Performing arts and media

Career outlook for choreographer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland

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What's it like?

You would create dance routines to entertain people at live shows, events or for TV and films.

You could plan the whole performance from teaching the steps to the dancers to working with costume designers and directors to get the right look.

You could choreograph stage, TV or film performances, music videos, and even fashion shows or corporate events.

You would normally specialise in a particular style of dance such as:

  • Classical ballet
  • Modern dance
  • Jazz dance and musical theatre
  • Ballroom
  • Street dance, hip hop and break-dancing
  • Scottish country (ceilidh), Highland or Irish dancing
  • Non-western (such as Indian, African or belly-dancing)
  • Disability dance

You might create your own dance pieces, or interpret a director’s instructions.

You would:

  • Develop ideas and turn them into a finished performance
  • Plan movements to fit the music
  • Discuss ideas and plans with producers, costume designers, and musical and artistic directors
  • Choose music
  • Audition dancers
  • Teach and rehearse the dancers
  • Record the steps using a notation system, such as Labanotation or Benesh

You might also work a movement coach for actors.

If you are freelance, you’d need to promote and marketing yourself, find new work and deal with your own tax and accounts.

If you ran your own dance company you’d also audition dancers, hire staff and do administrative tasks, such as apply for funding.

Working conditions


Your working hours could vary greatly. Generally, you would work long daytime hours whilst teaching and rehearsing the dancers and you may also attend evening performances.


You may often work on more than one production at a time. You would mainly work in dance studios and rehearsal rooms, but also in theatres, film and TV studios, nightclubs, halls and holiday centres.


There may be a lot of travel, possibly including overseas.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Cooperating
  • Supporting
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Developing a plan
  • Self esteem
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role however many choreographers usually start off as dancers and many study dance at college or university.

You can enter some National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) through an audition but some courses also ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and o9ne to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires an audition and may require a relevant HND. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Expressive arts subjects such as dance, music and drama
  • Physical education

Helpful to have

Many dancers start at an early age and undertake graded examinations through dance classes.