Dance Teacher Job Description, Education, Training Requirements, Career, Salary, Employment

Job Description: Dance teachers work in private schools with dance departments or in public school systems in states that offer dance teacher positions and dance teacher certification. They teach various forms of dance to students of all ages, choreograph dance pieces for performance, direct rehearsals, and organize performances for the community.

Dance teachers can also become dance studio owners or they can own/manage privately run schools of dance. They are responsible for hiring staff and faculty, maintaining studio space and producing recitals. Studio owners are typically dancers themselves, as well as trained dance instructors.

Training and Educational Qualifications:

Requirements for regular licenses to teach kindergarten through grade 12 vary by state. Most states with dance teacher certification require dance teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in dance and to have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching. A number of states require that teachers obtain a master’s degree in education within a specified period after they begin teaching. The National Dance Education Organization maintains a list of states that offer dance teacher certification in public schools. The list also shows where jobs in public school systems can be found. There is no specific education requirement for dance studio owners.

Job Outlook: Through 2016, overall student enrollment in elementary, middle, and secondary schools a key factor in the demand for teachers is expected to rise more slowly than in the past as children of the baby boom generation leave the school system. However, employment should continue to grow as fast as the average for teachers from kindergarten through the secondary grades. Projected enrollments will vary by region.

Salary: Median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers range from $43,580 to $48,690; the lowest 10 percent earn $28,590 to $33,070; the top 10 percent earn $67,490 to $76,100.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $31,753 in the 2004-05 school year. The estimated average salary of all public elementary and secondary school teachers in the 2004-05 school year was $47,602. Private school teachers generally earn less than public school teachers, but they may be given other benefits such as free or subsidized housing.

Significant Facts:

•    In addition to conducting classroom activities, teachers oversee study halls and homerooms, supervise extracurricular activities and accompany students on field trips.

•    Public school teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in dance, complete an approved teacher education program and be licensed.

•    Dance teachers may open their own private dance studios; dance studio owners have no educational requirement.

Did you have an internship in this field prior to starting your job?

In public education, no. As a professional dancer, yes, with the Hark-ness Ballet of New York.

Do you know which companies have the best internships in this field that are known to help launch a successful career?

It depends on what you want to do (dancer vs. teacher/choreographer). If you want to dance professionally, nearly all companies have an apprentice program/company

Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?

One would think major cities, but that is not always the case. Frequently, the smaller cities and towns outshine the major metropolitan areas when it comes to dance and arts education.

What is your typical day like?

I get to school at 6:00 a.m. and do all my paperwork for the day; classes start at 8:15 a.m. I teach three 96-minute classes and have a 96-

minute planning period. Class time also includes choreography. Additionally, there are after-school rehearsals and performances.

What are your job responsibilities?

I teach ballet, jazz, tap, choreography, design, computer design, and commercial art.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Creative work and choreography.

What do you dislike about your job?

The unending bureaucratic difficulties that go along with public education. A litigation mad society preys upon paranoid school systems.

Have you had any turning-point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?

My first principal asked me to write an essay that explained how a full-length ballet touched upon other areas of society, from the historical and anthropological aspects, to the theological and artistic. It was a life-changing moment and opened the door for all the awards that followed (Disney American Teacher Award honoree, Toyota International Teacher, and USA Today Team Teacher, to name a few).

How did you know you wanted to pursue this career?

I didn’t. I was in a place where my back was against the wall and, quite literally, God stepped in and said that this was where I would go.

How did you get into this industry?

I’ve danced since I was six. Unlike most people who don’t have a clue what they want to do, I knew at six that I was a dancer, and it is to that end that I’ve lived my life. A dancer is not just someone who performs but someone who teaches and creates as well. Real dancers are tour guides they are capable of taking anyone anywhere because dance is the universal language!

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

My original choreographic, across the curriculum interdisciplinary works based on the lives of the Impressionists, including Toulouse Lautrec, Monet, and Degas.

If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?

Ski bum! I’d make a great tour guide for a slope in Summit County, Colorado – or even at Disney World.

To what professional associations do you belong?

Alabama Education Association; Alabama Dance Council; Alabama State Council on the Arts; International Dance Council, United Nations, International Network of Performing and Visual Arts Schools; Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education; National Education Association; National Dance Educators Association; Magnet Schools of America; and Phi Delta Kappa: The Professional Association in Education.

What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?

If you are not an artist, then you are not a teacher! You must work creatively otherwise you’re nothing more than a mechanic.

CAREER LADDER:

Dance teacher assistant, dance supply store clerk, dance teacher, day care teacher, after-school dance program director, founder of dance studio/dance teacher

Did you have an internship in this field prior to starting your job?

At the time that I was going to school, they didn’t call it an internship. I did, however, teach dance at a studio as an “intern.”

Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?

There are dance studios everywhere!

What is your typical day like?

My day starts with the administrative work that is a part of the business: make necessary phone calls; type up newsletters and attendance sheets; type choreography and class notes; do the business accounting; cut music; work on costumes; work on fundraising. Later in the day, I head to the studio, teach classes and then clean the studio from top to bottom.

What are your job responsibilities?

Everything: I am the owner, the director, a teacher, a choreographer, an accountant, the cleaning crew, office worker, seamstress, and the list goes on.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Teaching and choreographing.

What do you dislike about your job?

The grunt work like office paperwork and cleaning.

Have you had any turning-point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?

Yes, prior to college, I thought I wanted to be a professional dancer. But during college, I realized that I wanted to be a dance teacher at the local level. I wanted to be the first teacher to see the passion for dance develop in a student.

How did you know you wanted to pursue this career?

I have always known I would do something with dance.

How did you get into this industry?

The story begins with my mother taking me to see the Nutcracker when I was two years old and my saying, “I want to dance, Mommy!” I have been dancing since then. About two years ago, an opportunity presented itself and my father helped me open my dance studio.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

I hope it is still yet to come, but I have had quite a few students graduate from high school and pursue dance in college as I did. Some of them have gone on to have professional careers in ballet companies and performing in Las Vegas shows.

If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?

If I weren’t doing anything with dance at all, I would be working with youth in some capacity most likely as a teacher.

To what professional associations do you belong and what professional publications do you read?

I belong to the Professional Dance Teachers Association (PDTA) and the International Tap Association (ITA). I read Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Spirit magazine, and Pointe magazine.

What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?

You have to really love it! There is not a lot of money in this profession.