The pole fitness industry is currently in full swing, and the demand for pole fitness instructors is on the rise. More pole fitness studios are opening up every week, and the average salary for a pole dance instructor is a whopping $52,041, according to Paysa.
So, how to become a pole fitness instructor? To become a pole fitness instructor, you have to obtain certification as a pole fitness instructor. Once you’re certified, you’ll be eligible to work as a full-time pole fitness instructor at a studio. However, you will have to audition at studios before you can land a job as a pole fitness instructor.
NOTE: After you get your pole fitness certification, you will need to look for jobs in the pole fitness industry. I have written a step-by-step guide on how to find yoga teaching jobs. The tactics, strategy, and steps outlined apply to pole fitness instructors as well.
Certified pole instructors have an easy path to a well-paying job at a pole fitness studio. If you’re an aspiring pole fitness instructor, this guide will give you all the information you need to get certified as a pole fitness instructor and find gainful employment.
How to Become a Pole Fitness Instructor
In this section, I will explore how you can become a pole fitness instructor. I will examine the certifications you need to take and how best you can prepare for your auditions for pole fitness jobs.
NOTE: At some point in your journey, you will begin to explore the idea of starting your own pole fitness studio. I have written an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to start a pole fitness studio. Bookmark the article and return to it when you are considering starting your own pole studio.
Become A Pole Fitness Instructor Step #1) Prepare For Certification
The first step to becoming a pole fitness instructor is to prepare your finances for certification and research the different course levels you can take. Most courses offer three levels for future pole fitness instructors: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
You can take courses online where you showcase your progress by recording yourself and consulting with online teachers. Alternatively, you can take the courses in person at a pole studio or training center. On average, a course will cost you at least $500-1000 per course.
Prepare to spend $2000-3000 in total to receive certification for a certified pole fitness instructor. If you want to obtain the highest level of certification, you’ll have to sign up for a “Master” course, which guides you through months of learning and might run up to $5000.
Note: Some courses combine all “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” & “Advanced” material in one course. These courses tend to be costly and happen over weeks/months in a retreat-style model.
This model involves immersing yourself in learning pole fitness and usually happens in an exotic location. Look through the different schools mentioned below. Prepare to fly out to receive training.
- Average Price: $500-1000
Each new pole fitness instructor will have to start with a beginner certification course before they can attend advanced courses. You’ll have to prove you’ve passed this course if you want to sign up for intermediate or advanced courses – there is no skipping.
If you complete a beginner course, you’ll be eligible to teach beginner pole dance students. Beginner courses cover the foundational material about teaching pole fitness. The material might delve into basic spins, transitions, pole climbs, holds, floor work, and similar.
If you have no experience practicing pole fitness yourself, signing up for a beginner course will give you the foundational knowledge necessary to understand the body-mind connection and safety precautions to avoid injury.
Beginner courses will also show you the science of pole movement. It includes things such as basic anatomy, stability exercises, mobility exercises, and music counting.
Beginner course will include the basics of teaching, such as leading pole classes with warm-ups, choreography, cool-downs, and handling emergencies.
- Average Price: $500-1000
Intermediate courses expand further on the foundational knowledge taught in the beginner course. You should take them once you’ve practiced pole for a few months, and you want to advance your understanding.
Intermediate courses will also teach you the material you need to teach intermediate classes. Intermediate courses will cover material such as advanced inversions, fast ascents/descents, and hard holds.
These courses tend to be theory-based as they delve into the science behind pole fitness, and many of them cover basic lessons in physics. They teach instructors about the physics in static poles, one-arm spinning, reverse pole grabs, and combined spins.
At this level, you will also learn how to assess your students. You will learn how to progress them through levels to advanced classes. Depending on the course, there might be additional material for teaching sports training and gymnastics.
- Average Price: $500-1000
Advanced courses are the final level in certification for pole fitness instructors, and they immediately make you eligible to teach at any pole studio in the country. If you pass an advanced course, you can confidently apply for jobs at your desired pole fitness studios.
Passing an advanced course proves you have the knowledge necessary to teach students at all experience levels, and you’re capable of guiding them in pole fitness safely.
Usually, advanced courses build on the knowledge presented in the basic & intermediate courses and focus on the hardest material.
In the advanced course, you learn how to dismount poles using aerial handstands, aerial inversions, and shoulder mounts. You also learn combinations to mix these for an impressive display at the pole.
Become A Pole Fitness Instructor Step #2) Sign Up For Pole Instructor Training
The second step is to do your research and select a school that can certify you.
There are no central organizations that certify pole instructor schools (for example, the way Yoga Alliance does for yoga schools), so you’ll have to pick a school based on which one resonates with you and how much you’re willing to spend.
Most courses are available online that can certify you without ever leaving your home. You’ll only have to present demonstrations as a form of testing.
You also have the option to fly out to a different city/country and attend a certification course for a few days or a few weeks. You might have to travel to attend one of the schools listed below.
- Course Cost: $650
XPERT Pole & Aerial Fitness is the premier aerial fitness school in the US and the largest educational training program for pole fitness instructors online. XPERT’s pole fitness course is a small part of their large assortment of courses, as they offer a range of other certification courses in-person and online.
Crunch, a large fitness chain based in the US, owns XPERT school. XPERT’s courses provide a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses for aspiring pole fitness instructors.
Their certifications are recognized worldwide, and they have accreditation from top fitness organizations such as ACE, AFFA, Active IQ, Fitness Australia, and more.
XPERT’s pole teacher training has accreditation from the “Pole Safe Federation” and the PDC. It means you’ll be able to land a job in any pole studio with their certificates.
XPERT has won many awards for its teacher programs and trained thousands of skilled instructors worldwide. XPERT stands out by offering its courses to a worldwide clientele, and their courses are available in German, French, Spanish and Chinese.
- Course Cost: $400
PoleandAerial is one of the most established online schools for pole instructors. Their sole specialty is pole teacher training, and they provide comprehensive step-by-step guides for beginner teachers to become certified.
Established instructors in the pole industry teach PoleandAerial’s courses. Future instructors can consume these courses from the comfort of their own homes and on mobile devices.
Students have access to the PoleandAerial forum community, studio locator, and community events. Their courses are relatively affordable, and beginner teachers can gain access immediately because the courses are online.
- Course Cost: $900
ElevatED provides premium teacher training for pole instructors. Their basic training courses are carried out over three days and contain over 20 hours of direct training for instructors, technique demonstrations, instruction materials, and lectures.
ElevatED pole courses hone leadership skills and knowledge. ElevatED stands out from other courses because it approaches pole fitness training with a more intellectual angle, teaching future instructors about the science behind the movements.
Their courses also feature information about honing your teaching skills to become a smarter, more capable, and safe teacher. The theory presented in the course needs demonstration, and teachers are judged based on their performance. You might have to fly out to a different city to attend an ElevatED course.
- Course Cost: $500
PolePeople is an internationally recognizable pole community, and they offer training courses for pole instructors. Their first pole instructor program was opened 13 years ago and successfully graduated thousands of pole instructors.
PolePeople is a UK-based brand, and you’ll have to visit the UK to attend one of their courses. PolePeople has courses for instructors of all levels, and they can provide the knowledge you need to become a certified pole teacher.
PolePeople’s main guide is the “Beginner Pole Guide,” which teaches future instructors the basics of pole fitness over an intensive two day period.
In these two days, future instructors learn about the basics of teaching students, and once they graduate, they can move on to intermediate classes. Their courses are affordable and recognized worldwide.
Become A Pole Fitness Instructor Step #3) Audition At Pole Fitness Studios
Congratulations – you’re now a certified pole fitness instructor! You now need to start applying for jobs to find employment.
The pole fitness industry is very ‘niche’ which means unless you’re ready to start your own studio, be prepared to move to a city with job openings.
While pole fitness instructors are in demand, the fact that there are only a few studios in each city means that unless they have a job opening, you might have to apply for a job in a different city.
Here’s what you need to do to get hired as a pole fitness instructor:
Circulate Your CV
Start by formulating your CV. The CV has to state your history in dance/fitness, and it has to include your accreditation specifics. Make sure to point out your strengths and choose a template that professionally represents you.
Present all the key information about yourself, such as your name, contact #, experience, school, accreditation, goals, and social media/video links where they can see samples of your work.
You’ll need to provide proof you can teach pole fitness, and what better way than to showcase your videos to potential employers?
Start sending your CVs to studios all over the country, especially in large cities. Visit a studio website and go to the “Jobs/Opportunities/Join Us” section.
There you can apply for jobs at each pole fitness studio. If the studio doesn’t have such a page, you can email them your CV directly via the contact form. Apply to studios all over the country, and you’ll start getting interview offers within the week.
Visit Pole Fitness Studios
To officially start your job hunt, you should visit all local studios in your area and ask if they have job openings. Most pole studio owners are sole owners/teachers themselves. You can be upfront if you are in job hunting mode.
If the studio is looking for teachers, they’ll kindly ask you to audition, and you’ll have the chance to show off your skills in front of a group of students. The key here is to get in touch with the owner of the studio personally.
The owner is the only person who can tell you if they need help or not. If you have a few studios in your area, try to find the owner on social media and reach out to them personally.
If that fails, you can always visit their studio and sign up for a private class, which will allow you to introduce yourself to the owner.
Pass The Audition
Once you’ve sent out dozens of CVs and applied for jobs at studios personally, the final step is to prepare for the audition. Pole studios don’t hire instructors outright – they ask them to audition in front of a group of teachers or students.
To get the job, you’ll have to teach a class to their students while the business owner evaluates your teaching ability. If they’re satisfied with your performance, they will hire you as a full-time instructor at the studio.
The audition takes 1-2 hours on average, depending on the length of the classes. Most instructors are assigned a beginner class.
Take the time to prepare for your audition because it’s not guaranteed you’ll get the job. Practice in the mirror and teach a class to your friends as a form of practice.
Become A Pole Fitness Instructor Step #4) Start Teaching Pole Classes Professionally
Once you get hired as an instructor, you’ll have to teach 2-3 group classes per day and a few private one-on-one classes. Pole fitness classes are not large, like yoga classes, where you have 40-50 students at a time. Most pole classes only have 3-10 students on average.
You’ll personally have to pay attention to each student, and you can develop close personal relationships. To become the best instructor you can, you’ll need to come prepared and warm-up your students to prepare them for the class.
Prepare For Class
Spend 1 hour every evening preparing your class. Practice new moves, plan warm-up exercises, discover music/playlists, and writing down notes. You want to know what you’ll teach students before you walk into the studio.
Many teachers make the mistake of randomly calibrating their classes. Doing so is only possible if you’ve had years of experience, and you find inspiration in the moment.
If you come prepared, you’ll be doing yourself a favor because you’ll feel a lot more energized. Going unprepared is akin to doing a college test without studying. The students are relying on you to help them progress with each class – make sure you deliver.
The most effective way to ensure the success of your class is to do warm-up exercises. Instead of delving into the routines outright, start by spending 5-10 minutes doing warm-ups. Students want to warm-up in a different manner every time, so make sure to switch-up your warm-up exercises for each class.
Warm-ups set the tone for the rest of the class and ensure the safety of your students. Instead of doing basic stretching exercises, try to figure out active movements and motion-based stretching techniques that target specific muscle groups.
The minute your students enter the room, they feel a lot more self-conscious than you do as an instructor. For a beginner student, it takes a lot of time to gain the confidence to perform on the pole.
Do small things for students, such as remembering their name, complimenting them, and smiling. You want to make them feel like they belong in the studio and that they’re a part of your studio community.
Turn Up The Music
Many instructors underestimate the effects of music in the studio. If you focus too much on the theory, you might forget that the pole studio has to have a certain “vibe” that motivates students to do better – music drives that vibe.
Crank up the music to set the vibe of the room because this will boost their motivation.
Pro Tip: Switch up the playlist and discover new music because students might get tired of listening to the same music over and over.
NOTE: In a pole fitness studio, you have to be mindful of the music you play and be aware of music licensing laws for dance studios.
Learn To use Pole Fitness Software
All fitness and dance studios use class management software to sell classes, manage schedules, and manage their members.
As a pole fitness instructor, you will use pole fitness software to provide your availability and track your hours worked. Get familiar with member management software such as StudioGrowth. Knowing how to use a studio management software will set you miles apart from the other pole fitness instructors.
Pole fitness instructors earn an average salary of $52,000 a year. According to data at PaySa, the salary fluctuates between $49,000 and $54,000 for most instructors, while the top 10% of instructors earn well over $56,000.
The earning potential of pole fitness instructors depends on the location of the pole fitness studio and the number of classes. In major cities, the salary could be double that of small towns.
Example: Instructors who get paid $30 per class in Spokane, WA, might get $60/class in San Francisco, CA. To increase your earning potential, you should move to a city with higher salaries.
- Beginner instructors earn 40-50% less than established instructors with 1-2 years of experience. If you’re starting out, expect low pay until you have sufficient experience. If a studio pays experienced instructors $30 per class, you might only get $15-20 starting out.
- Pole fitness instructors with experience of 2-3 years command high wages since they influence their local community. This influence allows them to increase their income by teaching private classes. If a teacher has taught pole fitness for a few years, they may have hundreds of potential clients. After a few years of teaching at studios, many instructors open their own pole studios.
- Teachers earn more money for studio parties and private classes. Private classes for pole dance can cost $100-150/hour, and the teacher usually gets 50% of the private class income (depending on the studio). Teachers can earn $500-1000 each week by hosting only a few groups & private classes each day.
Pros Of Becoming A Pole Fitness Instructor
✔ Job Opportunities
Pole fitness took off recently, and around 2015 we started seeing a surge in pole fitness studios globally.
The pole fitness industry is still very young, and new studios are looking for instructors who are hard to find because there are few certified instructors. Most dance instructors stick to a music niche, and they find jobs in dance studios and schools.
For pole dance, you’re learning a new skill that applies to a niche branch of dance – and it’s combined with fitness. This specialization allows you to make even more money than the average fitness instructor.
Also, you are helping students improve their fitness. You’ll find job openings in every major city, and once you’re certified, you’ll make way above the average US salary.
Typically, pole fitness studios hire from their teacher training programs, so teaching at a top pole fitness studio involves first attending the studio as a student.
✔ Easy To Build A Community
A side-effect of being a pole fitness instructor is that you can become famous on the internet or semi-famous in your local community.
Pole instructors tend to be popular on social media easily because they’re sharing entertainment, and they get a lot of attention.
You can establish a strong following on Instagram and Youtube if you post pole fitness content.
Doing so has the key advantage that after a few years, you can leverage this following to start your own pole fitness studio. Many of the top influencers on social media are pole fitness instructors or students of pole dance.
✔ It’s Fun
Pole fitness is fun – you not only get benefits such as a fit body from daily exercise, but you’ll also have a blast with your students. Pole studios often host parties, competitions, giveaways, shows, etc.
Each week in your life is going to be different, and you’ll teach dozens of positive students who are eager to learn and passionate about pole fitness.
Cons Of Becoming A Pole Fitness Instructor
✖ Certification Costs
The first steps to becoming a pole fitness instructor are expensive. You will typically begin your journey by joining a pole fitness studio as a student.
After months and years of training, you will be eligible for their teacher training programs and certifications. These pieces of training and certifications are expensive. So the process of becoming a pole fitness instructor has a significant barrier to entry.
To become a pole fitness instructor, you’ll have to pass certification exams. This process is akin to getting any other diploma because you’ll need to show a certificate if you’re going to teach at any major studio.
The certification courses can range from as low as $300-500 for a short course up to $5000 for a full master course.
To get certified, expect to pay at least $2000-3000 on average. This certification will cover pole fitness techniques for beginners and intermediates while also teaching you about student safety and preparing you to be a teacher.
✖ Lower Earnings For Beginner Pole Fitness Instructors
The pole fitness industry is not very kind to new instructors because it values established instructors who have a following. If you’re starting out, you’re going to make less money than the average fitness/dance instructor.
Instructors who have been with a certain studio for a while will have a following of students who buy out their classes, while new instructors have to show they’re worthy and build up that follower base gradually.
The only way to bypass this is to build a following on social media before you start job-seeking or start your own pole fitness studio. Get used to making less than the average pole fitness instructor for at least 1-2 years.
✖ It’s Not Just About Teaching Dance
Pole fitness is not easy to teach daily, despite being very fun. The material can get repetitive unless you diversify your classes by inventing new dance sequences and routines which you practice during class.
You’ll always have to show up earlier for class, prepare the material, create new playlists, help individual students, and do administrative tasks, which could include cleaning the studio.
If you believe that as a pole fitness instructor, you only have to teach, you are mistaken. If you are not interested in the general operations of the pole fitness studio, then you will have a tough time lasting as a pole fitness instructor.
It’s a tasking job. If you’re working out of a small studio, the owner might expect you even to sing up new students and invoice them. If pole fitness teaching is not your main job, you’re going to have a hard time balancing it out.
✖ Risk Of Injury
Pole dance is a serious business, and the dance sequences center around a giant metal bar, which means it carries significant risk. Skin burns, sprains, and even fractures do happen in the studio. As a teacher, you know that a single injury could render you incapable of ever practicing dance again.
For students, this is not a problem because they don’t derive their income from teaching dance. However, for teachers, one muscle strain could cause them to lose their entire livelihood.
You’ll have to learn to apply safety precautions during classes, not just for the students but also for your protection. Dance teachers are highly prone to injuries, and you’ll have to put in an effort not to injure yourself.
✖ Repetitive Work
If you decide to become a pole fitness instructor after attending a pole fitness class, you will be in for a surprise.
Pole fitness classes are challenging and constantly push your boundaries. However, once you take the step to become a pole fitness instructor, you will be primarily teaching students of a specific skill level.
Continually teaching one specific skill level can get repetitive. These repetitive sessions are very different from the challenging sessions you enjoyed as a student.
Unless you have an aptitude for teaching and imparting knowledge and skill, you will find that teaching pole fitness can be a repetitive job.
Becoming a pole fitness instructor is a lucrative career choice. While there aren’t as many pole dancing studios as fitness studios, this niche fitness industry is on the rise.
If you’ve got the physical skills, gaining employment as a pole fitness instructor is relatively simple.
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About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set-up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently resides in London, U.K.