Dancers and choreographers
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Dancers
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Overview
Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for dancers are expected to grow by 5%, and should have about 2,100 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Dancers are less likely to be automated than 73% of other careers.
Workforce size
Dancers, with 13,500 workers, form a smaller workforce than 81% of careers.
Education
Only 27% of dancers and choreographers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by dancers and choreographers
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
This is near the middle of all careeers' percentages of bachelor's holders.
Gender
Women account for 80% of dancers and choreographers -- that's a larger percentage than 91% of other jobs.
Gender of dancers and choreographers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. Women dancers and choreographers actually earned more than men -- a very rare occurance among careers!
Race/Origin
About 29% of dancers and choreographers are minority, and 13% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of dancers and choreographers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (13%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Dancers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 5% of dancers and choreographers, and 9% have company-sponsored health insurance (28% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for dancers and choreographers
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of dancers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (49%)
  • Time Pressure (43%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (41%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do dancers and choreographers earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. In particular, the ACS data is reported for the larger career group dancers and choreographers, which combines the data for 2 careers, including dancers. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data is classified by SOC specialty, and excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for dancers, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for dancers compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for dancers (BLS Salary Data)
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. Additionally, we only have ACS survey data for the larger career category and not for the specialty level. We first show the full salary distribution for all dancers and choreographers, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for dancers and choreographers compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for dancers and choreographers (ACS Salary Data)
$27K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$27K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where dancers work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Dancers and choreographers (ACS)
Private for-profit (60.5%)
Private not-for-profit (17.4%)
Local government (1.4%)
State government (0.8%)
Federal government (0.0%)
Self-employed incorporated (4.5%)
Self-employed not incorporated (15.4%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of dancers and choreographers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of dancers and choreographers, which combines the 2 specialties for this career.
$27K$30K$21K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Self-employed not incorporatedPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of dancers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty dancers, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$0All
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for dancers and choreographers

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$21K$31K$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
01K2K3KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Dancers and choreographers and gender

With 80% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 91% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
80%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Dancers and choreographers
Men (20%)
Women (80%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

Although nationally the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, in dancers and choreographers, the median salary for women is 4% higher than the median salary for men. There are only 19 other jobs in which the median women's salary exceeds the median men's salary. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$27K$26K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of dancers and choreographers

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority dancers and choreographers than for 86% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of dancers and choreographers
White (68% )
Black (17% )
Multiracial (7% )
Other (3% )
Asian (3% )
American Indian (2% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Hispanic (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
29%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
13%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for dancers and choreographers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$26K$33K$39K$0$20K$40K$60KWhiteHispanicBlack
Distribution: Salaries for dancers and choreographers by nativity
$28K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by dancers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dancers typically hold no formal educational credential.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as dancers and choreographers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for dancers and choreographers.

Education attained by dancers and choreographers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for dancers and choreographers? Below we see the distribution of dancers and choreographers salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as dancers and choreographers, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$31K$31K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KHigh School (35%)Associate's Degree (4%)
Certificate/degree pathways

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click a program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Program
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Less than bachelor's
bachelor's degree
Higher than bachelor's
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Dance
3,016
Musical Theatre
741
Specialized Study in Dance
77
Ballet
39
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for dancers and choreographers

What jobs will most dancers and choreographers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of dancers and choreographers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Dancers and choreographersTeachers and instructors (specialized areas)CashiersComputer occupations (specialized areas)Insurance sales agentsProducers and directorsEntertainers and related workers (specialized areas)Waiters and waitressesCustomer service representatives
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for dancers and choreographers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 3 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as dancers and choreographers as well as 1% of respondents after working as dancers and choreographers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for dancers and choreographers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Cashiers
659,300
$0$200K$20K
Teachers and instructors (specialized areas)
55,600
$0$200K$43K
Entertainers and related workers (specialized areas)
3,500
$0$200K$37K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for dancers and choreographers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as dancers and choreographers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of dancers and choreographers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for dancers and choreographers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Cashiers
659,300
$0$200K$20K
5.3%
Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers
389,900
$0$200K$28K
4.1%
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
380,800
$0$200K$25K
4.1%
Maids and housekeeping cleaners
207,700
$0$200K$20K
5.6%
Applications and systems software developers
118,900
$0$200K$96K
3.5%
Health Practitioner Support Technologists and Technicians
71,400
$0$200K$32K
3.2%
Preschool and kindergarten teachers
70,500
$0$200K$25K
3.1%
Teachers and instructors (specialized areas)
55,600
$0$200K$43K
7.5%
Food service managers
37,100
$0$200K$37K
1.7%
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
34,300
$0$200K$26K
3.0%
Chief executives and legislators
24,000
$0$200K$96K
3.8%
Entertainers and related workers (specialized areas)
3,500
$0$200K$37K
7.8%
Dancers and choreographers
3,200
$0$200K$27K
28.3%
No occupation
16.1%
Read about dancers
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Dancers typically do the following:

  • Audition for a part in a show or for a job within a dance company
  • Learn complex dance movements that entertain an audience
  • Rehearse several hours each day to prepare for their performance
  • Study new and emerging types of dance
  • Work closely with instructors, choreographers, or other dancers to interpret or modify their routines
  • Attend promotional events, such as photography sessions, for the production in which they are appearing

Dancers spend years learning dances and perfecting their skills. They usually perform as part of a group and know a variety of dance styles, including ballet, tap, and modern dance. In addition to traditional performances in front of a live audience, many perform on TV, in videos on the Internet, and in music videos, in which they also may sing or act. Many dancers perform in shows at casinos, in theme parks, and on cruise ships.

Choreographers typically do the following:

  • Put together moves in a sequence to create new dances or interpretations of existing dances
  • Choose the music that will accompany a dance routine
  • Audition dancers for a role in a show or within a dance company
  • Assist with costume design, lighting, and other artistic aspects of a show
  • Teach complex dance movements
  • Study new and emerging types of dance to design more creative dance routines
  • Help with the administrative duties of a dance company, such as budgeting

Choreographers create original dances and develop new interpretations of existing dances. They work in dance schools, theaters, dance companies, and movie studios. During rehearsals, they typically demonstrate dance moves, to instruct dancers in the proper technique. Many choreographers also perform the dance routines they create. Some choreographers work with performers who are not trained dancers. For example, the complex martial arts scenes performed by actors in movies are arranged by choreographers who specialize in martial arts.

Some dancers and choreographers hold other jobs between roles to make a living.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of dancers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Athleticism
Successful dancers must have excellent balance, physical strength, and physical dexterity so that they can move their bodies without falling or losing their sense of rhythm.
Creativity
Dancers need artistic ability and creativity to express ideas through movement. Choreographers also must have artistic ability and innovative ideas, to create new and interesting dance routines.
Leadership skills
Choreographers must be able to direct a group of dancers to perform the routines that they have created.
Persistence
Dancers must commit to years of intense practice. They need to be able to accept rejection after auditions and to continue to practice for future performances. Choreographers must keep studying and creating new routines.
Physical stamina
Dancers are often physically active for long periods, so they must be able to rehearse for many hours without getting tired.
Teamwork
Most dance routines involve a group or pairs, so dancers must be able to work together to be successful.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for dancers
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

All jobs' median $39K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for dancers are anticipated to grow by 5% over the next decade; 62% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for dancers is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

200020102020203005,00010,00015,00020,00025,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most dancers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as dancers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all dancers and choreographers, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Dancers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.60.8
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where dancers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for dancers and choreographers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for dancers and choreographers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all dancers and choreographers, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Median salary ratio: Dancers to all workers (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which dancers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Dancers and choreographers (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
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Knowledge
Physical Abilities
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