DJ

disc jockey radio presenter radio host
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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You’d entertain people and get them dancing by playing music at in clubs, at events, or on the radio.

You’d select music you think the audience will like. You’d use different formats including vinyl, CD or MP3, and a range of equipment such as turntables, mixers, microphones and amplifiers to play it.

You’d need to play the music, get the next tracks ready and perhaps respond to requests or chat with radio guests, while operating the equipment.

As a club DJ you would play and mix records in clubs or bars, to create a fun atmosphere or keep people dancing. You’d choose music to suit your audience’s taste and the venue’s music policy.

You might:

  • 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 would present a radio programme in your own style.

You would

  • 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 radio DJs also perform live as club DJs.

As a mobile DJ you would play music at social events such as weddings and parties. You would take your own equipment and music to each venue you played at. You’d probably discuss the music choices with the people organising the event.

Working conditions

Hours

You would often 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 programme is on-air, whether it is live or pre-recorded, and the amount of off-air preparation you do.

Environment

As a mobile DJ you would mainly work in pubs, hotels and halls, and as a club DJ you would work in bars and nightclubs which can be hot and noisy. Radio work is mainly in small air-conditioned studios.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Performing
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Time management

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There are no set entry requirements but it helps to have some subjects at National 4 or 5 (SCQF level 4/5).

Some applicants undertake courses prior to applying to help develop their skills in this area.

Some applicants have undertaken a course within a relevant area. You can enter sound production, music technology or Sound Engineering National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF levels 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications. 

You will need a love of music, and to build up knowledge of music technology and what the current music trends are. You’ll also need to start building your collection of music and equipment. 

You will also need to develop your own style as a DJ, based on your personality. 

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Media Studies
  • Music
  • Music technology
  • A computing or technological subject

You will also need

Mobile DJs must have a driving licence and it is also useful for other DJs.

If you will be working in a licenced premises where alcohol is served you need to be at least 18 years old.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show industry knowledge and technical expertise such as:

  • Skills for Work Creative & Digital (SCQF level 4 )
  • Creative Industries (SCQF level 5)
  • a National Certificate in Sound Production (SCQF level 6)

Getting experience will help you to develop your skills and start to make contacts in the industry.

Technical training can be useful.

Producing a demo disc or mp3 of your work to send to prospective employers is useful.