It doesn’t matter if you are an aspiring professional dancer, a part-time teacher, a full-time dance teacher, or perform occasional gigging. Unless you have a contract with a high arts dance company or have an established rapport with a cruise line or similar situation, you need money to support your life while you work on the dream of the dancer. There are many things to consider when seeking other employment in between auditions, interviews, and self promotion. I’ve compiled a list of career and employment opportunities that you can do anywhere in the US and possibly abroad.
Dancers seeking professional status live a transient life. That means you never know where the next opportunity will take you. You may not be able to obtain employment from companies expecting a 6 month – 2 year commitment or in a specified area in which you are expected to live in your current city semi-permanently or permanently depending on your goals. These supplemental jobs could provide the answer to a struggling artist’s financial woes.
- Pet Sitter
- Wait Staff
- Temp at a temp agency
- Uber or Lyft driver
- Party Motivator/Gigging
Let’s start with pet sitting. First off, you must love animals. Having no preference in the type of pet you sit regarding type (all animals like dogs, cats, small caged animals, sometimes even farm animals like chickens), breed, size, or temperament will help you garner more work. Start off by looking at your local pet sitting companies. Many small businesses often need employees on a regular basis. They are competing with national groups such as Rover. In order to stay alive in the pet care industry, they need employees to accommodate a wide range of available client schedules.
The pros include being able to work with animals (assuming you love animals), setting your own schedule which leaves lots of time for taking classes, setting up auditions, and working on branding yourself, and most professional pet sitting companies include their own insurance. The cons include having to schedule an alternative sitter for you if you have acquired a last-minute gig or audition. Working as a pet sitter, you are responsible for a living creature. So if you can’t balance out working as a pet sitter after your given availability or give notice at least a few days in advance, this might not be a good fit for you. Alternatively, you can work for a national pet sitting company and take pet sits as they come up and you are free in your schedule to take them. I recommend going with a local pet sitting company first. You will be provided with training that can help you in the long run or give you the tools you need for thinking on your feet with an unknown pet.
I believe everyone should work at a restaurant at one point in their life. Why? Because being a waitress or waiter is cash now when you need it. Don’t get caught up in the actual salary that most wait staff are given. It may seem very low but servers are often paid in tips. How much in gratuity you earn depends on the service you provide. Nowadays, it’s customary for people to tip averagely 20% or more on their restaurant bills. The minimal you should ever receive is 10-15%. You will always deal with cheap tippers. Unfortunately, no matter what, you must give the same service to everyone regardless of your anticipated tip at the end of the meal.
If you’ve never waited tables before, you may be asked to start off as a host or hostess. This will give you restaurant industry experience and when you are ready, your manager at the restaurant can transfer you to wait staff. You will have to talk to complete strangers and show a friendly smile no matter how hard a day you’ve been having. Long hours might be hard on your feet but you can walk away with $50 – $100 plus a night. This all depends on the popularity of the restaurant and the day of the week/the time of your shift. Working evenings and weekends will pay off the most. However, those times might be the better times for auditions and classes. Lunch shifts can be fruitful as well. Again that all depends on how busy the restaurant gets. If you haven’t made a lot of money after the second week, try applying to another restaurant that is more high end.
Temp at a Temp Agency
If you’ve ever had any type of administration experience, this could be a great alternative to waiting tables. First, assemble your resume. Reach out to past employers and see if they are willing to write a letter of recommendation or be a referral for you. Next, look up different temp agencies in your area that specialize in the type of work you wouldn’t mind doing when not dancing.
Working for a temp agency provides you with a non-obligatory source of income while you work on landing the next gig or contract. Another pro is if for any reason you decide not to pursue dance competitively anymore, you may have the opportunity to work full-time at your current assignment or obtain a desk job more readily than if you didn’t have any office experience at all.
Uber or Lyft Driver
There are many freelance type of jobs similar to Uber and Lyft. So if you don’t have a car, you may still be able to work similarly. In the fact that Uber and Lyft require you download their app and as people send requests for a job, you have the flexibility to decide if you want to accept it or not. This is one of the most flexible jobs out there. For Uber and Lyft, you must have a reliable, clean car. Uber and Lyft drivers tend to make the most money in high density areas like the city or metropolitan suburban areas.
Also, check out Amazon for local opportunities. More and more companies are outsourcing their delivery jobs to individual folks with a car. For all of these jobs, you will have an initial orientation so you need how to book jobs if your application is accepted. Again, for Amazon, you also need to have access to your own vehicle.
This is the most costly second career or supplemental job you could obtain. Again, the pro would include a second career if you decide not to pursue dance full-time. The con includes a lot of dedication. But the biggest pro is that you can be a realtor anywhere. People are always selling their homes or needing to buy a home. If you live in a more remote area, you will have less competition than say an area like Northern Virginia where the neighborhoods are saturated with realtors.
Realty licensing is state to state. That means if you move to a different state, you will have to become licensed there as well. This career choice is more favorable for long stays in your current state. If you have a year to two-year contract, you may want to consider realty. You can study online for your realty exam or attend a weekly class. Online study may be more flexible, but remember you will be tested for your national and state exam at the end of the course. Not everyone can retain information best doing online study.
Becoming a realtor that is able to close transactions can provide large payoffs that will last several months at a time depending on how many properties you can help sell or buy. You work off of commission. After passing the realty exam, you should reach out to a broker to work with. There are many costs associated with licensing. Before embarking on this journey make sure you have money saved up in the bank for lulls and for fees. This career option is great for dancers looking for a substantial financial career and who are good with wearing many hats. The most important quality a dancer can have as a realtor is being communicable and establishing relationships. This is a relationship based career.
What better way to utilize your dance training than to become a “party motivator” or just do gigging. Sometimes people want dancers at their bar mitzvah, birthday, wedding, or other special occasion. You can either employ yourself with an established agency that books assignments regularly or register for any gigging type of vendor that funnels these types of gigs. Build a portfolio with the type of dance that you offer. Decide if you are going to be the main attraction or are the clients? Meaning, will you be the primary dancer or will your presentation be a mini-class? You can also combine both performance and teaching. Keep the teaching basic, fun, and simple. Audience engagement is key as a party motivator or if you gig a different way.
A party motivator usually helps lead line dances like the Cupid Shuffle and other pop culture songs. Be in tune with the trends of the day. You must be outgoing and presentable at each gig.
I hope these options help when the going gets tough. Sometimes, people get lucky and meet the right people with the right opportunities and it’s smooth sailing from there. But what I have learned from life is that to achieve a goal you must work hard and put in the devotion. And above all, you must be able to support yourself. That is the basic of life.