Step-by-Step Guide: How to Become a Dance Instructor and Inspire Others

Focused dance teacher leading a class, with text 'Become a Dance Instructor: A Step-by-Step Guide' for a blog on 'How to Become a Dance Instructor

Wondering how to become a dance instructor? This straight-to-the-point guide breaks down the key steps—from honing your passion, obtaining formal training, and selecting a dance genre to earning your teaching certification and building a successful career. Whether you aim to join a studio or start your own, we’ve got you covered.

Discovering Your Passion for Dance

Your passion for dance is the starting point in your journey to becoming a dance instructor. This passion is the fuel that drives your dedication and commitment to the art form. Being a dance instructor requires the following:

  • Being outgoing, energetic, and positive
  • Managing time well and being organized
  • Working well with different people
  • Engaging and motivating a diverse group of students during dance sessions
  • Having good communication skills

These traits are essential for a successful dance instructor.

A dance instructor significantly impacts the development of dancers. You play a vital role in shaping the future dancers by teaching dance forms, instilling discipline, fostering expressiveness, and improving physical awareness. However, remember that only around 10% of dancers who actively pursue their careers become professionals and secure employment in the performing arts. This includes private dance studios. Therefore, channeling your passion and consistently refining your skills is vital.

Formal Education and Training

Formal education and training lay a robust groundwork for a thriving teaching profession. It enables you to articulate dance principles proficiently and comprehend the requirements of your students. The prevalent academic qualifications for a dance instructor include a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in dance.

Continuous training, including gaining theoretical knowledge and practical skills such as:

  • Dance history
  • Anatomy
  • Pedagogy
  • Choreography
  • Participating in dance classes, private lessons, and performances

Enhance your teaching abilities as a dance instructor through dance education, just like professional dance teachers do.

Choosing a Dance Style

Once you’ve decided to pursue a career in dance instruction, the next step is to choose a dance style. This can greatly influence your career as a dance teacher, offering avenues to maintain physical activity, impart knowledge, empower students, and enhance proficiency and enthusiasm for specific dance techniques and styles. The array of dance styles is vast, encompassing:

  • Ballet
  • Ballroom
  • Contemporary
  • Hip Hop
  • Jazz
  • Tap Dance
  • Folk Dance
  • Irish Dance
  • and numerous others

The most commonly taught dance styles in educational settings are ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz, tap, ballroom, swing, hip-hop, and folk dance.

Consider your preferences, physical fitness level, age, dancing goals, and peer group choices when selecting a dance style. Explore the type of music and movement you enjoy and your goals. Take trial classes, seek professional guidance, and pay attention to what feels comfortable for your body. Be open to exploring new styles and trust your instincts. Ultimately, the goal is to find a style that allows you to enjoy the process.

Dance Degree Programs

To teach dance in a K-12 setting, it is generally necessary to possess a Bachelor’s Degree and a teaching license. For teaching at the college level, a Master’s Degree and proven expertise in one or more dance styles are typically required. A dance degree program covers various disciplines, such as dance styles, movements, terminology, history, and body anatomy.

Upon earning a degree, pursuing advanced training is the next step. For instance, the collegiate-level courses the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) offers can lead to further qualifications like a bachelor’s degree in dance. This can broaden your horizons and open up opportunities for teaching at a higher level.

Workshops and Masterclasses

For dance instructors, continuous professional development is pivotal to staying updated with the evolving world of dance and teaching techniques. One way to engage in this professional development is through organizations like Dance Masters of America. This esteemed organization provides a comprehensive week-long in-person training course that covers:

  • Ballet
  • Jazz
  • Modern
  • Tap dance styles

This program includes accompanying manuals and DVDs, each priced at $25, with the overall program costing $400.

Such workshops and masterclasses offer opportunities for continuous learning and skill development, keeping you up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques in the dance world. They are a great way to meet fellow dance educators and learn from experienced professionals.

Gaining Real-World Experience

Once your education and training are complete, gaining real-world experience is the next step. This can be achieved through apprenticeships, which offer paid opportunities for experiential learning, provide flexibility in work commitments, facilitate mentorship from experienced professionals, and enable you to select ethical programs for nurturing aspiring dancers. Internships are another valuable experience that typically involves a minimum commitment of two days per week on-site, although they are often unpaid.

Another effective method of gaining teaching experience is securing a part-time job at a dance studio or volunteering at a dance program in a community center. These options can help in building one’s portfolio and teaching skills.

Performing as a dancer also gives you practical experience with the various dance styles and techniques you will teach.

Obtaining Dance Teacher Certification

Attaining certification as a dance teacher is a significant milestone in your career. It serves to:

  • Validate your expertise
  • Showcase your dedication to the profession
  • Provide you with enhanced teaching methodologies
  • Ultimately increase your marketability

The certification process encompasses:

  • Coursework on dance history
  • Research
  • Pedagogy
  • Practical assessments
  • Theoretical exams to showcase proficiency in dance skills and teaching aptitude

Benefits of Dance Teacher Certification

One of the key benefits of obtaining dance teacher certification is professional recognition. It highlights your qualifications and commitment to your profession, signaling to current and prospective employers that you are devoted to enhancing your expertise and learning in the dance industry.

Obtaining a dance teacher certification offers several benefits, including:

  • Access to a network of fellow dance educators
  • Opportunities to establish connections with peers
  • Exchange of knowledge and ideas
  • Engagement in collaborative professional activities within the dance industry

These benefits can be invaluable for your career growth and professional development.

Popular Dance Teacher Certifications

Prominent certified dance instructor certifications include DEA and CiDE, which cater to various styles and teaching methodologies. Selecting an appropriate certification program that aligns with your desired style, teaching methodology, and professional objectives ensures a solid foundation for the dance level you wish to teach.

For instance, an Advanced Teacher Certificate provides comprehensive training encompassing advanced teaching methodologies, specialized dance forms, and intricate choreographic concepts. The certification process is thorough and demanding, designed to ensure educators possess the necessary skills and understanding of various teaching intricacies.

Building a Dance Teaching Career

A successful dance teaching career involves much more than simply teaching dance. It requires networking, professional development, self-marketing, and exploring various employment opportunities.

Organizations like the OfferingTree provide a comprehensive software solution for dance instructors, encompassing scheduling, payroll, and marketing tools. This integrated platform enables instructors to efficiently manage their business operations and establish connections with students and fellow professionals.

Networking and Professional Development

In addition to leveraging platforms like OfferingTree, you can join professional dance organizations such as the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), The Freelance in Dance Road Map, and Dance Informa for networking purposes. These organizations provide opportunities to meet fellow dance educators, learn from experienced professionals, and stay updated on the latest trends in the dance industry.

Participation in dance events can also contribute to your professional development. These events can:

  • Foster creativity
  • Refine dance skills
  • Boost self-confidence
  • Promote teamwork
  • Facilitate socialization
  • Instill discipline

They are a great way to connect with the dance community and showcase your skills.

Marketing Yourself as a Dance Instructor

Another key aspect of building your career is marketing yourself as a dance instructor. Establishing a robust online presence enables you to expand your reach, demonstrate your proficiency, and efficiently promote your private instruction services to prospective clients. You can demonstrate your skills and expertise online by networking with dance industry professionals, creating a dance reel, and maintaining an online portfolio highlighting your experience and abilities as a dancer.

Effective marketing channels for dance instructors include:

  • Hosting open houses
  • Email marketing
  • Utilizing social media platforms
  • Referral marketing
  • Engaging the audience with video content
  • Creating a marketing plan

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are particularly effective for marketing your services and engaging with your audience.

Employment Opportunities

As a dance instructor, you have several employment opportunities to consider. You can find employment in private studios, schools, fitness centers, and through freelance teaching. The prevalent job positions for dance instructors in private studios include choreographers, school teachers, and instructors at dance studios.

If you’re interested in teaching at a fitness center, common qualifications include a college degree in the performing arts or a Bachelor’s Degree, along with a teaching license for K-12 dance instruction. Those interested in instructing dance movement therapy may need a graduate degree that meets professional standards.

On the other hand, freelance dance instructors are engaged in particular assignments according to their expertise and services. They may teach:

  • Private lessons
  • Workshops
  • Masterclasses
  • Choreograph for performances

On the other hand, those in dance schools or studios generally conduct regular classes and may emphasize training students for a dance career.

Starting Your Own Dance Studio

Starting your dance studio is another thrilling opportunity for a dance instructor. It allows you to combine your love for dance with entrepreneurship, enabling you to establish a dynamic environment for educating and motivating others. Here are some preliminary steps to start your dance studio:

  1. Formulate your vision
  2. Locate a suitable site
  3. Secure funding
  4. Develop a business plan
  5. Comply with legal obligations
  6. Design the studio area
  7. Recruit personnel
  8. Outline your curriculum and course options
  9. Implement successful marketing tactics

There are also several legal steps to consider when establishing a dance studio, such as:

  • Acquiring a general business license
  • Obtaining a DBA license
  • Obtaining a business tax identification number
  • Obtaining a sales tax license
  • Depending on the location, obtaining specific state and local business permits
  • Obtaining music licensing for classes
  • Obtaining a certificate of occupancy for the studio space

Online marketing is instrumental in a dance studio business’s success, as it enhances the studio’s visibility, attracts new students, and establishes a brand identity in the digital space.


In conclusion, becoming a dance instructor is a journey filled with passion, dedication, and continuous learning. Each step is a significant milestone in your journey, from discovering your passion for dance and gaining formal education and real-world experience to obtaining certification and building your career. Whether you work in a private studio or start your own, the opportunities to inspire others through dance are endless. So take that first step on the dance floor, and let your passion guide you toward a fulfilling and rewarding career as a dance instructor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you become a dance mentor?

Earning a dance or performing arts degree and gaining professional experience are essential to becoming a dance mentor. Additionally, obtaining a graduate degree in dance education can open up prestigious job opportunities, such as teaching at a university or coaching professional dancers.

What is the difference between a dance teacher and a choreographer?

The main difference between a dance teacher and a choreographer is that dance teachers focus on teaching techniques and bringing out the best in students. In contrast, choreographers specifically concentrate on the creative process of choreographing dances. So, while both may include choreography, the emphasis and skill set required are distinct.

How long does it take to become a ballroom dance instructor?

Becoming a ballroom dance instructor takes two to four years, including acquiring a teaching qualification and sufficient experience.

How can I gain real-world experience as a dance instructor?

You can gain real-world experience as a dance instructor by participating in apprenticeships, securing a part-time job at a dance studio, or volunteering at a dance program in a community center. These opportunities provide valuable teaching experience.

How much does it cost to get a dance teaching certification?

Getting a dance teaching certification typically falls in the range of $5,500 to $6,200.

Meet The Author:

Parker Franklin

Parker, IFG’s Brand Manager since 2022, began his wellness journey in 2020, leading to a significant personal transformation. He holds a journalism degree from Murray State University and started his career as an award-winning journalist in western Kentucky before transitioning into marketing and PR.

At IFG, Parker is responsible for writing content, managing The Fit newsletter, and overseeing promotions and collaborations with affiliate fitness organizations.

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