8 Step Guide to Becoming a Professional DJ with Duties and Salary Info: Working as a DJ can be highly fulfilling for creative professionals who like to perform and work in a highly social environment. While starting your career as a DJ can be challenging, there are various strategies you can take advantage of to build valuable relationships and gain a foundation of experience. If you’re a prospective DJ, it may be helpful for you to learn more about how you can cultivate success. In this article, we explain what DJs do, how to find work as a DJ and what you can expect from this career regarding salary and job outlook.
What does a DJ do?
Disc jockeys (DJs) are entertainment professionals who make selections from pre-recorded music with the goal of engaging a particular audience. DJs typically work in varying capacities, depending on their particular interests and professional aspirations. DJs may simply broadcast music, ensuring its seamless delivery, or they may use turntables to mix audio from various sources to offer a new listening experience. With this level of variation in mind, here’s an outline of the different types of DJs and what duties they might assume in their particular roles:
Club DJ: These professionals typically work in nightlife and perform for audiences at clubs and bars. They may create mixes using specialized equipment, like turntables or computers, so they can broadcast unique blends of music tailored to the mood of a particular venue.
Performer: These DJs serve a similar role to musicians in that they perform sets unique to their particular approach and preferences. They may use turntables, computers or other tools to create mixes and often build a reputation among listeners of a certain scene.
Radio DJ: These professionals work in the broadcast media industry and serve a multifaceted role at radio stations. They may be responsible for playing sets of music, announcing news, sharing weather reports or reading public service announcements.
Mobile DJ: These DJs perform at events like weddings, conferences and parties, providing entertainment for a particular audience. Mobile DJs may be responsible for setting up equipment, planning a show, working with clients to determine expectations, playing music and making announcements as needed.
How to find work as a DJ
While it can be challenging to jumpstart your career as a DJ, there are a few strategies you can use to find work:
An important part of starting out as a DJ is building relationships with others in the entertainment industry. Try to connect with other DJs, promoters and club owners who might want to support your work or collaborate. From here, you might be able to access more opportunities.
2. Promote club nights
While it can be challenging to find promoters to work with, you may be able to offer your services to clubs in need of entertainment and promote your own weekly set. Try to find a venue that needs a higher volume of customers and offer to run free entry parties during which you can earn a certain percentage of the bar earnings. This can help you gain experience, earn money and build a reputation.
3. Build an online presence
Social media can play a key role in helping you find work as a DJ. Therefore, try to build an online presence across various platforms. From here, you can share your music, promote events and connect with your target audience directly.
4. Record your mixes
You may be able to find more work as a DJ if you record your mixes and use them to pitch your services. Consider working directly with a producer or using home recording equipment to do this. Clients and promoters interested in hiring you can listen to your mixes and determine whether your approach fits their needs.
5. Work part-time as a mobile DJ
While many DJs aspire to work in nightlife or at clubs full-time, you may be able to earn extra income by working part-time as a mobile DJ. Offer your services to clients looking for entertainment for events like weddings, parties and conferences. These jobs are often low-effort and high in compensation.
6. Consider streaming
There are numerous DJs who have taken advantage of the access that virtual spaces provide them. You might consider using a streaming platform and inviting internet users from across the globe to listen to your set. This approach can help you build your reputation and gain a following across a wider audience than possible at in-person events.
7. Work with radio stations
Many radio stations who solicit DJs to work on a paid or volunteer basis. Therefore, you may be able to find part-time employment as a DJ with a local or online station. In such a role, you can gain valuable experience, network with other professionals and gain access to special events.
8. Enter competitions
Various successful DJs have started their careers by entering and winning competitions. These events allow DJs to showcase their skills and generate interest in their services. With this, it may be beneficial for you to consider participating in a competition as you attempt to find work.
How To Write a DJ Resume
A DJ, or disc jockey, entertains guests and audience members at events, clubs and parties. They may also work in radio and broadcasting. To schedule gigs as a DJ, it may be helpful to have a detailed resume that features your skills and experience.
In this article, we share an example of a DJ resume, provide a helpful template and list the steps you can take to create your own resume for this position.
Why write a DJ resume?
It’s helpful to write a DJ resume because most employers look at resumes first before having in-person meetings. Since this is commonly the first impression an employer has of you, you may want your resume to represent you and your skills and experiences well. Having a professional and organized resume can also help you gain attention from potential employers.
How to write a DJ resume
Below are some steps for writing a resume for a DJ:
1. Select a resume format
The first step to writing a DJ resume is selecting a format that can best highlight your experiences and skills. The most compatible format may change depending on the different variables of your DJ career. For example, if you’re newer to the field, you may use a different resume format than a DJ who has many years of experience. Below is a list of potential resume formats options you can use:
Chronological resume: This format, which organizes work experience in chronological order, is typically easy to update and can display continuous employment. It may best complement a candidate who has no employment gaps and several years of experience.
Functional resume: With this format focusing on strengths, achievements and skills, this may be a better format for candidates with less experience or more employment gaps. A functional format displays career information in a way that features your skills more prominently.
Combination resume: A combination resume format combines the chronological format with the functional format. This format displays both work history and skills equitably.
2. Write a professional summary
A professional summary is a few introductory sentences describing your best experiences and achievements from your career. This can help the hiring manager better understand your background and history. It’s common for employers to read or skim resumes quickly, so you may find it beneficial to keep your summary to three sentences or fewer.
3. List your skills
There are typically two types of skills, soft skills and hard skills, and it’s helpful to list both on your resume. Soft skills are skills that can be hard to define or measure and can apply to many jobs. Below is a list of examples of potential soft skills a DJ may want to list on their resume:
Hard skills are skills you can learn and measure. They’re usually specific to a field or industry. Below is a list of examples of hard skills a DJ may want to list on their resume:
Creating sets and playlists
Remixes and mashups
Setup and tear down
4. Provide your work history
This section of your resume can give you the chance to share your work history. Instead of just listing your previous jobs and their tasks, it may be beneficial to feature specific responsibilities and achievements for each job. It can also be helpful to use numbers in your descriptions, as this provides more measurable detail. For example, writing “Created playlists and entertained in 10 different venues which regularly held 100-plus audience members” is more informative than “Performed at many parties and events.”
5. Share your education
Higher education isn’t typically a requirement for performing DJs, although DJs who wish to work in radio and broadcasting might look at career requirements to determine if a degree is necessary. If you have any education you wish to list on your resume, it’s common to add the name of the school, the name of the degree, certificate or workshop and the year or planned date of program completion. This can be the section in which you include any school achievements or related extracurricular experiences.
6. Include additional acknowledgments
This section of your resume is for noteworthy accomplishments that don’t fit in any of the other existing sections. Below is a list of examples of potential options that could apply to this section:
Coverage in the media
Attendance at a notable conference
Salary and job outlook for DJs
The national average salary for a DJ is $50,780 per year. This salary figure may vary as a result of a professional’s level of experience, location, notoriety and particular niche. In addition, DJs may earn higher or lower rates of compensation compared to the average, depending on their ability to secure work and earn income through various channels. For instance, a DJ who works part-time in a club environment and part-time performing shows at weddings, parties and corporate events may earn a higher rate of compensation than their counterparts who only pursue temporary work in the nightlife scene.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment of announcers, an occupational category that includes DJs, may grow by 15% between 2020 and 2030. This growth rate is much faster than the average for all occupations and may result in an addition of approximately 8,100 jobs in this field. The BLS attributes some of this growth to the entertainment industry’s recovery from the 2020 recession. While BLS’ report regarding the job outlook for these professionals mainly refers to radio DJs who work in broadcast media, it may also apply to those who work primarily as performers.