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Salary and Career Info for Dance Instructors

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a dance instructor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

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Dancing with the Stars not withstanding, there should be plenty of employment possibilities for dance instructors in the coming years. Though formal education is not always required, there are degree programs that can prepare you to become a dance instructor. Dance experience and training are the prime requirements for employment.

Essential Information

Dancer instructors teach the nuances and forms of dance to their students. Instructors must be physically fit, passionate, organized and communicate well with students. Obtaining employment in this field often relies on experience and talent, though there are no specific education requirements.

Required Education Dance training and experience
Projected Job Growth* 15% between 2014 and 2024 (self-enrichment education teachers)
Median Salary (2015)* $36,680 (self-enrichment education teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary and Outlook Info for Dance Instructors

The income for dance instructors depends on a multitude of factors, from where they work (in terms of both geographical location and employment site, such as a school or studio) to the style of dance they teach. Regarding dancers and choreographers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that competition in this field is intense and that there are far more qualified professionals than there are positions available at any given time. It is likely that this information relates to dance instructors as well, whose duties and experience may overlap with those two roles.

As of May 2015, the BLS reported that self-enrichment teachers, including dance teachers, earned a median annual salary of $36,680. According to PayScale.com, the annual salary for dance instructors with less than one year of experience in 2016 was as much as $49,579. In 2015, the BLS predicted that jobs for self-enrichment teachers in general would expand by 15% through 2024.

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Career Info for Dance Instructors

There is not a specific path for one to follow to become a dance instructor. Career forums and education programs note that most teachers are themselves current or former dancers. However, regardless of the particular style that dancers may have mastered, instructors must have a thorough understanding of dance. Prospective dance teachers can improve their employability by broadening their knowledge of dance styles. Instructors may teach any number of dancing styles, including ballroom, ballet, breakdance, tap, tango, salsa, lambada, merengue, jazz, contemporary and traditional dance. They should be able to teach dancers to perform solos, partner or work with groups on stage.

One way that a dancer can expand his or her knowledge of dance types is to pursue formal education for aspiring dance instructors. Undergraduate degree programs are available to prepare qualified individuals to become dance teachers in general or for a particular student base, such as K-12. Classes not only enhance a person's understanding of dance history and types, but also cover pedagogy, class structure and instruction methods. Students learn to analyze movement, choreograph, demonstrate technique and promote good health. Programs commonly result in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).

Instructors may teach in gyms, studios, community centers, colleges and universities. They often teach at night or on weekends. Those who work in public school settings may need to attend a postsecondary program and become licensed as teachers according to the regulations set forth in their state.

Experienced dance instructors may start their own dance companies or schools. Many ultimately also work as choreographers on a part-time basis for independent shows or full-time for dance companies.

Although there are undergraduate degree programs available that can help prepare you to become a dance instructor, there is probably no better preparation than actual dance experience and training. While you may be interested in starting your own dance school or company, many dance instructors sign on to work in established schools or as choreographers for theater companies. Job opportunities are expected to grow much faster than the national average for all occupations.

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