Broadcast DJ: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for broadcast DJs. Get the facts about job duties, average salary, educational requirements, preferred job skills and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Journalism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Broadcast DJ?

Broadcast DJs typically work in radio stations and use their communication skills to present music, commentary and interviews to the listening audience. They serve as the voices of their respective radio stations. They entertain listeners by playing music and educate them by presenting news about current events and the latest trends. Prior to any on-air performance, broadcast DJs typically do research, write scripts and prepare a list of songs to be played.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degrees are typical
Education Field of Study Communications, broadcasting or journalism are preferred
Key Skills Interpersonal skills, speaking and interviewing
Job Growth (2014-2024) -14%* (for all radio and television announcers)
Average Salary (2015) $46,410* (for all radio and television announcers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Duties Be as a Broadcast DJ?

As a disc jockey, also referred to as a DJ, you'll work as an on-air host at a radio station. In addition to playing music, you might discuss current issues, the news, traffic, sports and weather. Other responsibilities include interviewing guests and sharing community happenings. Most radio shows last approximately four hours, but your remaining time is spent preparing for the show, writing scripts and recording commercials.

DJs may also make personal appearances. Your responsibilities may vary depending upon the size of the station. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), if you work at a small radio station, you might have to operate controls during the show, sell advertising time and complete other tasks, such as developing and tracking programming (www.bls.gov).

What Type of Preparation Do I Need?

In the current competitive environment, you might consider earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in broadcasting, journalism or communications. Such programs can provide you with the opportunity to train on industry-specific equipment and hone your communication skills. You'll learn announcing, programming and marketing. Classes might cover both electronic media and studio systems. You can train your speaking voice, and develop proper grammar and news writing skills.

Will I Be Able to Find a Job?

In order to find a position as a DJ, you'll generally have to start at a small radio station as an intern. Working as a student at an on-campus radio station can help your prospects. Disc jockey positions are competitive, particularly in larger cities. Keep in mind that, according to the BLS, employment was expected to decline 14% from 2014-2024.

What Could I Expect to Earn?

As a beginning DJ, you can expect relatively low pay. The lower tenth percentile of all radio and television announcers earned $18,000 per year, while the 90th percentile earned $86,780, according to the 2015 BLS data. The three top-paying states for announcers were Maryland, New York, and Oregon in 2015, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

One alternative career to consider is to become a producer or director who has a significant role in how an entire production is done. Producers and directors create and manage productions of movies, television programs, theatrical presentations and commercials. Another career option is to become a correspondent, reporter or broadcast news analyst. Correspondents and reporters inform the public of the latest news and trends at a local, national or international level. Broadcast analysts further educate the public by interpreting news stories that have social, economic or political relevance. These career alternatives require a bachelor's degree and good oral and written communication skills.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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