5 July 2012

DJs entertain live audiences by playing music from any combination of CDs, vinyl records and MP3 files.

"Successful DJs need to be passionate and knowledgeable about music and have their own individual style."

What is the job like?

A DJ can make original mixes from two or more tracks of music and other sounds. The music is often sequenced with the DJ talking or rapping on top.

Successful DJs need to be passionate and knowledgeable about music.

A variety of equipment is used, varying in complexity, including turntables, CD players, lap-tops, DJ Controllers, MP3 players, synthesisers, microphones, mixers and headphones.

There are three main types of DJ: mobile, club and radio.

As a mobile DJ you would:

  • Travel to different venues and set up their own equipment including a mixing desk, music players, amplifiers, speakers and light-show
  • Provide entertainment for many different types of events including weddings and birthday parties
  • Entertain the audience between tracks with conversation.

As a club DJ you would:

  • Play a style of music according to the required theme
  • Ensure the club has a great atmosphere by mixing tracks in a way that encourages people to dance

May use drum machines, synthesisers and sound processors to put together an original performance which supplements recorded music.

As a radio DJ you would:

  • Play appropriate music for the audience and also provide conversation which fits precisely within the timings for the broadcast
  • Encourage audience participation – this could be via competitions, phone-ins, emails, text messages and the use of social networking sites
  • Ensure that news, travel and weather, and in commercial radio, advertisements, all happen at the right time, working with the production team.

How do I get into a DJ career?

Successful DJs need to be passionate and knowledgeable about music and have their own individual style. Practical experience gained using the latest technology is more important than qualifications.

Most DJs start out as volunteers – this also helps to develop your confidence as a performer and builds your reputation. Being successful as a DJ is all about making contacts and developing networks.

Here are some ways you could gain and develop skills:

  • Find out if there are any local community organisations offering DJ skills
  • Get involved in hospital or community radio
  • Look on the internet for DJ master classes
  • Listen to as much music as possible and watch different DJs in action

What training and qualifications do I need?

Check out your local college to see if they offer any courses related to DJ skills. Some ask for academic qualifications, whilst others may not. Relevant GCSE subjects include music, IT, media studies, English and maths.

There are lots of courses and qualifications available:

  • NCFE level 2 Award in Music Technology
  • Includes an optional unit Using DJ Skills. Entry is usually with a minimum of two Ds at GCSE or equivalent
  • BTEC Level 2 First Diploma/Certificate in Music
  • Includes a unit in DJ Technology and Performance. Entry is usually with one GCSE (A-C) and3 GCSEs at grade D or above, or equivalent.
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology (DJ Technology)
  • Two year full-time course. Entry is with four GCSE (A-C) passes or equivalent.

There are also lots of private courses available – some of which are very expensive.

What can I earn?

Most DJs are freelance and are self-employed and the pay whilst building a reputation may be low. In fact, most DJs start out on a voluntary basis.

With some experience DJs might earn £200-£300 a session, with top experienced DJs earning £1000 or more. For certain events, such as New Years Eve parties, the rates can double or triple.

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