How to Become a DJ (Disc Jockey)

DJ Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $32,750
Avg. Pay / hour $15.75
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook -7%

If you have a love of music and are a creative person, you might like to become a DJ.

Also known as a disc jockey, DJ’s select mixes, and plays music for an audience at a party, radio station, or a nightclub.

To become a DJ you’ll have to know your music really well and also put a lot of time into learning your trade.

Working in the music industry is competitive, but also offers a lot of benefits, like admission to exclusive events and the admiration of your fans.

The most successful DJs have strong musical ability, and usually an extensive knowledge of music across many different genres.

Their occupation is usually something born out of their passion.

You’ll also need to be able to get an audience excited since a DJ is a musical performer just like any other.

Education Requirements to Become a DJ

You don’t need to get a degree to become a DJ; however you still need to spend some time preparing yourself.

Most DJs are either self-taught, or work closely with someone who is already working in the industry.

If you know someone who is a DJ, you might like to approach them and ask for advice on a career in the industry.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a DJ who is willing to be your mentor, and let you learn the trade from them.

You won’t get paid any money, but it’s one of the best ways to become a DJ.

If you don’t know someone who is already a DJ, don’t fret.

You can also teach yourself to become a DJ.

There are plenty of books on the subject, but techniques and styles change quickly in this field.

The best tool to help you on your own is the internet.

There are thousands of videos and articles around that will teach you the basics.

Learn about the different equipment and techniques.

Investing in some of this equipment and then practicing at home is a good way to start.

You’ll also need to build up a large catalogue of music, and keep up to date with new releases.

Attend functions where the kind of DJ that you want to be is playing, and then watch them closely.

When you feel like you’re ready, it’s time to start promoting yourself.

You could do this by starting a website, or placing ads in a newspaper.

It depends on the type of DJ you want to be.

You might approach clubs or bars in your area and offer your services.

DJ Job Description

Just as there are many different styles of music out there, there are also different types of DJ’s:

Radio DJ – Host radio segments, choose music, chat with listeners and write program content.

Club DJ’s – Play at nightclubs and bars, remix existing music, and work to create a smooth transition of music.

Event DJ’s – These DJs provide music at events like parties, public gatherings, and bars.

They usually have a range of mobile equipment they carry around with them.

Here are some of the tasks you might carry out as a DJ:

  • Finding new music
  • Creating remixes
  • Creating playlists
  • Learning mix and turntable techniques
  • Preparing a set
  • Attending events, parties, or nightclub
  • Performing a set
  • Communicating with club and event managers
  • Self-promotion and marketing

DJ Salary and Career Path

When you become a DJ, you could expect to start working at functions like birthday parties and weddings.

You might work at a local radio station doing the graveyard shift.

You could also get a job at a club on a quieter night.

Like with any job, you’ll need to gain experience and prove your skills before you get the high profile jobs.

As a DJ, you probably won’t get paid a lot in the beginning.

However, you have the capacity to earn a lot of money.

The big nightclub DJs get paid a lot of money to travel the world and play the music they love.

There are some radio DJs that earn six figure salaries.

If you have a bit of talent, and are prepared to put in a lot of hard work, then this could prove a very lucrative career.

Here are some similar careers to that of DJ:

It goes without saying, that if you want to become a DJ, then you are up for a bit of hard work.

Those that persevere can be rewarded well for their efforts, both with a career that they enjoy and a lucrative salary.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Connecticut- NA -
District of Columbia$102,460
New Hampshire$39,260
New Jersey$42,330
New Mexico$39,400
New York$108,420
North Carolina$55,720
North Dakota$46,670
Rhode Island$96,470
South Carolina$56,490
South Dakota$34,340
West Virginia$33,250
Puerto Rico$18,850

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $108,420.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $108,420
District of Columbia - $102,460
Rhode Island - $96,470
Utah - $79,450
Colorado - $78,710
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Broadcast Announcers and Radio Disc Jockeys, OCC Code 27-3011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a disk jockey?

A DJ, or disk jockey, is a person who plays recorded music for a live audience.

They use mixers to mix upcoming tracks with currently playing music and create seamless transitions between tracks.

The most common types of disk jockeys include radio DJs, club DJs, and turntablists.

Radio DJs introduce selected music during a radio program.

Club DJs usually perform at nightclubs and music festivals.

Turntablists use record players to manipulate sound on phonograph records.

How much does a disk jockey make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t record specific information about disk jockeys but they group them with announcers.

According to, the median annual salary for announcers who work in radio or television was $33,220 in May 2018.

However, salaries vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the market.

Some announcers earned less than $20,000 a year while others earned more than $90,000.

How much does it cost to become a disk jockey?

Although there are no specific educational requirements for disk jockeys, radio DJs usually hold a bachelor’s degree in journalism or a related field.

A four-year bachelor’s degree in journalism costs, on average, around $150,000.

If you want to be a club DJ, studying music and learning how to use the latest equipment in the field can help you get started.

Programs in recording arts are available at a number of trade schools and can cost you less than $20,000.

If you want to become a club DJ you will also need equipment which can cost you anywhere between $3000-$7000 and more, depending on the equipment you choose.

What is the demand for disk jockeys?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for announcers who work in radios is expected to decline 7 percent.

Radio stations sometimes use voice tracking to prerecord the music announcing segments rather than air them live and this reduces the number of radio DJs that are needed on the market.

The demand for live DJs, on the other hand, depends on the market and the region.

Better job opportunities should be available in big cities or regions that host many music events or festivals.

How long does it take to become a disk jockey?

The answer to this question depends on the type of DJ that you want to become.

If you want to work for a radio station you may need a degree in journalism which usually can be earned in around 4 years.

If you want to be a live DJ, then studying music or recording at a trade school may help you get started.

These types of programs usually can be completed in less than 2 years.

You should also take into account that it may take a few years until you make a name for yourself on the market.

As a beginner, you can start mixing for smaller events and, as you gain experience, you can move to larger events.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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