A professional ballerina may have a glamorous-looking career, but getting there is a difficult journey that usually starts in childhood. Ballerinas must be dedicated and must have the athletic and psychological stamina to stick with their career through adolescence and into adulthood. The competition to become a ballerina can be very tough; like other professional athletes, many try for positions that only a few can get.

Age

A ballerina who starts training at a very young age, between 5 and 8 years, has a distinct advantage over ballerinas who don't start training until they are older. This is because the most intense training starts in their teen years and professional dancers usually start their careers by the time they are 18.

Training

A college education is not needed to be a ballerina. Ballerinas with professional ambitions should start taking classes at a local school at a young age and transition into a nationally known ballet academy by their teens. You can find this schools on SeeDance.com, By training with a right ballet academy, a student greatly increases her/his chances of being a professional ballerina/ballet dancer. Getting accepted into one of these ballet companies requires an audition and tuition can be expensive, ranging from $4,000 to $12,000 a year at some schools.

Physical Demands

Ballerinas must be in top shape physically in order to make it as professional dancers. They must have impeccable balance and the physical stamina to dance for long periods. For example, students attend classes five days a week. The lowest level for the pre-professional school, Level 5, requires 14 hours of training a week. Level 7 requires 36 hours of training a week. Most students need to be proficient in pointe shoes by the time they enter a professional ballet academy. They also need the right body type to be a professional dancer. Ballerinas need to be flexible, evenly proportioned, and coordinated.

Personality

In addition to being physically fit, professional ballerinas must have strong emotional fortitude to withstand competition, long hours and criticism. Some dancers will face rejection after many auditions before they are finally accepted for a role. This persistence requires passion and a strong personality that doesn't get discouraged easily. Professional ballerinas must also be able to work in teams, as most ballet performances involve groups and relying on others.