Performing arts and media

Career outlook for dancer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland

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What's it like?

You would use movement to interpret music, tell stories and express emotion. You’d dance for live audiences or in recorded performances for television, film or music videos.

You’d use your talent, rhythm and timing combined with years of training to give the best performance to entertain the audience.

In most cases you would follow a choreographer's steps, although you might also improvise movements.

You would usually specialise in one form of dance, such as:

  • Classical ballet
  • Contemporary dance
  • Modern stage dance, which includes jazz and tap, and could include singing and acting in musical theatre.
  • African or Asian dance
  • Street dance

Performing would only be a small part of your work. You’d need to rehearse, and attend dance classes to keep fit and maintain your skills.

You’d also need to prepare for, and go to, auditions. You’d spend time promoting yourself and finding the next job.

Working conditions


Hours can be long and irregular, with rehearsals and classes during the day and performances in the evening.


You might perform in venues including theatres, film or TV studios, nightclubs, hotels, halls and cruise ships. The work is physically very demanding, and you would need to practise and keep yourself fit even when not performing.


Travel around the UK and overseas is common and you may need to spend long periods away from home if touring.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Persevering
  • Resilience
  • Cooperating
  • Listening
  • Creative
  • Attention to detail
  • Self esteem
  • Taking initiative
  • Self awareness
  • Taking responsibility

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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.


An important part of the selection process is an audition. 

Many dancers study dance at college or university.

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

Entry to a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires an audition and relevant qualifications.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by some courses)
  • Maths 
  • Physical education

Helpful to have

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