Jobs, Salaries and Career after Masters in Dance - Updated 2020

2018 median Pay for Dance

The median hourly wage for choreographers was $22.98 in May 2018. The median hourly wage for dancers was $16.31 in May 2018.


Pay

In fact, dancers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Many dancers stop performing by the time they reach their late thirties because of the physical demands of their work. Nonperforming dancers may continue to work as choreographers, directors, or dance teachers. Work Schedules Schedules for dancers and choreographers vary with where they work. During tours, dancers and choreographers have long workdays, rehearsing most of the day and performing at night. Choreographers who work in dance schools may have a standard workweek when they are instructing students. They also spend hours working independently to create new dance routines.



Best paying jobs for Visual and Performing Arts


Number of Jobs for Dance

Number of Jobs in 2018 was 20,400


Job Outlook for Dance

Overall employment of dancers and choreographers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. A continued interest in dance and in pop culture may provide opportunities in dance schools and in venues outside of dance companies. However, dancers and choreographers face intense competition, and the number of applicants is expected to vastly exceed the number of job openings.


Job description of Dance

Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Duties

Dancers typically do the following:

  • Audition for a part in a show or for a job within a dance company
  • Learn complex dance movements that entertain an audience
  • Rehearse several hours each day to prepare for their performance
  • Study new and emerging types of dance
  • Work closely with instructors, choreographers, or other dancers to interpret or modify their routines
  • Attend promotional events, such as photography sessions, for the production in which they are appearing

Dancers spend years learning dances and perfecting their skills. They usually perform as part of a group and know a variety of dance styles, including ballet, tap, and modern dance. In addition to traditional performances in front of a live audience, many perform on TV, in videos on the Internet, and in music videos, in which they also may sing or act. Many dancers perform in shows at casinos, in theme parks, and on cruise ships.

Choreographers typically do the following:

  • Put together moves in a sequence to create new dances or interpretations of existing dances
  • Choose the music that will accompany a dance routine
  • Audition dancers for a role in a show or within a dance company
  • Assist with costume design, lighting, and other artistic aspects of a show
  • Teach complex dance movements
  • Study new and emerging types of dance to design more creative dance routines
  • Help with the administrative duties of a dance company, such as budgeting

Choreographers create original dances and develop new interpretations of existing dances. They work in dance schools, theaters, dance companies, and movie studios. During rehearsals, they typically demonstrate dance moves, to instruct dancers in the proper technique. Many choreographers also perform the dance routines they create. Some choreographers work with performers who are not trained dancers. For example, the complex martial arts scenes performed by actors in movies are arranged by choreographers who specialize in martial arts.

Some dancers and choreographers hold other jobs between roles to make a living.


How to become Dance

Education and training requirements vary with the type of dancer; however, all dancers need many years of formal training. Nearly all choreographers began their careers as dancers.

Education and Training

Many dancers begin training when they are young and continue to learn throughout their careers. Ballet dancers begin training the earliest, usually between the ages of 5 and 8 for girls and a few years later for boys. Their training becomes more serious as they enter their teens, and most ballet dancers begin their professional careers by the time they are 18.

Leading professional dance companies sometimes have intensive summer training programs from which they might select candidates for admission to their regular full-time training programs.

Modern dancers normally begin formal training while they are in high school. They attend afterschool dance programs and summer training programs to prepare for their career or for a college dance program.

Some dancers and choreographers pursue postsecondary education. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in dance, typically through departments of theater or fine arts. As of March 2016, there were about 75 dance programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance. Most programs include coursework in a variety of dance styles, including modern dance, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. Most entrants into college dance programs have previous formal training.

Some choreographers work as dance teachers. Teaching dance in a college, high school, or elementary school requires a college degree. Some dance studios and conservatories prefer instructors who have a degree; however, they may accept previous work in lieu of a degree.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Nearly all choreographers begin their careers as dancers. While working as dancers, they study different types of dance and learn how to choreograph routines.

Advancement

Some dancers take on more responsibility if they are promoted to dance captain in musical theater companies. They lead rehearsals or work with less experienced dancers when the choreographer is not present.

Some dancers become choreographers. Dancers and choreographers also may become theater, film, or television producers and directors.

Important Qualities

Athleticism. Successful dancers must have excellent balance, physical strength, and physical dexterity so that they can move their bodies without falling or losing their sense of rhythm.

Creativity. Dancers need artistic ability and creativity to express ideas through movement. Choreographers also must have artistic ability and innovative ideas, to create new and interesting dance routines.

Leadership skills. Choreographers must be able to direct a group of dancers to perform the routines that they have created.

Persistence. Dancers must commit to years of intense practice. They need to be able to accept rejection after auditions and to continue to practice for future performances. Choreographers must keep studying and creating new routines.

Physical stamina. Dancers are often physically active for long periods, so they must be able to rehearse for many hours without getting tired.

Teamwork. Most dance routines involve a group or pairs, so dancers must be able to work together to be successful.


What people in similar profession do

Job Title What they do How to become one
Music High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market. High school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license. Education All states require public high school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most states require public high school teachers to have majored in a subject area, such as science or history.
Music Performance Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Educational and training requirements for music directors and composers vary, although most positions require related work experience. A conductor for a symphony orchestra typically needs a master’s degree; a choir director may need a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal educational requirements for those interested in writing popular music. Education Employers generally prefer candidates with a master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting for positions as a conductor or classical composer. Applicants to postsecondary programs in music typically are required to submit recordings, audition in person, or both.
Musicology ,Ethnomusicology, Music Education Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Educational and training requirements for music directors and composers vary, although most positions require related work experience. A conductor for a symphony orchestra typically needs a master’s degree; a choir director may need a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal educational requirements for those interested in writing popular music. Education Employers generally prefer candidates with a master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting for positions as a conductor or classical composer. Applicants to postsecondary programs in music typically are required to submit recordings, audition in person, or both.
Conducting Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Educational and training requirements for music directors and composers vary, although most positions require related work experience. A conductor for a symphony orchestra typically needs a master’s degree; a choir director may need a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal educational requirements for those interested in writing popular music. Education Employers generally prefer candidates with a master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting for positions as a conductor or classical composer. Applicants to postsecondary programs in music typically are required to submit recordings, audition in person, or both.
Voice and Opera Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Educational and training requirements for music directors and composers vary, although most positions require related work experience. A conductor for a symphony orchestra typically needs a master’s degree; a choir director may need a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal educational requirements for those interested in writing popular music. Education Employers generally prefer candidates with a master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting for positions as a conductor or classical composer. Applicants to postsecondary programs in music typically are required to submit recordings, audition in person, or both.
Jazz/Jazz Studies Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. There are no postsecondary education requirements for musicians or singers interested in performing popular music. However, many performers of classical music and opera have at least a bachelor’s degree. Education There are no postsecondary education requirements for those interested in performing popular music. Many musicians and singers of classical music and opera have a bachelor’s degree in music theory or performance.
Art/Art Studies High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market. High school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license. Education All states require public high school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most states require public high school teachers to have majored in a subject area, such as science or history.
Fine/Studio Arts Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one. Craft and fine artists improve their skills through practice and repetition. Most fine artists earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts in order to improve their skills and job prospects. Education Most fine artists pursue postsecondary education to earn degrees that can improve their skills and job prospects. A formal educational credential is typically not needed for anyone to be a craft artist.
Art History, Criticism and Conservation Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items, and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits. Archivist, curator, and conservator positions typically require a master’s degree related to the position’s field. Museum technicians typically have a bachelor’s degree. Prior experience through an internship or by volunteering in archives and museums is helpful in getting a position as an archivist or a curator, museum technician, or conservator. Education Archivists. Archivists typically need a master’s degree in history, library science, archival science, political science, or public administration.
Design and Visual Communications Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts. A bachelor’s degree is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. It is also important for industrial designers to have an electronic portfolio with examples of their design projects. Education A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. Most industrial design programs include courses in drawing, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), and three-dimensional modeling, as well as courses in business, industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits more than 360 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design.

Job Outlook for other majors in Visual and Performing Arts

Job Title Number of jobs Median Salary Job outlook
Music 1018700 $60320 As fast as average
Music Performance 74800 $49630 As fast as average
Jazz/Jazz Studies 172400 $null As fast as average
Art/Art Studies 1018700 $60320 As fast as average
Fine/Studio Arts 53400 $48960 As fast as average
Art History, Criticism and Conservation 31000 $48400 Faster than average
Design and Visual Communications 39700 $66590 Slower than average