenter, you would present a radio program 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.

Many music radio DJs also perform live as club DJs.

As a mobile DJ you would provide music and atmosphere at social events such as weddings and parties. You would take your own equipment and music to each venue you play at.

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Key skills and interests

To become a DJ, you would need:

  • a keen interest in music and knowledge of a broad range of music styles
  • a confident and outgoing personality
  • a good speaking voice
  • a good sense of timing and co-ordination
  • some understanding of technical equipment
  • the ability to ad-lib and 'think on your feet'
  • calmness under pressure.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

DJs work varied or unsocial hours. As a mobile or club DJ you would work mainly in the evenings and at weekends, often until the early hours of the morning.

In radio, hours depend on when your program is on-air, whether it is live or pre-recorded, and the amount of off-air preparation you do.

Conditions

Radio work is mainly in small air-conditioned studios.

As a mobile DJ you would mainly work in pubs, hotels and reception venues, and as a club DJ you would work in bars and nightclubs which can be hot and noisy.

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How to become an Disc Jockey or DJ?

Entry Level Education

You can work as a DJ without formal qualifications. It is rare to be able to make a full time career as a DJ.

In order to play in venues such as clubs, employers will generally expect that you already have up to 5 years’ experience. Many club DJs work casually alongside other full time jobs.

You can work in radio without formal qualifications. A good way to get experience is to volunteer at a community radio station. They offer you experience and often conduct their own short courses or training.

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Job outlook

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This is a specialised industry, and job opportunities as a DJ often depend on your own contacts and networks.

In radio, you may start in a junior level role in administration or production, and progress to a music presenter’s role after a number of years’ experience.

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