How long does it take to become a dance teacher?

If you have ever dreamed of becoming a dance teacher you might have wondered how long it might actually take you to reach your goal. I have taught dance at private studios and in a K-6 school setting so I have some knowledge and background info on the topic!

How long does it take to become a dance teacher? Well, it can take anywhere from between 1 day to 20 years or more! The difference depends on what you want to be able to teach, how well you want to be able to teach it and how much you expect to be renumerated for your services.

In one day you could learn a simple hip hop routine or social line dance, and be ready and confident enough to teach it for free to a group of elderly people in a retirement home.

But if you want to teach ballet at the American Ballet School or Jazz Classes at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York, open up your own profitable dance school or teach within the public school system you will need years and years of training and experience as a student and in performance to be able to do so. The following information is fairly broad and generally covers not just the US but Canada, Australia and the UK as well!

Quick Guide: How many years of training does it take to become a dance teacher?

The following table is a quick guide to approximately how many years you might expect to train to be able to teach dance in different situations, click each link to get more details as I explain each teaching pathway in more detail and further in the article I give you a link to our article that describes how much you might be paid as a dance teacher per hour.

Please note the following is not exact – but an estimate and guide to give you an idea of the time it would take to become a dance teacher in various positions.

DANCE TEACHING POSITIONON AVERAGE HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE
K-12 School Dance Teacher Minimum 4 years
College or University Dance Teacher Minimum 6-8 years
Professional Ballet School or Company Teacher20 plus Years
Professional Dance Studio Instructor10 plus years
Professional Dance Studio Instructor
(Hip hop, new styles such as waacking etc…)
1 or more years
Dance Studio Owner Operator10 plus years
Dance Studio Owner or Teacher who Teaches a Recognised Syllabus or Curriculum 10 plus years
Teacher for a Private Dance Studio 5 or more years
Community Centre Dance Class Teacher1 or more years
Franchised Dance School Teacher/Owner
(generally teaching preschoolers)
3mths or more

K-12 School Dance Teacher

A K-12 school dance teacher is someone who works in the public or private education sector – junior schools, high schools, primary schools etc… and is required to obtain qualifications and certifications to be employed.

Approximate Training Time

Minimum 4 years full time

Timeline Examples

4 year example: Someone who has never danced before, but decides to take some dance courses as part of their college education degree and either ends up minoring or majoring in dance and then goes on to be employed in a public school to teach dance.

15 year example: Someone who has danced from a young age and then completes a 4 or 5 year college degree majoring in dance and education and is employed in a public school to teach dance.

Qualifications Needed

To teach dance in a K-12 school setting you will generally need to complete a 3-5 year college degree and then apply for certification or a license from your state or country education board to teach.

For a list of colleges that offer dance and education programs check out our post Dance Colleges Across All 50 States: The Ultimate List with Links.

For a list of colleges with dance programs where you need no previous dance experience check out our post Can You Major in Dance With No Experience? No Audition College List!


College or University Dance Teacher

A college or university dance teacher is the teacher who teaches the teachers and future professional dancers of our world. They work in dance, theatre, kinesiology or physical education departments at colleges and universities all over the world.

Approximate Training Time

Minimum 6-8 years full time

Timeline Examples

6-8 year example: Someone who has never danced before, but decides to try dance as part of their university degree and ends up majoring in dance and then goes on to complete a Masters Degree and even a Ph.D. in Dance.

15 year example: Someone who has danced from a young age and then completes college degree majoring in dance and then goes on to complete a Masters Degree and even a Ph.D. in Dance.

Qualifications Needed

To teach dance at a university or college level you need to have been a college graduate yourself and completed graduate studies such as a Master’s degree and in some cases have or possibly be working towards a PhD.

Some professional artists without qualifications are contracted to teach university students on a guest teaching basis under a supervising teacher or department.

For a list of colleges that offer dance and education programs check out our post Dance Colleges Across All 50 States: The Ultimate List with Links.

For a list of colleges with dance programs where you need no previous dance experience check out our post Can You Major in Dance With No Experience? No Audition College List!


Professional Ballet School or Company Teacher

A professional ballet school or company teacher is generally someone who has been a professional ballet dancer or modern/contemporary dancer themselves. They are employed by pre-professional ballet schools that are training their students to enter modern dance or ballet companies. Or they might be employed by the actual modern dance or ballet company to conduct daily technique classes or rehearse repertoire with professional ballerinas and dancers.

Approximate Training Time

20 plus Years

Timeline Examples

Start ballet training around the age of 8, enters a pre-professional school at 13, accepted into a professional company at the age of 18, retires from professional stage work and begins teaching in their 30’s or 40’s.

Qualifications Needed

A dancer with this amount of experience may need no formal qualifications. They may have innate teaching skills recognized by other professionals and be invited to teach. Alternatively, to be more employable at the end of their career they might have completed formal teaching education in the form of a diploma, certificate or college degree.


Professional Dance Studio Instructor

(Commercial, Musical Theatre, Ballet, Jazz, Tap)

A Professional level Dance Instructor is a dance teacher that teaches commercial dance, musical theatre or broadway, Ballet, jazz, tap and a variety of other classes to other professional dancers or aspiring professional dancers.

Approximate Training Time

10 plus years

Timeline Examples

Starts dance lessons in a variety of styles and genres as a young kid for a hobby, becomes serious as a teen and begins to audition as a young adult and works on and off professionally and teaches to supplement their wage.

Qualifications Needed

No qualification is generally needed to teach at a professional level studio. What is needed is experience as a professional dancer


Professional Dance Studio Instructor

(Hip hop, street dance and new styles such as waacking etc…)

I have added being a Professional Dance Instructor of hip hop and even street dance and other new styles such as waacking… separately. The reason for this is because although any dance style takes time to master (read How many years of dance or ballet does it take to be a professional?) some creative, dedicated and passionate people are able to master certain skills within these genres quickly and establish themselves as leaders and creatives of their style, especially as they rely on popular trends which can change quickly.

Approximate Training Time

1 or more years

Timeline Examples

Begins hip hop lessons at age 20, becomes passionate and dedicated, starts attending lessons 3 or 4 times a week. Begins teaching beginner lessons, has a knack for creating popular choreography and with experience moves into teaching intermediate and advanced hip hop classes.

Qualifications Needed

No qualification is needed, experience dedication and passion for dancing and teaching is required.


Dance Studio Owner Operator

A teacher who opens up their own studio or dance school business and who may also employ other teachers to teach classes when their school has too many students for them to be able to cater for, or when they require expertise in other genres they have not mastered themselves. A dance studio operator not only needs to teach dance, they need to understand how to run a profitable business.

Approximate Training Time

10 plus years

Timeline Examples

On the Job Training: Starts dancing at a local studio as a young kid. Becomes an assistant teacher in their pre-teens. Takes on teaching some beginner dance classes for their teacher and learns administrative tasks such as enrollments and invoicing. Takes over their old dance school for their teacher or opens a new one a few suburbs away. They may or may not also have a full or part-time job somewhere else.

College Degree: Starts dancing as a teen and wants to continue their passion through a college degree and double majors in dance and business with a concentration in choreography and a certificate in entrepreneurship. Opens a studio after graduation. They may or may not also have a full or part-time job somewhere else.

Qualifications Needed

Realistically anyone who has the money and resources no matter their experience could open a dance studio tomorrow! The good news is that not many people would really do this because not only is running a studio hard work and only for the passionate dancer teacher – as a customer who would really want to learn off someone with no experience. Therefore the more experience and qualifications you have, the better placed you are to attract students.

Have a read of our article What Qualifications Do I Need to be a Dance Teacher? to get an idea of some of the qualifications you could obtain to be a great dance teacher.

Lastly as a business owner you may need to obtain operating or other certificates as per your state or local council requirements.


Dance Studio Owner or Teacher who Teaches a Recognised Syllabus or Curriculum

This category describes a pathway where a dance teacher becomes approved to teach a recognized dance syllabus or curriculum such as Royal Academy of Dance, Cecchetti, British Ballet Organization, Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dance etc… These dance teachers train their students to perform specific exercises and choreography set by an association, board or visionary to be assessed by an external examiner.

Approximate Training Time

10 plus years

Timeline Examples

Begins as a student dancing at a studio that follows a syllabus. Over the years they progress through each level and obtain their student teaching certificate at 17, whilst also getting on the job training as a teaching assistant or teaching under supervision before attempting their full teacher exams which then enable them to open their own studio and teach the curriculum and syllabus they followed as a dance student.

They may even go onto to further study and become examiners themselves.

Qualifications Needed

To be able to teach a syllabus or curriculum you need to be approved or certified by the association, board or developer of that program or curriculum. This generally takes many years of progressing through the curriculum as a student.


Teacher for a Private Dance Studio

A teacher for a private dance studio is a dance teacher who is employed on a class by class, casual, contract or part-time basis to teach various styles of dance for a dance school or studio owned and run by someone else.

Approximate Training Time

5 or more years

Timeline Examples

On the Job Training: Starts dancing at a local studio as a young kid, teen or even adult. Becomes an assistant teacher, then takes on teaching some beginner dance classes for their teacher. As they gain experience they move into teaching intermediate and advanced classes and teach for other studios whilst also dabbling in some professional dance work. They may be studying or also have a part-time or full-time job.

College Degree: Starts dancing as a teen and wants to continue their passion through a college degree and majors or minors in dance with a concentration in choreography. They may be teaching throughout their degree and continue to do so when they graduate or start teaching at the end for one or a few studios. They may or may not also have a full or part-time job elsewhere.

Qualifications Needed

To be able to teach dance in a privately run studio you need experience in dance and a passion to pass on your knowledge and skills to others. How much experience you will need will vary, but basically you need to be a better dancer and more knowledgeable about dance than the students in your classroom, and you need to be able to teach with authority and confidence otherwise studio owners, parents and students will not pay for your services.


Community Centre Dance Class Teacher

A dance teacher providing free or inexpensive dance classes accessible through a community center, church group, outreach program or charity.

Approximate Training Time

1 or more years

Timeline Examples

Begins taking hip hop or tap dance lessons for a year and as part of their church group and mission of service provides beginner hip hop or tap dance lessons to their local church youth or community.

Qualifications Needed

Ideally, everyone who teaches dance should have as much experience as possible to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Your state or local council may have laws or requirements of certification and qualifications for all their services providers so this is something you must individually investigate.


Franchised Dance School Teacher/Owner

Just like you can become a franchisee and be supported in owning your own restaurant, hotel, gardening service, or cleaning service you can also buy into a dance school franchise where you will be supported and trained to teach dance generally to preschoolers and kindergarten children.

Approximate Training Time

It can vary from 3 months plus.

Timeline Examples

A person might have danced as a hobby when they were younger and now their children are all at school so they are wanting to work part-time during school hours. So they buy into a dance school franchise and train for 3-6mths a couple of hours a week and assists in another franchise before opening their own within 12 months.

Qualifications Needed

To be approved as a franchisee of a dance franchise system or program you need to have some sort of passion for and knowledge of dance, drama or music. As well as the temperament to have fun and teach young children. You would also need the funding to buy into the franchise and the determination to be your own boss and make your business successful.


How much does a dance teacher make per hour?

For each of these different dance teaching jobs, you would expect a different amount of pay right! I mean if you are an experienced professional dancer with many years under your belt you would expect they would be paid better than a student-teacher at a local studio. Fortunately, this is exactly what the numbers by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show and you can read more about how much dancers and dance teachers are paid in our article How Much Do Dancers and Ballerinas Make? Salary/ Earnings Guide as I update this information annually in that post to ensure the most current information is available in one place.

Related Articles you might like to read!

PLEASE NOTE: This article is for information purposes only, a spring board or starting point that will give you ideas, resources and links to help you on your journey to become a dance teacher. The information contained in this article is very broad and is meant to help everyone no matter which country or state you live in but may not be accurate for your circumstances therefore you will need to research your countries or states laws on teaching especially teaching children.

About the Author

Samantha Bellerose

Samantha is a wife and mother of four kids aged 1-9. She danced and acted from the age of 5 and performed in film clips, on television, and in musical theatre professionally. She also taught dance, but after leaving the profession to backpack through Europe, Canada and the USA with her husband for three years, she then completed an Education Degree and taught within primary schools in Australia. Today she is a business owner with her husband and the creator and writer for Dance Parent 101 where she hopes her previous experience as a dancer, current experience as a dance parent and the research and writing skills she gained completing her education degree will help enlighten parents on their journey with their child through the world of dance.