How to Become a Dance Teacher: Step-By-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a dance instructor. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in dance education.

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Do I Want to Be a Dance Teacher?

Dance teachers may teach in public schools, private schools, after-school programs or private dance studios. They teach their students the basics of movement and the foundations of various styles of dance, such as tap, ballet, modern and jazz. Teachers should be in good physical condition, since the work requires a great deal of activity. Working with children is often challenging and stressful because some students lack motivation and respect for others. Teaching can also be a very rewarding career, when instructors can observe their students' great strides and accomplishments.

Job Requirements

Public school dance teachers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in education. Dance teachers who possess teaching certificates in dance are qualified to teach dance education to K-12 public school students. The following table contains essential requirements for dance teachers:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree*
Degree Field Education, dance education, fine arts***
Licensure/Certification Certification in dance is required for employment in K-12 public schools**
Experience Years of formal dance training*
Key Skills Creativity, teamwork, leadership*
Computer Skills Imaging software, data entry software, spreadsheet software****
Technical Skills Physical stamina and balance*; instructional skills****

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **University of Georgia Department of Dance, ***Shenandoah University, ****O*NET Online

Step 1: Become a Trained Dancer

Many dancers begin training at a young age (typically 5-8 years old for ballet dancers) and continue to gain skills throughout their careers. Leading dance companies may offer regular full-time training programs. Many dancers also study drama and literature to learn how to portray characters through dance.

Step 2: Complete a Teacher Education Program

Aspiring dance teachers must complete a teacher education program before they can teach in public schools. Bachelor's degree programs in dance education are also beneficial for students who plan to teach dance in a private studio or students who would like to pursue graduate-level studies in dance or dance education. Degree programs in dance education aim to develop technical, performance and choreographic skills.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship or student teaching experience. Most teacher education programs require the completion of a field experience, such as directed teaching. Through these programs, students demonstrate teaching techniques and the ability to create learning experiences for elementary and secondary dance classrooms.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Earning a teacher certification requires courses in education, dance education and the completion of a teaching internship. Other dance certification programs are linked with master's programs in dance. Students must also earn satisfactory scores on the PRAXIS exams. PRAXIS exams are state-administered exams that measure teachers' basic skills and content knowledge skills. Passing scores vary by state.

Success Tips:

  • Prepare for the exams. Increase the chances of passing the exams by participating in online tutorials and interactive practice tests.

Step 4: Consider Obtaining a Master's Degree

Many schools offer master's programs in dance that culminate in K-12 dance teacher certification upon graduation. With a master's degree, dance teachers can teach at community colleges in addition to educating students in K-12 public schools. Graduate-level dance programs have artistic, performance, research and teacher training components. Students who earn a master's degree in dance are eligible for a doctorate program that can lead to more lucrative dance teacher jobs in postsecondary schools.

Success Tips:

  • Seek professional development opportunities. In order to maintain licensure, teachers are required to participate in ongoing professional development workshops or courses.
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