The television show "Dancing With The Stars" has helped to feed the burgeoning interest in ballroom dancing, a November 2009 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. But whereas some professional ballroom dancers do compete for large cash prizes in competitions, many earn the bulk of their income -- which can be far more modest -- by teaching the esteemed dance style to novices.
Salary and Qualifications
Professional dancers on "Dancing With The Stars" earn $5,000 per week for eight weeks, according to The Ballroom Dance Company; however, the average annual salary for these artistes was reported by the jobsite Simply Hired to be $30,000, as of 2013. The minimum educational requirements vary for ballroom dancers. Dancers with many years of training may only require a high school diploma, while those who become choreographers or university instructors usually need a bachelor's or master's degrees in dance. These university degrees provide ballroom dance instructors better credentials, attracting more students to their schools. Other essential qualifications for professional ballroom dancers are persistence, stamina, creativity, flexibility, and excellent balance, as well people skills that include communication, team-working and leadership skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, salaries for professional ballroom dancers varied considerably in only one U.S. region -- the South. In this region, they earned the highest salaries of $47,000 in Washington, D.C., and the lowest of $23,000 in Mississippi, according to Simply Hired. Those in the West made $24,000 and $34,000 in Montana and California, respectively. If you worked as a professional ballroom dancer in the Northeast, you earned the most in Massachusetts and the least in Maine -- $36,000 and $27,000, respectively. In the Midwest, your salary would be the highest in Minnesota and lowest in South Dakota at $32,000 and $23,000, respectively.
A professional ballroom dancer may earn more in certain industries. In 2012, dancers earned the highest hourly wage of $20.48 working for performing arts companies, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or $42,598 annually, based on 40-hour workweeks. Professional ballroom dancers may also earn more working for performing arts companies. These dancers also earn more in Massachusetts and New York because living costs are higher in those two states. For example, a ballroom dancer earning $30,000 in Cleveland, Ohio, would need to make $40,621 in Boston to enjoy the same standard of living, according to CNN Money's Cost of Living calculator. That same person would need to make $64,733 in New York City.
The BLS projects an 11 percent increase in jobs for dancers, including ballroom dancing professionals, between 2010 and 2020, which is statistically about average compared to the 14 percent rate for all occupations. Aspiring dancers in all dance styles will face stiff competition in the industry, reports the BLS, as pop culture is showing an increased overall interest in the field, with new opportunities arising in segments other than dance companies, including television, movies and casinos.