How to Become an Aerial Instructor (Reach for the Clouds)

how to become an aerial instructor

If you’ve ever dreamed of soaring through the sky or wondered what it takes to become an aerial instructor, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll explore the EXACT steps you need to take to launch your career as an aerial instructor. We’ll talk about:

  • The skills you need.
  • The training that can help you get there.
  • How to land a job as an aerial instructor.

So, whether you’re a beginner in the aerial arts or a seasoned practitioner looking to advance, stay tuned.

We’re about to unravel the blueprint to become an aerial instructor.

Let’s get started!

Contents show

Steps to Become an Aerial Instructor


Step 1: Research the Profession

Before you make any decisions about becoming an aerial instructor, it’s essential to understand what the role involves.

Aerial instructors teach a variety of techniques and exercises using equipment like aerial silks, hoops, and trapeze.

They ensure safety standards are met, create choreography, and provide guidance and support to their students.

You should research the physical demands of the job as it requires a high level of fitness, strength, and flexibility.

Alongside, understand the working conditions – you might be working in a circus school, dance studio, fitness center, or opening your own aerial studio.

Investigate the different types of aerial arts to identify which you are most interested in.

These could include aerial silks, aerial hoop (Lyra), static trapeze, or aerial rope (corde lisse), among others.

Look into the necessary qualifications and training required to become an aerial instructor.

This often includes specific aerial arts training, first aid certification, and potentially teacher training or fitness instruction qualifications.

Researching the profession thoroughly will give you a realistic idea of what becoming an aerial instructor involves and will help you decide if it’s the right path for you.


Step 2: Gain Personal Experience in Aerial Arts

Before you can teach aerial arts, you need to have a deep understanding and personal experience in the discipline.

This can be achieved by enrolling in aerial arts classes such as aerial silk, hoop, trapeze, or pole dancing at a reputable studio.

Through these classes, you will learn the basics and advance your way through more complex sequences and moves.

Practicing regularly and mastering a range of aerial skills will provide you with valuable insights that you can later pass on to your students.

It’s also recommended to perform in front of a live audience, whether in a formal show or in informal gatherings.

This will help you develop confidence, understand stage dynamics and learn how to interact with an audience.

Remember that becoming proficient in aerial arts can take several years, and it’s important to be patient with yourself during this process.

The more experience you have, the better instructor you’ll become.

You can always continue learning even after becoming an instructor to keep improving your skills and knowledge.


Step 3: Obtain Formal Training and Certification

Becoming an aerial instructor requires both formal training and certification.

Enroll in a certified aerial instructor training program where you will learn essential safety procedures, teaching methods, and the art of aerial movements.

These programs often cover a variety of aerial arts including silks, lyra, trapeze, pole, and more.

As part of your training, you will not only become proficient in performing the various aerial acts, but also learn how to instruct others effectively.

Training programs also cover health and safety aspects, including how to rig equipment safely, how to spot and manage risks, and first aid procedures.

After completing the training, you must obtain certification.

This typically involves successfully completing a practical and written examination that tests your knowledge of aerial arts, safety protocols, and teaching techniques.

The certification is proof of your competency as an aerial instructor and is often required by aerial studios, gyms, or performance companies.

You can choose to become certified in a specific discipline, such as aerial silks, lyra, or pole fitness, or you can pursue a comprehensive aerial instructor certification that covers multiple disciplines.

Keep in mind that maintaining certification often requires ongoing education and training to stay updated with the latest safety protocols and teaching methods in the ever-evolving field of aerial arts.


Step 4: Develop a Specialization

As an aspiring aerial instructor, it’s important to pinpoint a particular area of aerial arts that you’re most passionate about and wish to specialize in.

The aerial arts include a variety of apparatuses such as silks, hoop (lyra), trapeze, hammock, pole, and others.

You might want to concentrate on one or two of these apparatuses to become an expert in.

Having a specialization allows you to deeply understand the techniques, safety measures, and teaching methods associated with a particular apparatus.

It not only enables you to provide more advanced training to your students but also to differentiate yourself in the competitive market of aerial instruction.

During your training, you will likely get exposure to different apparatuses.

Take this opportunity to explore each one, understand your comfort level, and gauge which apparatus you are most passionate about.

Remember, choosing a specialty is not about limiting yourself, but rather about enhancing your expertise and providing the best possible instruction to your students.


Step 5: Work on Physical Fitness and Flexibility

As an aspiring aerial instructor, maintaining a high level of physical fitness and flexibility is vital.

The job role requires strength, balance, and control, making regular physical conditioning and flexibility training necessary.

You should focus on developing upper body and core strength as these areas are most heavily relied upon when performing and teaching aerial exercises.

Engage in exercises like pull-ups, planks, push-ups, and yoga to improve these areas.

Flexibility is also key in becoming an aerial instructor.

Most aerial disciplines require a substantial range of motion, so you should regularly practice stretching exercises and incorporate yoga or pilates into your routine to enhance your flexibility.

It is also highly recommended to get professional advice on your fitness regimen from a personal trainer or physiotherapist.

They can provide personalized workouts that cater to your individual needs and prevent injury.

Remember, your students will look to you as an example, so maintaining your fitness level not only benefits you but also those you teach.


Step 6: Learn Safety Procedures and Emergency First Aid

As an Aerial Instructor, it is paramount that you are equipped with extensive knowledge on safety procedures and emergency first aid.

Your responsibility extends beyond teaching, as you must ensure the wellbeing and safety of your students at all times.

Firstly, you need to learn all the essential safety protocols related to each aerial discipline you teach.

This includes the proper use of equipment, understanding weight limitations, recognizing and preventing potential hazards, and knowing the correct procedures for spotting and assisting students.

Regular safety checks of the equipment and environment should become a habit.

Additionally, obtaining a certification in first aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is highly recommended, if not mandatory in some institutions.

This will enable you to respond effectively to any emergencies that may arise during training.

You can find certified first aid courses at your local Red Cross or other trusted health organizations.

Moreover, it’s crucial to instill in your students the importance of safety and encourage them to listen to their bodies to prevent injuries.

Never allow them to push beyond their limits as this can lead to serious accidents.

By mastering safety procedures and emergency first aid, you not only protect yourself and your students but also establish a foundation of trust, responsibility and professionalism, fundamental attributes for a successful aerial instructor.


Step 7: Gain Teaching Experience

As an aspiring aerial instructor, it is crucial that you gather as much teaching experience as possible.

Start by assisting seasoned instructors during their classes to understand the teaching methods and techniques they employ.

This hands-on experience will allow you to observe how to handle a class, manage diverse learners, correct movements, and ensure safety.

Once you gain confidence, you can begin teaching small groups or private classes.

This will provide you with a platform to create your teaching style and approach, and understand how to adapt based on students’ needs and abilities.

You could also volunteer to conduct workshops or camps to broaden your experience.

Additionally, it can be beneficial to teach different types of aerial arts such as trapeze, silks, hoops, or pole.

This will not only enhance your versatility but also increase your employability as you’d be capable of teaching a wide range of classes.

Remember, the more teaching experience you have, the better an instructor you become.

It is also a valuable asset when applying for jobs, as most employers prefer hiring instructors with substantial teaching experience.


Step 8: Network Within the Aerial Arts Community

As you progress in your career as an aerial instructor, it’s important to establish and maintain strong connections within the aerial arts community.

This can be accomplished by attending and participating in industry events, workshops, and conferences.

These are great opportunities to meet other professionals in the field, learn new techniques, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and safety regulations.

Networking can also provide avenues for mentorship and collaboration.

Connect with experienced instructors or performers who can provide guidance and support as you navigate your career.

It’s also beneficial to connect with peers who are at the same stage in their careers as you are; you can learn from each other’s experiences and grow together.

Consider joining professional organizations that cater to aerial arts, such as the Aerial Arts Association or the American Circus Educators Association.

These groups offer resources, educational opportunities, and community forums where you can engage with others in the field.

Remember that networking is a two-way street.

It’s not just about what you can gain from others, but also what you can offer.

Share your knowledge, skills, and experiences freely with your peers.

This will help strengthen your relationships and establish a positive reputation within the community.

Also, consider creating an online presence to expand your networking opportunities.

You can do this by setting up professional social media accounts, starting a blog or a website showcasing your skills and experiences.

This will not only allow you to connect with other aerialists around the world, but also attract potential students or employers.

By networking effectively, you can open the door to new opportunities, partnerships, and growth in your career as an aerial instructor.


Step 9: Create a Portfolio and Resume

As an aerial instructor, having a solid portfolio and resume is essential to showcase your talent, experience, and qualifications.

Your portfolio should include videos and photographs demonstrating your proficiency in different aerial arts, such as silks, hoops, trapeze, or pole.

These visual materials will allow potential employers or clients to see your skills and style in action.

In your resume, include all relevant work experience, highlighting roles where you’ve taught or performed aerial arts.

Include any workshops or special classes you’ve attended, as well as any certifications you hold.

Don’t forget to mention your understanding of safety protocols and your ability to provide clear instructions to students of varying skill levels.

If you have experience in choreographing aerial routines, consider including a section detailing this.

It could set you apart from other candidates and offer additional opportunities.

Additionally, it’s beneficial to include references or testimonials from previous clients or employers.

This could be a factor that helps potential employers make their final decision.

Always remember to update your portfolio and resume as you acquire more experience and skills.


Step 10: Apply for Positions or Start Your Own Classes

After you have obtained all the necessary certifications and gained some experience in aerial arts, it’s time to apply for positions as an aerial instructor.

You can look for job postings at local fitness centers, dance studios, circus schools, or even community recreation centers.

The application process typically involves submitting a resume or CV highlighting your training, certifications, and teaching experience, and you may also be asked to give a demonstration class.

If you prefer to have more control over your classes, you might consider starting your own.

Rent a studio space or set up a suitable area at your home, get the necessary equipment like silks, hoops, and trapeze, and start advertising your classes.

You can use social media, flyers, or word of mouth to attract students.

Remember to ensure that all safety measures are in place, and you have insurance coverage to protect yourself and your students.

In both scenarios, you need to demonstrate not only your aerial skills but also your ability to safely guide students of all ages and fitness levels.

Patience, excellent communication, and motivational skills are essential for this role.


Step 11: Continue Your Education and Stay Updated on Best Practices

As an aerial instructor, it’s essential to keep your knowledge and skills updated.

This field is constantly evolving with new techniques, safety measures, and best practices.

Therefore, continuously educating yourself and staying current with the industry is an ongoing part of the job.

One way to keep up to date is by attending aerial workshops, conventions, and industry-related events where you can learn from and connect with other professionals.

These experiences often offer a wealth of information and can introduce you to the latest trends and safety procedures.

In addition, you can further your education by taking advanced aerial courses or even earning a master’s degree in related fields like physical education, dance, or sports science.

These programs can deepen your understanding of body mechanics and movement, as well as teaching methodologies, which can significantly improve your instruction skills.

Furthermore, subscribe to industry magazines, join aerial teaching forums, and follow professional aerialist blogs or social media accounts.

These resources often share valuable tips, new moves, and advice that can enhance your teaching methods and class routines.

Lastly, consider obtaining additional certifications related to health and fitness like Pilates, Yoga, or Personal Training.

These can complement your aerial teaching and provide your students with a well-rounded fitness experience.

Remember, the more knowledgeable and skilled you are, the better the experience you can provide for your students.


Step 12: Market Your Classes and Build Clientele

Once you have completed your training, have mastered your skills and are ready to teach, the next essential step is to market your classes and build your clientele.

One of the most effective ways is through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, where you can showcase your skills, post class schedules, and host online sessions.

This not only gives potential students an idea of what they can expect but also helps in building a community and keeping existing students engaged.

Another way to build clientele is by word of mouth.

Encourage your existing students to bring friends to classes or offer a discounted or free class for referrals.

This not only increases your student base but also helps in maintaining a steady flow of new students.

Building partnerships with local fitness centers, yoga studios, or dance schools can be another effective marketing strategy.

You can offer to conduct workshops or regular classes at their premises.

This provides exposure to a new audience and gives an added value to the existing members of these establishments.

Remember, the key to effective marketing is consistency and quality.

Consistently posting and updating your class schedules, offering new and challenging routines, and ensuring the safety and satisfaction of your students can help in establishing yourself as a reliable and sought-after aerial instructor.


Aerial Instructor Roles and Responsibilities

Aerial Instructors are responsible for teaching and guiding students in aerial activities such as aerial silks, trapeze, aerial hoop, and other aerial circus disciplines.

They require a good understanding of aerial techniques, safety protocols, and teaching methods.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:



  • Teach students of various levels aerial arts including trapeze, aerial hoop, silks, and other disciplines.
  • Develop individualized training plans for students based on their skill level and goals.
  • Guide students through routines and performances.


Safety Management

  • Ensure all safety regulations are followed during classes and performances.
  • Inspect equipment regularly for any wear and tear or potential dangers.
  • Teach students how to use equipment safely and properly.


Performance Preparation

  • Prepare students for performances and showcases.
  • Choreograph routines for students and ensembles.
  • Provide feedback and constructive criticism to help students improve their technique and performance.


Student Assessment

  • Evaluate student progress and adapt teaching methods as needed.
  • Provide detailed and constructive feedback to students.


Physical Conditioning

  • Teach conditioning exercises to increase strength, flexibility, and endurance.
  • Ensure students are physically prepared for the demands of aerial work.


Equipment Maintenance

  • Maintain and ensure the cleanliness and good condition of all aerial equipment.
  • Report any equipment issues or potential hazards to management.



  • Communicate effectively with students, parents, and other staff members.
  • Address any concerns or questions related to the class or student progress.


Continuing Education

  • Stay updated with the latest aerial techniques and teaching methods.
  • Attend workshops, certifications, and other professional development opportunities.


Customer Service

  • Provide excellent customer service to students and parents.
  • Resolve any issues or concerns in a professional and timely manner.


Administrative Duties

  • Assist with registration, scheduling, and other administrative tasks as needed.


What Does an Aerial Instructor Do?

An Aerial Instructor, often found in circus schools, performing arts studios or fitness centers, is a professional who instructs students in aerial arts.

These arts can include disciplines such as aerial silk, aerial hoop (lyra), trapeze, aerial rope, and pole dancing.

They conduct classes and workshops for people of different age groups and skill levels, teaching them the techniques of aerial fitness and performance, which combines elements of both dance and acrobatics.

Aerial Instructors demonstrate and guide students through different movements and sequences, focusing on form, strength, flexibility, and safety.

They often assist students in improving their balance, coordination, and overall physical fitness.

They are also responsible for ensuring the equipment used is safe and secure, and they may be required to perform routine checks and maintenance.

In addition, they could also choreograph performances for shows or competitions.

They may offer private lessons for students who want to advance their skills or work on specific techniques.

Their job is not only about teaching physical moves, but also instilling confidence, overcoming fear, and encouraging creative expression in their students.

As such, they need to be patient, motivating, and have excellent communication skills.


Essential Aerial Instructor Skills

  • Physical Fitness: Aerial instructors need to be in great physical shape to demonstrate techniques, support students, and ensure safety during classes.
  • Communication: They should be able to clearly explain complex movements and techniques, provide constructive feedback, and communicate effectively with students of all ages and skill levels.
  • Knowledge of Aerial Arts: Instructors must be well-versed in various aerial disciplines, such as silks, hoop, trapeze, and hammock. They should have a deep understanding of the principles and techniques involved in each.
  • Safety Awareness: A critical aspect of the role involves ensuring the safety of students. This requires knowledge of safety protocols, equipment checks, and spotting techniques.
  • Patience: Learning aerial arts can be challenging for many students. Instructors must be patient, offering encouragement and adapting teaching methods to suit individual learning styles.
  • Problem-solving: An instructor should be able to identify problems students are having and devise effective solutions to help them overcome challenges.
  • First Aid and CPR: Aerial instructors should be trained in first aid and CPR in case of accidents or emergencies during classes.
  • Rigging Knowledge: Understanding how to set up and inspect aerial equipment is crucial for maintaining a safe training environment.
  • Teaching Skills: An ability to plan and deliver engaging lessons that cater to different skill levels is essential. Instructors should also be able to assess student progress and provide appropriate challenges.
  • Flexibility and Balance: Aerial arts require flexibility, balance, and body awareness. Instructors should have advanced skills in these areas to demonstrate and teach effectively.
  • Teamwork: Instructors often work as part of a team in a studio setting. Being able to collaborate effectively with fellow instructors and staff is crucial.
  • Customer Service: As they often interact with students and potential students, instructors should have excellent customer service skills, including being friendly, approachable, and helpful.
  • Leadership: Aerial instructors need to provide clear direction and inspire confidence in their students. Strong leadership skills help create a positive and productive learning environment.
  • Professionalism: Instructors should maintain a high level of professionalism, including respecting boundaries, maintaining privacy, and behaving ethically.
  • Passion for Aerial Arts: A love for aerial arts and a desire to share this passion with others can help instructors stay motivated and inspire their students.


Aerial Instructor Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Junior Aerial Instructor

The first step on your journey is usually as a Junior Aerial Instructor.

You start off as a beginner in this field, learning the basics of aerial acrobatics and teaching techniques.

You may assist senior instructors, help with classes, and gain experience in safety procedures.

Here’s what you need to focus on at this stage:

  1. Train Continuously: Practice your aerial skills regularly to improve your physical strength and flexibility.
  2. Seek Mentorship: Learn from experienced instructors and don’t hesitate to ask for advice or feedback.
  3. Teach Actively: Take an active role in assisting classes to build your teaching skills and learn how to manage students.


The Ascent: Aerial Instructor

Once you’ve gained enough experience and skills, you’ll progress to the role of an Aerial Instructor.

You’ll be responsible for conducting classes, designing routines, and ensuring the safety of students.

Here’s what can help you thrive at this stage:

  1. Enhance Teaching Skills: Develop your teaching style to effectively engage and inspire your students.
  2. Safety First: Prioritize the safety of your students by always checking equipment and teaching proper techniques.
  3. Creative Choreography: Create innovative and exciting routines to challenge your students and keep classes interesting.


Reaching New Heights: Senior Aerial Instructor

The next step is to become a Senior Aerial Instructor.

In this role, you’ll be recognized for your advanced skills and teaching abilities.

You may lead workshops, mentor new instructors, and have a significant impact on the curriculum.

To succeed as a Senior Aerial Instructor:

  1. Mentorship: Share your experience and knowledge with junior instructors to help them develop their skills.
  2. Advanced Techniques: Continuously learn and perfect advanced aerial moves to stay ahead and provide quality instruction.
  3. Leadership: Show leadership by taking responsibility for the growth and success of your students and classes.


Beyond the Horizon: Master Aerial Instructor and Beyond

As you continue to develop your skills and gain recognition in the field, you may progress to roles such as Master Aerial Instructor, Studio Manager, or even open your own aerial arts studio.

These roles involve greater responsibilities, including managing staff, developing programs, and potentially running a business.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Business Skills: If you aspire to manage or own a studio, develop your business and management skills.
  2. Community Building: Cultivate a strong and supportive community among your students and staff.
  3. Innovation: Stay updated with the latest trends in aerial arts and incorporate them into your classes and programs.


Pinnacle of Success: Aerial Arts Director or Studio Owner

At the top of the aerial instructor career ladder, you may find yourself as an Aerial Arts Director or Studio Owner.

Here, you will be responsible for the overall vision and direction of your aerial arts program or studio, making crucial decisions and shaping the future of your business.


Aerial Instructor Salary

Entry-Level Aerial Instructor

  • Median Salary: $30,000 – $40,000 per year
  • Entry-level aerial instructors typically have 0-2 years of experience and may hold certifications in aerial arts or related fields. They are usually responsible for teaching basic moves and safety techniques.


Mid-Level Aerial Instructor

  • Median Salary: $40,000 – $50,000 per year
  • Mid-level instructors have 2-5 years of experience and often take on more complex classes, choreographing routines, and may offer private lessons.


Senior Aerial Instructor

  • Median Salary: $50,000 – $70,000 per year
  • Senior instructors possess 5+ years of experience and are responsible for leading advanced classes, mentoring junior instructors, and contributing to the development of training programs.


Lead Aerial Instructor / Aerial Program Manager

  • Median Salary: $70,000 – $90,000+ per year
  • These roles come with significant experience and involve leadership in the aerial program, decision-making about class offerings, and managing a team of instructors.


Studio Owner / Director of Aerial Instruction

  • Median Salary: $80,000 – $150,000+ per year
  • These high-level positions require extensive experience, business acumen, and deep knowledge of aerial arts. They often involve setting the vision and strategy for the entire aerial program or studio.


Aerial Instructor Work Environment

Aerial Instructors typically work in fitness studios, dance schools, or circus training facilities, where they teach students various aerial skills using equipment like ropes, hoops, and silks.

The job often requires physical stamina, as instructors not only demonstrate aerial maneuvers, but also spot and support students as they learn.

Aerial Instructors usually have flexible working hours as they often work on a class schedule basis, and they might also provide private lessons.

The working environment is often energetic and requires a high level of physical fitness, safety consciousness and patience in teaching students of all abilities and ages.

After gaining significant experience and building a good reputation, an Aerial Instructor may choose to open their own aerial fitness or circus arts studio.


FAQs About Becoming an Aerial Instructor

What is needed to become an aerial instructor?

To become an aerial instructor, you need a good foundation in fitness and a mastery of aerial arts, including aerial silks, hoops, and trapeze.

This can be achieved through taking classes, workshops, and spending numerous hours practicing.

It’s also essential to have a solid understanding of safety procedures for aerial arts.

Most employers require a certification from a recognized aerial fitness organization.

Good communication skills, patience, and the ability to motivate and guide students are also important in this role.


How long does it take to be an aerial instructor?

The time it takes to become an aerial instructor can vary greatly depending on your current skill level and the amount of time you dedicate to training.

Typically, it may take several years of regular practice to master the skills required to teach aerial arts.

Once you’ve gained proficiency, you can undertake a certification program, which can last anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the program.


Can I be an aerial instructor without a certification?

While it’s technically possible to teach without a certification, it’s highly recommended to get certified.

This not only boosts your credibility and increases your employment opportunities, but also ensures that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to teach safely.

It’s important to note that aerial arts involve substantial physical risks, so understanding proper techniques and safety protocols is crucial.


Is being an aerial instructor a physically demanding job?

Yes, being an aerial instructor is physically demanding.

It requires strength, flexibility, and endurance as you’ll be demonstrating moves, lifting equipment, and potentially spotting students.

It’s important to maintain a high level of physical fitness and to take care of your body to prevent injuries.


What are the prospects for aerial instructors in the next decade?

The prospects for aerial instructors in the next decade are positive.

Interest in aerial arts as a form of fitness and self-expression has been steadily growing.

As more people become aware of and interested in these activities, the demand for qualified instructors is expected to rise.

Opportunities may exist in fitness centers, dance studios, circus schools, and performing arts camps.

Additionally, there are opportunities to perform professionally or start your own aerial arts studio.



And there you have it.

Launching into the journey to become an aerial instructor is no easy task, but the rewards are truly sky-high.

Equipped with the right skills, training, and perseverance, you’re well on your way to leaving your mark high above the ground.

Remember, the path may be rigorous, but the possibilities are boundless. Your innovations could soar to the next level, transforming the way we experience fitness, art, and entertainment.

So, take that first leap. Immerse yourself in training. Connect with professionals. And most importantly, never stop flying.

Because the sky is waiting for what you can achieve.

And if you’re looking for personalized guidance on starting or advancing your career as an aerial instructor, don’t miss our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is designed to provide tailored advice and resources to help you navigate your career path effectively.

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