Getting paid to play music and chat over the airwaves may seem like a dream job, and to those who love piloting the airwaves, it is.
The radio DJ salary in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom places air personalities at the middle-class level or lower.
Here we look at the salary of a radio DJ, the number of jobs available in radio, and what some radio DJs do to increase their income.
How Much Do Radio DJs Make?
Suppose you’re thinking about trying your hand at being an on-air personality at a radio station in the U.S., the United Kingdom, or Canada. In that case, you may be searching the internet for “radio DJ salary.” Don’t bother, as we’ve done the research for you. Here’s more information about how much a radio DJ earns each year.
Radio DJ Salary in the U.S.
In America, the average radio DJ will earn $39,487 a year, or $18.98 per hour. The annual salary range is $26,215 to more than $56,156. At the high range, radio DJs make $26.99 an hour. Most DJs in the U.S. earn between $32,540 and $48,212. The median U.S. salary of $31,133 is in this range.
The salary a radio DJ can earn in America depends on several factors, including the size of the radio station’s market and the education, certifications, skills, and experience of the DJ.
Some DJs serve as program managers or station managers in addition to their on-air roles, which can increase their salaries.
United Kingdom Radio DJ Salary
How much a radio DJ earns in the United Kingdom tends to depend on how large the radio station’s market is. In London, a radio DJ can earn £26.45 per hour, or about £55,000 a year, but in Nottingham, that hourly rate is £13.21, or £27,476 annually. The hourly rate in Preston is even lower at £12, or £24,960.
In the United Kingdom, the median income for a household is £29,400.
As in the U.S., the pay rate for a radio DJ will also depend on the skills, training, and experience of the individual disc jockey. Some radio DJs specialize in topics such as news or sports and work for the best radio stations in the United Kingdom.
Radio DJ Salary in Canada
A Canadian DJ can earn as much as $76,000 a year in Canadian dollars, or $36.50 an hour, but the average annual salary is $45,473, 04 $21.86 an hour. The median household income in Canada is $87,930.
An entry-level DJ in Canada with one to three years of experience will earn less, down to about $31,000 a year on average.
In Canada, the career track for a radio host or DJ can lead to becoming a radio producer or manager.
What’s it Like to be a Radio DJ?
What may sound like casual banter between songs takes quite a bit of preparation and training. Radio DJs just make it look easy.
Disc jockeys – called that when they played vinyl albums on the air – have a great deal of technical skill and work with sophisticated broadcasting equipment.
Before they go on the air, DJs prepare for their shows by checking to see what topics are trending on news, entertainment, and social media. They may need to prepare announcements about news, upcoming events, and weather.
Radio DJs work with the broadcasting team, including producers and board operators, who screen calls if callers are included in the radio broadcast and play music.
Also known as radio hosts, radio announcers, or on-air personalities, radio DJs used to be influential music curators, but today those playlists are determined more by data on listeners. Listeners’ tastes and what’s trending with them now influence what songs play on the radio.
DJs today focus more on conversation and interviews on current events, talking with listeners, and entertaining them. They might even have a webcam so listeners can see them, blogs so they can interact with the public, and social media pages. Some DJs make public appearances at community events to promote their radio station or show.
What Hours Do Radio DJs Work?
Radio DJs don’t work 9-to-5 hours. They may be broadcasting in the early morning hours, late at night, or over weekends.
Generally, drive time – when listeners are driving to and from work – is often when the most experienced radio DJs work since many people tune into radio shows in their cars then. Those hours are either well before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
How to Become a Radio DJ
While few radio DJs earn six figures or more, radio hosting still draws plenty of interest among those who are interested in careers in communications. Here are a few steps toward becoming a radio DJ.
Go to College
Not every radio station requires its on-air personalities to have bachelor’s degrees, but many radio DJs have degrees in communications, broadcasting, or journalism. Many colleges have campus radio stations, which can be a training ground for future radio DJs. Classes including broadcast writing, news writing, speech, and more can give students a foundation for a radio career.
Be an Intern
Another way to learn more radio broadcasting skills is to complete an internship at a radio station. Interns learn how radio stations operate and meet broadcasting professionals. It’s not uncommon for a broadcasting internship to lead to a job offer later.
College radio stations can give aspiring radio DJs valuable experience, and so can local radio stations. If full-time employment isn’t available, check into part-time entry-level work. Radio station experience can help aspiring radio DJs learn about programming, station operations, how to engage listeners, and more.
Develop Your Style
Part of being an on-air personality is having a personality. Having your own style will help set you apart from other radio personalities. DJs can hone their skills in interviewing and engaging listeners and callers. The best radio DJs make their listeners feel like they know them.
Must-have Skills for Radio DJs
The most successful radio DJs enjoy their work and have skill sets that make them well-suited for being on-air personalities. Here are a few essential skills radio DJs should have:
Speaking clearly is a must for radio DJs, so those who don’t like to speak on the air or in public may not be a fit for the radio DJ job.
Radio DJs must be able to work well with producers and program managers and relate to listeners. Communication is critical for this job, and a radio DJ must be likable, relatable, and personable on the air and in public appearances.
Radio DJ must research trends to know what’s popular with their listeners. They often research news and weather for announcements. When accidents or emergencies happen, this research and writing must be done quickly and accurately to provide listeners with the information they need.
Today’s DJs aren’t spinning records. They use a variety of advanced broadcasting equipment, including boards, computers, and software. They must know how to use this technology in their broadcasts and maintain this equipment, so radio broadcasts aren’t interrupted.
Radio DJ Salary
Radio DJs can be on the job early in the morning, late at night, and all hours in between. When they’re not on the air, radio DJs are researching and planning their upcoming broadcasts. Their salaries are in the mid-range of those in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.
To earn this salary, radio DJs must have the training, skills in research, communication, and speaking, and experience in broadcasting. They work long hours, often early in the morning or late at night.
Radio DJs have the perks of enjoying their work, working in a field where they excel, serving their communities, and public recognition, in addition to having middle-class salaries that allow them to live comfortably.