Can I Really Make a Living as a Ballroom Dance Teacher?

Yes, you can pay your bills on a ballroom dance teacher's income! Find out how much money ballroom dance teachers make in this week's article.

Date added to ADN: Thursday, Jun 27 2013
Originally Published: Thursday, Jun 27 2013
By Diane Jarmolow


Many people assume there's no money in dance. And unfortunately, this is often the case for many genres of dance. However, if you become a ballroom dance instructor, there is money in it. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Most ballroom students are working adults with disposable income.

  • Ballroom dancing appeals to a wide range of people as it has something for everyone—fun, romance, exercise, community, creativity, personal expression and performance.

  • When the dance bug bites, people often take lessons for years.

  • To develop to a high level, ballroom dancing requires taking private lessons on a regular basis. Like taking golf or tennis lessons, people expect to pay more for individual lessons.

  • Between American and International Styles, there are 27 dances—and that's not even counting Country Western, Cumbia, Bachata, and other "street" dances. That's a lot of material to keep students dancing!

For all of these reasons, ballroom dance teachers can fill up their schedule with committed students paying private-lesson rates. Then, it is up to the instructor to nurture and teach in a way that keeps students coming back.

While many factors influence a ballroom dance teacher's income, a key determinate is whether you are a dance studio employee or an independent instructor. Most new ballroom dance teachers start out working for a dance studio. The studio usually offers teachers a salary, and may give commissions on lesson sales.

As with most jobs, ballroom dance teacher salaries vary geographically and tend to be commensurate with the local cost of living. For example, in California's high-priced San Francisco Bay Area, a ballroom dance teacher's starting salary may be between $25 – $35K. In areas where the cost of living is lower, teachers' initial salaries will likely be a little less.

In addition to regional variations, ballroom dance teachers' salaries also vary depending on factors such as dance ability, teaching skill and experience, personality and (e.g., good with people, creates goals for and monitors students' progress), plus whether the person has taken a teacher training program or has dance instructor certification. As in other careers, excellence in the ballroom dance industry does get rewarded. A teacher with a fantastic reputation will be given more opportunities by the studio, and will likely have a waiting list of students!

In time, a ballroom dance teacher may transition from being a studio employee to being a self-employed, independent dance teacher. In this situation, the teacher is paid directly by their students, and then pays the studio an hourly or monthly fee for use of the floor (i.e., floor rent). This means as an independent ballroom dance teacher, you take home the lion's share of students' fees.

To help you get an idea of what kind of income you can expect as an experienced, independent ballroom dance teacher, here's a breakdown showing the differences depending on the hourly rate you charge and the number of lessons you teach per week. I used $10/hr as the floor rent fee, however, depending on your region and studio, floor rent may be more or less.

Dance Teacher Income Based on 10 lessons/week

Hourly rate
Hourly income after $10 floor rent
10 lessons/week
Yearly income after floor rent (48 wks per year)

Dance Teacher Income Based on 20 lessons/week

Hourly rate
Hourly income after $10 floor rent
20 lessons/week
Yearly income after floor rent (48 wks per year)

Dance Teacher Income Based on 30 lessons/week

Hourly rate
Hourly income after $10 floor rent
30 lessons/week
Yearly income after floor rent (48 wks per year)

Not too shabby, huh? And this is with 4 weeks off per year!

Independent ballroom teachers do pay other business expenses in addition to floor rent. These include training and coaching to continually grow your own skills, dance shoes, music, and costumes for competing with students. Most independent dance teachers spend $3K- $6K per year on such expenses. Fortunately, business expenses like these are tax write offs for self-employed dance instructors.

I hope this post has helped you see that becoming a ballroom dance teacher is a viable career—exciting, satisfying, joy-filled, and financially profitable!



Check out Diane's blog here

About the Author:

Diane Jarmolow is a pioneer in the field of ballroom dancing. She founded the first vocational training for ballroom dance teachers, the Ballroom Dance Teachers College (BDTC). Based in Oakland, California, BDTC has trained hundreds of people to become successful dance instructors, and Diane's BDTC-in-a-Box is being used to train teachers in studios throughout North America and abroad.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the AccessDance Network. Be aware that imagery is copyrighted and often licensed for use on AccessDance only. Copying of images is strictly prohibited.

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Ballroom Dance Teachers College
Oakland AND San Francisco, CA 94616

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