Job Description:

Dancers use movement to perform for live audiences or in recorded performances.

Job Category:
Tourism, Hospitality & Entertainment

What you will do:

You’ll specialise in a form of dance, like:

  • classical ballet
  • contemporary dance
  • modern stage dance, like jazz, tap, and musical theatre
  • African or Asian dance
  • street dance

Typically you could:

  • rehearse routines
  • prepare for and go to auditions
  • take part in dance classes and maintain your fitness
  • perform in front of a live audience or to a camera
  • promote yourself as a performer


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (leadership skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • persistence and determination
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • physical fitness and endurance
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses


You’ll usually need a degree or diploma in professional dance or musical theatre. These take 2 to 3 years to complete and are offered by dance schools, performing arts schools and universities.

Academic qualifications may not be essential if you show enough talent at audition.

You could get a Dance and Drama Award to help with fees and living costs.


There is no set entry route to become a dancer but it may be useful to do a relevant subject. In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Diploma in Performing Arts
  • Extended Diploma in Performing Arts – Dance
  • Level in Dance

For entry to some courses you may need to attend an audition.


Dancing is very competitive and you’ll need to develop your skills by getting as much dancing experience as possible.

You could do this through:

  • amateur dance clubs
  • college and university dance societies
  • student dance festivals and competitions

This can also help you to build a network of contacts in the dance profession. This will be useful when looking to get experience or a job.

Direct Application

You can apply directly to become a dancer, if you have a high level of training and ability in at least one form of dance.

Other Routes

Most professional dancers start taking dance classes from a young age. You can take graded exams from awarding bodies.

Career tips

Classical ballet dancers start training very young, usually at 10 or 11 years old. It’s possible to make a career in contemporary dance if you start at a later age, if you’re prepared to work hard and put in a lot of training.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 28-30 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays away from home.

You could work in a creative studio, in a theatre, at a TV studio, at a film studio, on a cruise ship or in the community. Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding, you’ll travel often and you may spend nights away from home.

Career Path & Progression:

Many dancers combine their performance work with part time teaching or behind the scenes work in the arts.

With experience, you could become a choreographer or become self employed and set up your own dance school.

With further training, you could go into community arts development or dance therapy.