Dance Instructors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

In high school, immerse yourself in physical education, theatre, art, and dance classes to improve your fitness and develop your artistic abilities. Take speech and English classes to become a good communicator. Foreign language classes will help you to effectively communicate with students who do not speak English as their first language. If you plan to open your own dance studio, be sure to take business, accounting, mathematics, and marketing classes.

Postsecondary Education

A dance instructor at a dance school or community center will not need a college degree, but they do need to be excellent dancers and teachers.

Dance educators who teach at four-year colleges and universities may need a master’s degree in dance. At a community college, a bachelor’s degree in dance may be the minimum educational requirement. About 240 colleges and universities offer programs leading to a bachelor’s or higher degree in dance, generally through the departments of physical education, theater, music, or fine arts. For a list of more than 80 accredited dance programs, visit the National Association of Schools of Dance’s Web site, 

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require high school teachers to have a bachelor's degree and to have completed an accredited teacher-training program, which includes many hours of supervised teaching.


The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) offers a certificate in dance education to those who complete 33 continuing education credits through its Online Professional Development Institute.

Some colleges, dance schools, and dance studios offer dance certificate programs. A few colleges—such as MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California—offer certificates in dance instruction. In MiraCosta’s program, students learn the basics of dance techniques, alignment and movement principles, elements of choreography, dance pedagogy techniques, and marketing and business operation skills. Contact schools in your area to learn about available programs.   

Other Education or Training

Many dance education associations provide continuing education opportunities. For example, the NDEO offers online classes such as:

  • Dance History: 1800 to Present
  • Creative Dance for Early Childhood
  • Ballet Theory and Composition
  • Pedagogy: Learning Styles and Theories
  • Introduction to Dance Education K-12: Theories and Practices
  • Teaching Dance to Students with Disabilities

Dance/USA and the National Dance Teachers of America also provide professional development opportunities.  

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

“With the explosion of dance, it is more important than ever to establish high teaching and ethical standards and to distinguish qualified teachers based on training, certification, and experience,” according to the National Dance Council of America. Several associations offer voluntary certification programs. For example, National Dance Teachers of America (NDTA) offers examinations for professional teacher certification at the bronze, silver, and/or gold levels in the following styles of dance:

  • American Smooth: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Peabody
  • American Rhythm: Cha, Rumba, Bolero, East Coast Swing, Mambo
  • International Standard: Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep
  • International Latin: Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, Jive
  • Americana: Samba, Merengue, Salsa, Hustle, West Coast Swing

Additional certification programs are available through the following organizations (which include NDTA) of the National Dance Council: Arthur Murray International, Dance Teachers Club of Boston, Dance Vision International Dancers Association, Fred Astaire Dance of North America, North American Dance Teachers Association, Pan American Teachers of Dancing, U.S. Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and U.S. Terpsichore Association.

Public school teachers must be licensed under regulations established by the department of education of the state in which they teach. Dance studio owners may need to have a business license. Contact your city and/or state's department of business regulation for more information on obtaining a license.

Other Requirements

Some employers may require instructors to undergo a background check and a drug test and have CPR and first aid certifications.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Dance instructors need extensive experience as dancers and, ideally, at least one year of experience as an assistant dance teacher. Some dance schools, such as the Fred Astaire Dance Studios, do not require any experience (although it is recommended), and have training programs or boot camps for aspiring instructors.

Dance instructors must have a deep love of dancing and a passion for teaching and inspiring others. They should be in excellent health and good physical shape in order to demonstrate dance moves and techniques. Other important traits include an outgoing, energetic, and positive personality; good time-management and organizational skills; creativity; patience; and the ability to work well with people of different ages and abilities. Those who operate their own dance studios need good business and marketing skills.