How to Become a Radio Disc Jockey: Step-by-Step Career Guide
Learn how to become a radio disc jockey. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as a radio disc jockey.
Radio Disc Jockey Requirements
A radio disc jockey (DJ) works for radio stations and selects and broadcasts music for an audience. Radio DJs may specialize in a specific type of music, such as rock and roll, R&B, rap, country, soft rock or alternative. In addition to music, radio DJs may also make comments about any news related to politics, pop culture or sports and inform their audience about weather and traffic. While DJs don't need to complete any formal education requirements, opportunities are available on college campuses that can assist them with their future career endeavors. As a student, individuals can participate in internships or work for the campus radio station. The table below includes information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) about how to become a radio DJ.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree is typically preferred|
|Degree Name||Communications, broadcast journalism|
|Experience||Experience as a DJ will be valued over education|
|Key Skills||Good communication and interpersonal skills as well as exceptional articulation and pronunciation|
|Computer Skills||Must be proficient with computers, broadcast-related equipment and editing equipment|
|Technical Skills||Prospective DJs must be able to operate a sound board that will feature advertisements, sound effects and music|
Step 1: Complete an Undergraduate Program
Students who are interested in becoming a radio DJ can enroll in an associate's or bachelor's degree program that will prepare them to work in the broadcast industry. Depending on the school, students can enroll in a communications or broadcast journalism degree program. Students will take courses in radio announcing, speech, news reporting, broadcast writing and media research. Although associate degrees are offered, according to the BLS, this is a competitive field in which bachelor's degrees are necessary to be competitive even for entry-level jobs.
Step 2: Do an Internship
Colleges and universities may offer students an opportunity to participate in an internship with a radio station. While an internship may not offer students a chance to get on air, they'll learn behind-the-scenes aspects of working at a radio station. This will also give them a chance to network and develop contacts in the industry.
Step 3: Get on the Air
Prospective radio DJs need to get experience on air, and students may be able to find opportunities with their campus radio station. College radio stations typically provide a hands-on environment where students may gain real-world experience in the broadcast field. These stations often broadcast 24 hours a day. Students learn about FCC rules, broadcasting law and ethics as well as personnel management and station programming while being provided with a chance to get on air.
Put together a reel. In order to obtain a job, you'll need a reel. Edit some of your best work into a reel and send it out to prospective employers. No matter what experience or education you have, radio stations will need to hear what you sound like on the air and how you communicate with an audience.
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