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Choreographer Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for choreographers. Get the facts about education requirements, essential job skills and employment prospects to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is a Choreographer?

Choreographers are responsible for crafting dance routines for a variety of productions. A lot of choreographers start out as dancers themselves and then begin creating their own pieces. They create dance moves to a particular song and hold auditions to find the right dancers for the role. Choreographers also often help with other aspects of the production, such as budgeting, lighting or costume design. Some choreographers may specialize in a particular style of dance, but most choreographers stay up to date on new styles and techniques to incorporate into their work. Find out what to expect from a career in this field by taking a look at the following table:

Training and Education Required Training and experience as a dancer is common; postsecondary degree programs in dance are also available
Key Skills Leadership and interpersonal skills, creativity, athletic ability
Job Growth (2018-2028) -3%* decline
Median Salary (2018) $47,800*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Become A Choreographer?

Though specific guidelines don't exist, most choreographers are former professional dancers. A college degree or certification is not required to become a choreographer, although some dance schools offer courses and degree programs in choreography. After retiring from professional dancing, you may want to continue your dance training and choreograph performances in an educational setting. Some choreographers will begin a choreography career while still dancing professionally.

What Job Opportunities Will I Have?

As a choreographer, you may work in dance schools and studios, for television and film, at theme parks and in theater. You may also work in the public school system, in nightclubs or for sports teams, among other venues. Most major cities offer an array of work for choreographers, but opportunities will be available all over the country.

Although crafting steps and creating dance numbers is a choreographer's major role, you may be asked to perform other duties. You will typically audition dancers and run rehearsals in order to teach dance steps. Additional duties may include assisting with costume design, makeup and behind-the-scenes work. You will also coordinate rehearsals and other performance-related activities.

What Are the Job Prospects?

Employment opportunities depend on the skill and style of the choreographer. With so many options for possible work environments, it may seem there is a high demand for choreographers. The reality is only the most talented dancers-turned-choreographers enjoy lifelong careers.

Job security as a choreographer is uncertain and depends on ability, popularity and industry. As a choreographer, you should be prepared for dry spells as well as busy times regarding work. Typically, beginning choreographers keep a flexible day job that may include teaching dance or working in a dance environment.

How Much Could I Earn?

Salaries vary by job, location and skill set. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), choreographers earned a median annual wage of $47,800 in 2018. The top-paid 10% in the field earned $97,620 or more per year, while the bottom 10% earned $21,340 or less.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Musicians and singers are a couple of similar occupations that do not require any formal education. These artists create performances through music with instruments or singing vocals. They may specialize in a particular genre of music or play multiple instruments. Actors are also a related career, but typically undergo some college education. These performers portray characters to tell a story. They may perform in front of live audiences, like in theatre, or be recorded, such as for films.