How to Become a

Ballet Dancer

The complete career guide to be a Ballet Dancer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • 4.6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute

Ballet dancers work for ballet dance or performing arts companies and perform in famous ballets like The Nutcracker, Giselle, and Swan Lake. They spend many hours a day practicing and learning production choreography—both individually and with other dancers in their companies.

Recommended Schools

What is a Ballet Dancer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in ballet dancer roles:

  • Engage in ongoing and frequent practice in order to perfect their craft
  • Audition for open positions at ballet dance companies and for roles in upcoming performances
  • Learn production choreography and rehearse both individually and with other company dancers
  • Perform productions in front of live audiences

A Day in the Life

Ballet dancers look beautiful and perfect when performing on stage, and the perfection of the dance that the audience finds so compelling is the result of years of practice on the part of the ballet dancers that appear in productions. Ballet dancers spend most of their time practicing—both to perfect their craft and to learn the choreography for new performances they’re performing in. Some of that practice may occur in the studio, and some may occur at home.

When just starting out in their careers, ballet dancers must audition for open roles at ballet dance companies. Most major cities have ballet companies that provide performances for individuals in their community, and the goal of the ballet dancer is to secure a position with a company that has a large audience. After being hired by a ballet company, ballet dancers must continue to audition for roles for upcoming productions. Some get major roles, while others dance in the background of productions.

By the time they reach their late 30’s, many ballet dancers retire from performing and move on to teach classes in ballet. Retired ballet dancers may teach young students at studios owned by themselves or other dancers, or they may teach ballet at the college level. Additionally, some exceptional ballet dancers may also move on to work as choreographers for ballet companies, or they may take on administrative roles for their ballet companies.

Typical Work Schedule

For the most part, ballet dancers spend their days practicing and their evenings performing. They are often required to work nights and weekends during production season.

Typical Employers

Most ballet dancers work for ballet dance and performing arts companies. However, some may work as freelancers and may perform for a variety of companies throughout the year.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Ballet Dancer

Most ballet dancers begin their professional careers at the age of 18. No formal higher education is required to work as a ballet dancer, but most ballet dancers begin their training at a very young age. Training begins in small dance studios, and promising students and dedicated dancers move from basic ballet training into more advanced programs as they process through adolescence and high school. Many spend their summers in training programs offered by professional ballet companies.

However, aspiring ballet dancers who did not begin training at a young age still have options for securing careers as ballet dancers. Some pursue bachelor’s degrees in fine arts or theatrical programs to focus on their ballet dancer training. For many, having a formal degree can be useful later in life when ballet dancing is no longer practical as it enables them to secure positions as ballet teachers. While a degree isn’t a requirement for teaching young students, it likely will be for teaching at the college level.

For ballet dancers—as is the case for most artistic careers—talent can be a great substitute for formal education and training. However, even the most talented ballet dancers spend significant amounts of time practicing and perfecting their crafts in order to provide audiences with breathtaking performances.

Ballet Dancer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Ballet Dancer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Ballet Dancer's can make an average annual salary of ---, or $18 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make --- or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #815 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Ballet Dancer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Ballet Dancers

  • 0.5%   Doctorate
  • 4.3%   Masters
  • 17%   Bachelors
  • 10.6%   Associates
  • 29%   College
  • 26.7%   High School
  • 11.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Ballet Dancer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 600 jobs for a total of 13,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 4.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #456 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Ballet Dancers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 2,000 100 0%
Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) 1,700 --- ---
Other schools and instruction; private 900 200 0%

Want To Be a Ballet Dancer? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →