Category:Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

About the job

Nature of work:

This group includes dancers and dance teachers. Dancers are employed by ballet and dance companies, television and film productions and night clubs and similar establishments. Dancers perform either alone or as part of a group for live audiences or for television or film tapings. Dance teachers are employed by dance academies and dance schools.

Job duties:
Dancers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Practice and rehearse dance routines under direction or instruction to achieve desired interpretation and presentation.
  • Perform dances as soloists or as members of groups before live audiences or for film or television.
  • Train and exercise to maintain the required levels of ability and fitness.
  • May choreograph their own performances.
Dance teachers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Teach dance technique and artistic interpretation to amateur and professional individuals and groups.
  • Teach the techniques, cultural origins and symbolic meanings of Aboriginal, ethnic and folkloric dances.
  • Teach recreational dancing lessons such as ballroom dancing.
  • Prepare dance students for specific auditions and performances.

Dancers may specialize in specific types of dance such as ballet, ballroom, folk, jazz or modern.

Sample job titles:
  • ballerina
  • ballet dancer
  • ballroom dancing teacher
  • belly dancer
  • dance instructor
  • dancer
  • group dance teacher
  • interpretive dancer
  • tap dancer

To work in these fields, you should be dedicated, motivated, and willing to accept constructive criticism. Talent, creativity, and technical skills are essential. You must be comfortable working with others and performing before an audience. Self-discipline and a good business sense are also helpful.

Dancers must train and exercise diligently to stay in form, and they must be willing to accept direction as to interpretation and presentation. Today's dancers are expected to be versatile and skilled in many forms of dance. A solid foundation of ballet is required for most modern, jazz and even hip-hop jobs. Even classical ballet dancers need modern and/or jazz training.

Job requirements:
  • A university degree or college diploma in dance or graduation from a private dance school or academy may be required.
  • Membership in a guild or union related to the job or type of performance may be required.
Other considerations:

Talent and ability, as demonstrated during an audition, are important hiring criteria. Dance teachers usually require experience as dancers.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Average

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, which will provide additional opportunities for employment. Dancers most commonly work part-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. Also, a fair portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

The median employment income for 17% of Dancers who worked full-time, year-round in 2010 was $. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2011 National Household Survey)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2011Estimated change in employment between 2015 and 2017Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2015-2017Estimated rate of unemployment in 2014 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2010
Dancers125Strong Growth4Low
Minimum:  N/A
Median:  N/A
Maximum:  N/A
Minimum: $734
Median: $3,522
Maximum: $18,894
Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport9,750Moderate Growth705Moderate
Minimum: $10.70
Median: $18.00
Maximum: $33.69
Minimum: $2,289
Median: $19,980
Maximum: $58,961
DancersCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
Percent employed full-time17%61%
Percent self-employed26%30%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentDancersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Southern Regionxx12%$30,581
Northern Regionxx16%$33,660
Cape Bretonxx12%$32,974
Annapolis Valley22%x13%$32,958
Top 5 Industries of Employment% Employed
Educational Services87%
Other Industries13%
What are the workers like?
AgeDancersCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% Employed% Employed
Median Age2642
GenderDancersCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% Employed% Employed
EducationDancersCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school26.1%$3,4915.8%$2,298
High school26.1%$3,57122.5%$7,127
Trades certificate8.7%$1,6724.3%$13,575
College certificate or diplomaxx21.9%$20,158
University certificate or diplomaxx4.4%$20,801
Bachelor's degree13.0%$14,75128.7%$19,705
University advanced certificate or diplomaxx3.0%$18,274
Master's degreexx8.1%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryxx0.2%$11,741
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Dance Nova Scotia
1113 Marginal Road
Halifax, NS B3H 4P7
Tel: (902) 422-1749
Fax: (902) 422-0881
Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts
6199 Chebucto Road
Halifax, NS B3L 1K7
Tel: (902) 423-6995
Fax: (902) 423-6029
Halifax Dance
1505 Barrington Street, Suite G6
Halifax, NS B3J 3K5
Tel: (902) 422-2006
Fax: (902) 423-2057

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Dance - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any general program that prepares individuals to express ideas, feelings, and/or inner visions through the performance of one or more of the dance disciplines, including but not limited to ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic, and folk dance, and that focuses on the study and analysis of dance as a cultural phenomenon. These programs include courses in technique, choreography, Laban notation, dance history and criticism, and dance production.
There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.
Program Name:Fine/studio arts - General
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to generally function as creative artists in the visual and plastic media. These programs include courses in the traditional fine arts media (drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, CAD/CAM) and/or modern media (ceramics, textiles, intermedia, photography, digital images); theory of art; colour theory; composition and perspective; anatomy; the techniques and procedures for maintaining equipment and managing a studio; and art portfolio marketing.
See all institutions providing this program+
NSCAD University
5163 Duke Street
Halifax, NS B3J 3J6
(902) 444-9600
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.