How to Become a Dance Choreographer

Dance Choreographer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $55,780
Avg. Pay / hour $26.82
Education 0-6 Months
Job Outlook -3%

So, you think you can dance, but what you really want to do is become a dance choreographer.

If you have good movement and rhythm, great communication skills, and know how to dance, then you might like to become a dance choreographer.

If you would like to become a dance choreographer, you’ll need to have plenty of skill, as well as a bit of patience.

With the popularity of some recent reality TV shows, this has become a sought after career path.

Education Requirements to Become a Dance Choreographer

Of course, to become a dance choreographer, you’ll need to be a dancer.

At the very least, you’ll need to have a very good knowledge or dancing, or have been a dancer previously.

While there isn’t really any formal education requirement, a qualification from a fine arts school in dance, or a degree in human movement, can help you as a dance choreographer.

They key to becoming a dance choreographer is experience.

Start working as a dancer, be a part of local productions, and if you can, larger ones.

Start putting together your own routines.

Let local theaters or dance schools know your interest in choreography and seek out opportunities.

Internships with larger dance companies or theater groups can be very helpful in order to gain experience, and also to meet people who are already in the industry.

A good idea is to start putting together a video portfolio of routines you have choreographed.

Once you have a good collection together, start sending them out to employers.

When you are ready to become a full time dance choreographer, start sending out resumes.

There are jobs in dance companies, in the media, on cruise ships and all kinds of places.

You’ll be responsible for many dancers during performances and rehearsals.

For this reason a working knowledge of first aid is recommended in case an injury should occur.

Dance Choreographer Job Description

A dance choreographer comes up with the ideas for dance routines.

They may work in a particular area of dance, for instance ballet, jazz, or modern.

The dance may be for a performance, competition, or recital.

Choreographers also create routines for film clips and concerts and will often be responsible for other areas of a dance performance, such as music choice and costume design.

To start putting a routine together, a dance choreographer will make some notes of ideas.

They may have seen something in a dance that caught their eye, be inspired by a certain style of dance, or have some completely original ideas.

They will then refine their ideas until they have a routine.

A dance choreographer will then take the routine to a group of dancers, and teach it to them.

The will rehearse with them, and lead them through the process until its ready to perform.

Here are some of the tasks of a dance choreographer:

  • Coming up with new dance ideas
  • Putting together choreography
  • Teaching choreography to dancers
  • Making sure that dancers are not at risk of injury
  • Changing choreography if problems are found
  • Attending a performance night
  • Designing costumes for dancers
  • Selecting music for a dance routine

Dance Choreographer Salary and Career Path

Most dance choreographers start out themselves as dancers.

When you become a dance choreographer, it’s likely your first few jobs will be with children or community groups.

With practice, your skills will increase and your reputation will grow.

After a bit of practice you will enter a paid job.

Dance choreographers are employed in many sectors.

From cruise ships, to ballroom dance clubs, to television studios, the job opportunities are as diverse as dance itself.

Some dance choreographers may go on to other roles within performance and dancing.

Some become instructors, or open dance schools.

The median salary for a dance choreographer is $38,000 a year.

Before you decide to become a choreographer, you should be aware that this is a competitive industry.

You will need to put a lot of work in before you get your break.

Some similar roles to dance choreographer that you might be interested in include:

While entry is competitive and growth slow, if you truly love dance it’s likely you’ll experience a great deal of job satisfaction when you become a dance choreographer.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Jersey$66,280
New Mexico$45,180
North Carolina$62,440
South Carolina$52,010
South Dakota$39,320
Puerto Rico$32,390

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $69,080.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $69,080
New Jersey - $66,280
Connecticut - $62,780
North Carolina - $62,440
Washington - $58,870
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Choreographers, OCC Code 27-2032, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dance choreographer?

Dance choreographers create dance routines and interpret existing dances.

They also choose the music that will accompany the dance, audition dancers and may assist with costume designing and lighting.

In order to design a creative dance routine, choreographers have to study new types of dances and keep up with the new trends in the field.

If they own their own company, choreographers may also help with the administrative duties of a dance company.

Among other skills, choreographers need creativity, leadership skills, and physical stamina.

How much does a dance choreographer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly pay for choreographers was 22.98, as of May 2018.

How much a choreographer makes depends on many factors, including their reputation and the region where they live.

Some earn around $10 an hour while others make more than $45 an hour.

How much does it cost to become a dance choreographer?

Most choreographers begin their careers as dancers.

Becoming a professional dancer requires many years of training and persistence.

Dancers usually start their training when they are very young and continue to learn and practice throughout their careers.

A bachelor’s degree program in dance costs, on average, around $40,000 a year but fees vary largely depending on the school and the program you choose.

What is the demand for dance choreographers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of choreographers is expected to decline 3 percent from 2018 to 2028.

The demand for choreographers varies by region, and usually, there are more job opportunities for dancers and choreographers in large cities, such as New York.

However, job opportunities for choreographers may also be available outside of dance companies.

Choreographers may find employment at TV stations or in the film industry.

Competition in this field is expected to be intense and dancers and choreographers who have graduated from a post-secondary program should have the best job prospects.

Choreographers may also work as dance teachers or may become theater, film or television producers or directors.

How long does it take to become a dance choreographer?

Most choreographers start as dancers and become choreographers as they advance in their careers.

Becoming a professional dancer requires many years of training.

Dancers usually start their training when they are very young and continue to learn throughout their careers.

The exact age when dancers begin training depends on the type of dancer.

Ballet dancers, for example, begin their training when they are between 5 and 8 years old and are ready to become professional dancers by the time they are 18.

Modern dancers, on the other hand, begin training in their teens by attending after-school programs.

Some also enroll at four-year bachelor’s degree programs.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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