How To Become a Radio DJ

A career as a radio DJ can be just the career for you if you’re seeking a dynamic, interesting, and competitive job that gives you the opportunity to engage with people. The nature of the job requires a radio DJ to present music, news, and entertainment to their audience by combining their unique personality with technical expertise and people skills, and there are many Radio DJ jobs available for people with the right skill set. In this article, we have teamed up with experts from job aggregator Jooble, to take a closer look at what a radio disc jockey is and what they do. We will also look at how to become one, discuss the typical compensation for a radio DJ, and list the qualifications needed for this line of work.

What is a radio DJ? 

A radio DJ plays music for their listeners. They work for radio stations that appeal to a certain audience and often present a particular musical style. Radio DJs frequently specialize in a specific genre of music, such as alternative, soft rock, country, rap, R&B, pop, or rock and roll, in line with the type of music that listeners expect on a certain station. In addition to playing music, radio DJs frequently give traffic and weather updates for their area, interview guests live, and comment on newsworthy topics of the day, including politics, pop culture, and sport.

Radio disc jockeys frequently work odd hours at the start of their careers, such as early in the morning or the “graveyard shifts” late at night.

What does a radio DJ do?

Radio personalities present themed radio programs with the intention of entertaining and angaging their listeners. During the breaks between songs, radio DJs:

  • Talk about music
  • Share stories or amusing anecdotes
  • Answer phone calls from listeners
  • Interview guests on air
  • Discuss trending topics
  • Report on the weather and traffic in their local area

The most recent music charts and social media trends are discussed by these broadcasting pros. Furthermore, they are also obliged to occasionally represent their radio station at local events or musical performances.

It is interesting to note that in the past, most DJs selected their own music for their radio broadcasts. While some radio DJs still have the freedom to choose the music they play, particularly those who work at smaller independent or college radio stations, the majority of commercial radio stations provide their DJs with pre-selected music playlists, based on market research.

Qualifications needed to become a DJ on the radio

If you’re serious about becoming a radio disc jockey, the following steps are required to embark on this interesting career:

1. Bachelor’s degree

Many radio DJs have a bachelor’s degree in communications, broadcasting, or journalism, though entry-level educational requirements can vary depending on the company. However, having an undergraduate degree can help you stand out as a potential candidate. Additionally, the courses offered in communications will give you a solid foundation to build on. You will learn about media analysis, software editing tools, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, broadcasting equipment, and more.

2. Internship

Experience can often be just as beneficial as formal education for a radio DJ, which is why doing an internship is so crucial. Internships provide you with the chance to network with people in the business as well as learn about the inner workings of a radio station. Colleges and educational institutions will frequently assist in arranging internships.

4. Promotional reel

Radio stations typically require you to submit a reel along with your resume when you’re applying for a job as a radio disc jockey. Reels give radio stations a chance to assess a candidate’s audience interaction, style, and voice quality. Be sure to put together a reel that highlights your best work.

5. Establish your own unique on-air personality/identity

Before applying for a position at a radio station in the big league, it’s a good idea to start your radio DJ career at a small local station. This will give you the opportunity to perfect your on-air personality, develop your own particular style, hone your skills, and build and establish your reputation. Most of the larger stations look at a radio DJ’s existing ratings (i.e., popularity) when assessing potential candidates.

Required skills

Successful radio disc jockeys need a particular skill set, such as:

1. People skills

Since radio personalities are in the business of engaging with a live audience, having strong people skills is essential for this line of work. DJs need to establish a strong rapport with their listeners in order to make them feel entertained and interested and keep them tuning in for more.

2. Public speaking 

Radio DJs need to be confident and at ease with appearing and speaking in public. The nature of the work often requires radio DJs to appear in front of the public while promoting the station or its advertisers.

3. Research abilities: 

To produce a program that is timely and interesting as a radio DJ, you must be able to research trends and current affairs.

4. Technical know-how: 

Radio disc jockeys use a variety of computers, programs, boards, and digital broadcasting equipment. This technology needs to be learned and mastered.


Salaries vary. Disc jockeys are paid according to their years of experience, popularity, ratings, the prominence of the station, and its geographic location. Top radio DJs command salaries of several million a year. However, the current average salary for a radio DJ in the US is $53,000.


If you are a good speaker, love interacting with people, and have a passion for music, then this may be the perfect career for you. You may have to start on the bottom rung of the ladder, but the potential for carving out an interesting and financially rewarding niche for yourself in the world of broadcasting is limitless. Good luck!

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I have always been a shopaholic. A lot of times my questions went unanswered when it came to retail questions, so I started Talk Radio News. - Caitlyn Johnson

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