If you have extensive training as a ballroom dancer, you could consider pursuing a professional performance or teaching career. No other formal education is required, but professional dance-teacher certification may be helpful. Ballroom dancers often work sporadic or flexible schedules, which makes it a challenge to determine yearly earnings.
Ballroom dancers perform steps, such as the quickstep, waltz, and samba. To do so professionally typically requires extensive training, practice, and rehearsal, yet many find that the work is not steady. Ballroom dancers may find that certification helps them find employment.
|Required Education||Formal dance training|
|Other Requirements||Optional teaching certification|
|Projected Job Growth*||5% between 2014 and 2024 (all dancers)|
|Median Wage (2015)*||$14.44 an hour (all dancers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Outlook for Ballroom Dancers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for all dancers were expected to increase 5% between 2014 and 2024. Those interested in entering this highly-competitive field were expected to outpace the number of available positions, resulting in slow job growth. Usually, dancers need to have undergone extensive training to develop their techniques and talents in order to find frequent or long-term job opportunities.
Ballroom dancers might travel with opera, theater, or dance companies. These professionals could also work for amusement parks and cruise ships or perform for television and music video productions. However, the BLS stated that careers are often over by the time dancers reach the age of 40 due to the long work hours and frequency with which dancers become injured. Some mature dancers choose to become choreographers, instructors, or artistic directors, and others might take on more administrative roles within a company.
Ballroom dancers can also work as instructors in elementary, high school, and post-secondary schools. They might teach at fitness centers, dance studios, or recreational facilities as well. Additionally, some dancers choose to provide group lessons or workshops for local chapters of dance organizations, such as USA Dance.
In addition to teaching and performance work, ballroom dancers have several opportunities to participate in national and international competitions. Sponsors, such as the American Ballroom Company and the World Federation of Ballroom Dancers, host professional contests for dancers to exhibit their talents in many styles of ballroom dancing. The National Dance Council of America offers dancers a schedule of events and competitions for amateur and professional dancers (www.ndca.org).
Professional certification is voluntary but can showcase a ballroom dancer's expertise and might improve employment options. Most certifications are developed for dance instructors. Several organizations, such as ProDVIDA, the National Dance Teachers Association of America, and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, offer multiple credentialing levels depending on a dancer's skill, dance style, and experience. To obtain certification, most organizations require dancers to pass an exam that demonstrates their dancing and teaching abilities.
The BLS does not report annual wage data for ballroom dancers, due to a number of factors. Dancers often have job commitments that last only a few months. Their work schedules and employment hours also vary greatly, making annual wage calculations difficult. However, the median hourly wage for all dancers was reported as $14.44 in 2015. The hourly range for the majority of dancers was $8.56-$33.03 at that time.
To recap, professional ballroom dancers are talented, highly trained individuals who can work for theatres, performance houses, or teaching institutions. Some people prefer to perform early in their career, and move into teaching positions as they get older. Finely honed dance skills are the only overarching requirement to enter this career field.