Ballroom Dancer: Career and Salary Outlook

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

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Essential Information

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 certification
Projected Job Growth* 6% between 2012 and 2022 (all dancers)
Median Wage (2013)* $14.87 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 6% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). The number of applicants was expected to outpace the number of available positions, resulting in this rate job growth, on the slow end of the average range. This field is also extremely competitive. Usually, dancers need to have undergone extensive training to develop their techniques and talents in order to find frequent or long-term job opportunities.

Job Description

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 postsecondary 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).

Certification

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.

Salary Information

The BLS does not report annual wage data for ballroom dancers, due to a number of factors. Dancers rarely have job commitments that last longer than 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 $14.87 in 2013. The hourly range for the majority of dancers was $8.47-$34.22 at that time.

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