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How to Become a Certified Dance Teacher in New York

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As a dance instructor in New York, you will be helping to usher in the next generation of aspiring dancers and performers. New York's rich dance culture attracts dancers and students alike from all over the world. In order to become a certified dance instructor, you must pass a New York State Certification Exam.

Dance Teacher Certificates

Many dancers who aspire to teach their craft are overqualified to instruct on dance steps, but may lack the certification necessary to become a properly licensed teacher. New York State offers dance certificates based on your career choice and educational background. The certifications include an Initial Certificate, Internship Certificate, Permanent Certificate, Professional Certificate, Supplementary Certificate, and Transitional B and C Certificates. You must complete all Approved Teacher Preparation Programs and the Individual Evaluation if the certificate you are seeking requires it. For example, you are required to complete all Approved Teacher Preparation Programs and the Individual Evaluation to receive an Initial Certificate. If you are seeking an Internship Certificate, you are required to complete the Approved Teaching Preparation Program and 50 percent of a New York State Graduate Program in dance.

Application Process

File an application for teacher certification with the New York State Education Department (NYSED). You can submit your application online. Go to the NYSED website and click on "Search Certificate Requirements" to identify specific requirements for the various dance teacher certificates. To find the certificate requirement for a Professional Certificate, select "Classroom Teacher" for area of interest, then select dance as your subject area, select all grade levels (K to 12), select dance as your title and choose Professional Certificate as your certificate type. To begin the application process, go to the "Apply for Certification" link and create an account using NYSED's TEACH System. New York State conducts a criminal background check that requires fingerprint clearance as part of the application process.

Teacher's Exams

New York State requires that you pass the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST), which is a general exam, and a Content Specialty Test (CST). The CST comprises five subareas: Dance Elements and Skills; Creating and Performing Dance; Anatomy, Health, and Dance in Everyday Life; Dance and Culture; and Responding to and Analyzing Dance. You can only take the exam CST for dance four times a year (October, February, June and July).


You can register by mail or online to take a New York State Teacher Certification Exam (NYSTCE) by creating an online account through a dedicated NYSTCE website. Once you create an account, you can log in to check for updates and check your test scores. The NYSTCE website provides preparation guidelines and practice exams (for a fee) online. Print these documents to help you prepare for the exam.

Taking the Exam

You can take the test either as a paper-based or computer-based exam at several testing sites throughout New York. There is no difference between the two versions of the exam. An admission ticket will be mailed to you if you registered by mail. You will receive your admission ticket by email if you registered online. If you are taking the paper-based exam, arrive a few minutes early to the testing facility. You will be marked absent if you show up later than the scheduled time printed on your ticket. Arrive 30 minutes early at the testing facility if you are taking the computer-based version of the exam, and no later than 15 minutes after your appointment time. There is no refund policy if you miss the exam.


Log into your account to check your test score. The NYSTCE exam results indicate whether you passed or failed your total score, the minimum passing score and your performance in each of the five subareas of the dance certification exam. Scores in the subareas can range from 100 to 300. For example, you passed if you score a 250 in Dance Elements and Skills and the minimum passing score is 240. Your test scores are available 30 days after taking the exam. NYSED receives your test score from NYSTCE automatically. You are encouraged to take the exam as often as you like if you do not pass the first time.