What are we constantly trying to make more of and never seem to have enough of? If your first thought was money, then bingo, you’re dead on. If your first thought was coffee… you’re also spot on, but that’s not the focus of today’s article. We’re going to talk about making money, and the various ways you can do that as a dancer. Growing up, I was taught that there are really only two types of jobs a dancer can have; you can be a performer, or a teacher. That was the extent of my knowledge about jobs for dancers. Now I know that the list of options for dancers to make money is much, much longer. And thank goodness for that, because not everyone is meant to teach two year olds how to froggy hop, and not everyone has a calling for the stage. The truth is, you should love what you do and you should be able to use your dance skills and dance knowledge to make good money. I emphasize the word good, because it’s time to eradicate the stereotype that there’s no “money” to be found in dance. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose parents were concerned about my financial wellbeing when I told them I wanted to be a dancer when I grow up. But as you’re about to see, dancers can make good money. So here we go… ranked by average income (according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics) let’s look at 10 jobs for dancers that do not necessarily fit the “norm”.
Chances are there is a skill that you can pair with your dance knowledge to help you earn a comfortable living.
Now before I start the countdown, I want to preface that these numbers are average annual incomes. In reality, many people can make much more depending on their seniority, education, and ability.
With that being said, let’s kick it off with trusty number ten:
10. The fitness instructor.
I know… shocker, but this is one of the easiest transitions a dancer can make. Dancers are basically athletic models who fall into the fitness world like butter on toast. It’s a very natural transition from dancer to group fitness instructor or personal trainer. Keep in mind most fitness jobs will require a 250 to 500 hour teacher training program, but most are affordable and doable for the average citizen. As a fitness instructor, you can also choose your own schedule, and you’re not locked into a standard 9 to 5. If fitness sounds like the avenue for you, the average instructor makes $40,510 a year. Now of course, depending on where you teach, you could make much more. For instance, a teacher in New York is definitely going to make more than a teacher in Ohio.
- Pros: Easy transition, only requires a certification or teacher training, there’s a nationwide need for fitness instructors at all times, flexible hours
- Cons: Lowest average annual income, doesn’t usually come with benefits
9. The dance administrator.
Okay… this one is broad. But for the most part, dance administration refers to the general positions that keep a company, studio, or dance facility on track. Dance administrators can do anything and everything a company or studio may require; scheduling, front desk management, program development, bookkeeping, communication, ordering, organizing, and the list goes on. The dance administrator is the glue that keeps a dance facility together. The average annual income for this job is $40,990 and varies depending on experience. You will never have a dull day in this job and you will definitely have to call upon your dance knowledge in this position.
- Pros: You will always have plenty to do, you are invaluable to the organization, you get to wear multiple hats and use various skillsets
- Cons: Can be high stress, lower annual income, not a lot of flexibility in your schedule
8. The dance photographer.
This is fairly obvious, but in order to enjoy this job, you’ll need to have an interest in photography and some experience. To make a decent living as a dance photographer, you will also need to use your dance skills to know what kind of pictures dancers and directors want. This job is definitely a hustle, and requires networking and putting yourself out there on all social media platforms. People aren’t going to pay you to take pictures if they don’t know you exist. A dance photographer makes an average of $41,280 annually. Just make sure to incorporate the cost of equipment into your budget. This job is wonderful for free spirits who thrive off making their own schedule and running their own business.
- Pros: Extremely flexible, you are your own boss, creative outlet
- Cons: No benefits, pay can be inconsistent
7. The dance supplier.
This one may be a job you’ve never thought of before, but it actually requires a lot of dance knowledge and is a great way of making money as a dancer. Behind every good pair of ballet slippers, is a dance supplier who designed, created, and shipped those shoes. And who better to design products dancers need than a dancer?! You could also work for the retail store that sells the shoes and makes a living fitting dancers for pointe shoes or other specialty items. There are so many jobs available in this space, from designer, to assembly line, to sales, the possibilities are truly endless. On average, a dance supplier employee makes $49,000 annually.
- Pros: Steady pay and hours, benefits, opportunity to ladder up in the company
- Cons: Less schedule flexibility, will most likely start in an entry level position
6. The dance journalist.
Yep, you can choose to do exactly what I am doing right this minute. You can write for dance related companies who produce content for the dance community. This can include writing articles for dance magazines, dance journals, or specialized publications. You can utilize your skillset as a writer along with your dance knowledge to make money! The average journalist makes $49,300 a year, and varies greatly depending on how hard you hustle. If you want a high income, you have to crank out articles like it's nobody’s business. If it’s more of a hobby, then you may not make as much as you need to cover the cost of living. If you choose this career path, you will want to make sure you have an extensive portfolio to show editors.
- Pros: Flexibility in your schedule, uses your creative background, has the potential to make a high income depending on output
- Cons: No benefits, no steady pay schedule
5. The event coordinator.
We’ve all been to at least one of these events, or we’ve at least seen them in the movies… dance galas, charity dance auctions, pre-performance dinners, post-performance dinners, the list goes on. Every company or major dance organization needs an event coordinator. But what’s cool about this job, is you can use your skillset outside of the dance field as well. You can be a full time coordinator for a company or you can be a coordinator for hire. Now that covid-safe protocols have become better-established , events are really starting to kick off again. Now could be a great time to get into this job opportunity. Event coordinators make an average of $51,560.
- Pros: Control over your own schedule, opportunity for growth
- Cons: Potentially no steady pay schedule, usually no benefits
4. The non-profit creator.
Do you have a passion for giving back? Maybe you’ve always wanted to help promote the arts for less fortunate communities. The answer for you may be to create your own non-profit organization. To be clear, most dance companies are non-profit. This simply means they are “not for profit”. This does not mean you can’t have a salary. In fact, most non-profit creators make $69,600 a year. Think about a company director, they have an income don’t they!? Well you can too and you can still give back to the community in a big way. You could start a company that teaches dance classes to underserved schools, or maybe you could start a dance company that performs for impoverished communities. The options are endless. Just make sure you do your research and file all paperwork correctly.
- Pros: Full control over your own organization, huge opportunity for growth, good cause
- Cons: Probably won’t see growth for first 2 years, will need money to get started, will need additional employees
3. The costume designer.
This is a very niche job, but it’s perfect for those that fit the mold. If you are an expert on the sewing machine, have a passion for fashion, and have a wealth of dance knowledge, then you would make the perfect costume designer. This individual needs to know how a dancer has to move and should have a strong background in design. There are huge opportunities in the Broadway sphere along with the professional dance companies. Most companies have a full time designer and an entire team of seamstresses who assist the designer. A full time costume designer can make an average of $75,810 a year! And that’s just the average designer, think about what you could make as you become well known in the market.
- Pros: High income potential, niche job market
- Cons: Requires training and strong skillset
2. The stage manager/director.
If you are a natural born leader, looking to use your skillset as a dancer, and enjoy the sound of your own voice, you may want to consider becoming a director or a part of stage management. This is the person calling the shots and pulling the strings of the show. This is great for those who want to be a part of the production without actually being on the stage. This job can be demanding and is not for the faint of heart. You’re there before the dancers arrive and usually long after, but if you love getting results from people and admiring the final product, this job could be perfect for you. The average annual income for this job is $76,400.
- Pros: Great pay, leadership position
- Cons: Long hours, can be high stress
1. The marketing specialist.
Is social media where you shine? Do you love to show off the best version of yourself and thrive off the creation of a good post? Well marketing may be where you are supposed to be. Now there is an opportunity to make $100,000 a year on average as a marketing specialist, but if you are only wanting to market dance related organizations, then that number may be lower. Dance is a niche market, but there is definitely a need for individuals with a strong dance background to use their marketing skills. You could manage a company’s website, social media accounts, and blog activity. You could also be in charge of the marketing and promo items, such as merchandise, banners, and pamphlets. This is an ever-growing emerging area of employment that requires self-starters.
- Pros: Flexibility in schedule, opportunities to work remote, high income
- Cons: Can be demanding, desk work
You should love what you do and you should be able to use your dance skills and dance knowledge to make good money.
There are so many more opportunities for dancers to make money outside of teaching two-year olds. Chances are there is a skill that you can pair with your dance knowledge to help you earn a comfortable living. And despite what people may have told you, a career in dance does not have to be confined to the “starving artist” stigma. So let’s stop the negative talk about the struggling dancer. The truth is, if you put in the hard work and dedication, you can make really good money at almost any job. The most important thing is to truly love what you do, and then go out and do it. I wish you the best in your career journey. Now go out and get em!