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What does a DJ do?

Learn all about DJ duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a DJ.

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A DJ is a person who plays recorded music for an audience.

DJ job duties include:

  • Playing music at nightclubs, bars, weddings, private parties, and other events
  • Consulting with clients to determine what kind of music they want played
  • Making sure that all music is appropriate for the event and the audience
  • Mixing songs together to create a smooth transition between them
  • Reading the crowd to see what type of music they are responding to and making song choices accordingly
  • Using sound mixing equipment to control the volume and sound quality of the music
  • Taking requests from guests and incorporating them into the set list
  • Announcing songs and other information over the microphone
  • Keeping track of time to make sure the event runs smoothly
  • Pack up and transport DJ equipment to and from events

DJ Job Requirements

There are no formal education requirements for DJs, although many have completed some form of postsecondary education. Certification is not required, but many DJs choose to obtain certification from professional organizations such as the National Association of Mobile Entertainers or the American Disc Jockey Association. Experience is the most important requirement for DJs, and most DJs start working in smaller clubs or venues before moving on to larger ones.

DJ Skills

  • Passion for music
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Good taste in music
  • Able to read a crowd
  • Quick reflexes
  • Technical skills
  • Physical stamina
  • Charisma
  • Confidence
  • Showmanship

Related: Top DJ Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a DJ

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to becoming a DJ, as the best way to become a DJ depends on your individual goals and interests. However, there are some basic steps you can take to start your DJ journey.

First, it is important to understand the difference between a DJ and a music producer. A DJ typically plays pre-recorded music for an audience, while a music producer creates original music. If your goal is to become a DJ, you will need to focus on selecting and mixing tracks for your sets.

If you don't have any experience with mixing music, you may want to start by practicing at home with some basic equipment. You'll need two turntables or digital media players, a mixer, headphones, and some vinyl records or CDs. Once you have all of your equipment set up, you can start practicing mixing tracks together. As you become more comfortable with mixing, you can start experimenting with different techniques, such as beatmatching and scratching.

When you feel ready to start playing out for audiences, there are a few things you'll need to do in order to be successful. First, you'll need to build up a strong repertoire of tracks that you know how to mix well. You should also spend time studying the crowd at different venues so that you can learn what types of music they respond well to. In addition, it is important to have a strong stage presence and be able to engage with the crowd while you're playing.

If you follow these steps and work hard at perfecting your craft, you can become a successful DJ.

Related: DJ Resume Example

Related: DJ Interview Questions (With Example Answers)