Turning a passion into a profession is the dream for many budding self-employed dance instructors – teaching a creative skill can be an incredibly rewarding way to earn a living.
But where do you start?
Our six-step guide to becoming a dance teacher covers all the bases, from the type of qualifications to aim for, to the personal qualities you need, to the practical side of being a small business owner, like tax and insurance.
Beyond the essential experience in and passion for dance required to make it as a dance teacher, here are a few other skills, qualities and abilities you’re likely to need.
They generally apply whether you’re looking for ballet teacher training courses or you plan to go into teaching ballroom dancing, and all the other genres in between.
There are a wide range of possible options when it comes to where and how you want to teach dance. For example, you could get into teaching in schools.
If you want to teach at primary level, it's possible to train as a primary school teacher and then specialise in physical education (PE). This would then allow you to teach dance or creative movement, depending on the school you choose.
At secondary level, you have the option to teach dance as a subject in its own right. Alternatively, you could combine your expertise with PE, drama or performing arts teaching.
To lecture at a university would require you to have plenty of teaching experience and a postgraduate qualification, unless you already have a recognised profile as a professional performer.
If self-employment is your preferred setup, you could look into dance teacher qualifications that include teacher training. Getting qualified while you work at a dance school is also an option. See step 4 for more on this.
Universities will generally require you to have the following qualifications before they accept you onto a dance education degree programme:
Be prepared to attend an audition or interview too.
If you don’t have the required secondary school grades, you could look into sitting them at a further education college. Alternatively, some higher education establishments may take your extensive experience into account when deciding whether or not to award you a place on their course.
For college courses, the entry requirements are usually 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course. You’ll need to make sure your course or courses qualify you in both dance and teaching.
Depending on your plans, there are a few possible routes you can take to launch your career as a dance teacher.
A range of universities and other higher and further education institutes offer dance teacher training in the UK. For example, the Royal Academy of Dance offers a BA (Hons) Dance Education (BADE) and the University of Central Lancashire offers a Dance Performance and Teaching BA (Hons).
A wide range of colleges and dance institutions up and down the UK offer dance teacher training, not least The Royal Ballet School, which offers its Diploma of Dance Teaching.
It’s also possible to become a dance teacher while you work. This route requires you to have plenty of practical experience. You could get a job with a private dance academy and work towards an accredited qualification while you learn from your employer.
See the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre for a list of approved dance teacher qualification awarding organisations.
Going into teaching as a profession means you’re likely to come into contact with vulnerable groups, such as children, through your work. This means you’ll need Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service clearance (formerly termed CRB).
Your training provider or employer will be able to help you get this. If you need to apply as an individual, you can contact your Local Authority or governing body.
To give your potential students confidence in your credibility as a dance teacher, it’s worthwhile joining a professional dance teachers’ association. This can also be a great way to connect with other teachers and keep up with what’s happening in the industry.
Besides being a professional body, the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA) also provides support and guidance if you’re just starting out on your journey to becoming a dance teacher.
You could also look into becoming a member of the National Association of Teachers of Dancing (NATD).
Setting up as a self-employed dance teacher means you’ll need to consider some extra essential steps to take as you’ll technically be starting your own business.
Make sure you register as self-employed with HMRC as soon as possible, to make sure you pay the correct tax on your earnings and avoid any surprise bills in the future.
Find out more about how to register as self-employed with HMRC.
It really depends on your individual setup, but having the right level of dance teacher insurance in place can set your mind at rest in case anything goes wrong.
Public liability insurance is a fundamental cover for lots of public-facing professions, including dance teachers.
You can be the best dance teacher in the world, but if people don’t know who you are and what you’re about, why would they come to you for lessons?
Getting some simple flyers and business cards printed to place with local businesses is one option. But having a presence on social media and a clean and simple website could actually give you more return on your marketing investment.
Try to put yourself in your potential students’ (or their parents’) shoes – what would you like to see from a dance teacher to give you confidence that they’re the right person to teach you to pirouette, plié, boogaloo or moonwalk?
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re well on your way to becoming a dance teacher, let us know how it’s going in the comments below.
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