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Fashion Model Careers

What Does a Fashion Model Do

Models pose for artists, photographers, or customers to help advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food, and appliances.

Duties

Models typically do the following:

  • Display clothing and merchandise in print and online advertisements
  • Promote products and services in television commercials
  • Wear designers’ clothing for runway fashion shows
  • Represent companies and brands at conventions, trade shows, and other events 
  • Pose for photos, paintings, or sculptures
  • Work closely with photographers, hair and clothing stylists, makeup artists, and clients to produce a desired look
  • Create and maintain a portfolio of their work
  • Travel to meet and interview with potential clients
  • Conduct research on the product being promoted—for example, the designer or type of clothing fabric
  • Answer questions from consumers about the products

Almost all models sign with modeling agencies. Agencies represent and promote a model to clients in return for a portion of the model’s earnings. Models typically apply for a position with an agency by submitting their photographs through its website or by attending open casting calls and meeting with agents directly.

Models must research an agency before signing, in order to ensure that the agency has a good reputation in the modeling industry. For information on agencies, models should contact a local consumer affairs organization, such as the Better Business Bureau.

Some freelance models do not sign with agencies. Instead, they market themselves to potential clients and apply for modeling jobs directly. However, because most clients prefer to work with agents, it is difficult for new models to pursue a freelance career.

Models must put together and maintain up-to-date portfolios and composite cards. A portfolio is a collection of a model’s previous work. A composite card contains the best photographs from a model’s portfolio, along with his or her body measurements. Both portfolios and composite cards are typically taken to all casting calls and client auditions.

Because advertisers often need to target specific segments of the population, models may specialize in a certain area. For example, petite and plus-size fashions are modeled by women whose sizes are respectively smaller and larger than that worn by the typical model. Models who are disabled may be used to model fashions or products for consumers with disabilities. “Parts” models have a body part, such as a hand or foot, particularly well suited to model products such as nail polish or shoes.

Models appear in different types of media to promote a product or service. Models advertise products and merchandise in magazine or newspaper advertisements, department store catalogs, or television commercials. Increasingly, models are appearing in online ads or on retail websites. Models also pose for sketch artists, painters, and sculptors.

Models often participate in photo shoots and pose for photographers to show off the features of clothing and other products. Models change their posture and facial expressions to capture the look the client wants. The photographer usually takes many pictures of the model in different poses and expressions during the photo shoot.

Models also display clothes and merchandise live in different situations. At fashion shows, models stand, turn, and walk to show off clothing to an audience of photographers, journalists, designers, and garment buyers. Other clients may require models to interact directly with customers. In retail establishments and department stores, models display clothing directly to shoppers and describe the features and prices of the merchandise. At trade shows or conventions, models show off a business’ products and provide information to consumers. These models may work alongside demonstrators and product promoters to help advertise and sell merchandise.

Models often prepare for photo shoots or fashion shows by having their hair and makeup done by professionals in those industries. The hair stylists and makeup artists may touch up the model’s hair and makeup and change the model’s look throughout the event. However, models are sometimes responsible for applying their own makeup and bringing their own clothing.

How To Become a Fashion Model

No formal education credential is required to become a model. Specific requirements depend on the client, with different jobs requiring different physical characteristics. However, most models must be within certain ranges for height, weight, and clothing size to meet the needs of fashion designers, photographers, and advertisers.

Education

There are no formal educational credentials required to become a model. Most modeling agencies allow applicants to email photos directly to the agency. The agency will then contact and interview prospective models who are well liked. Many agencies also have “open calls,” whereby aspiring models can walk into an agency during a specified time and meet directly with agents and clients.

Some aspiring models attend modeling schools that provide training in posing, walking, applying makeup, and other basic tasks. Although some models are discovered when agents scout for “fresh faces” at modeling schools, attending such schools does not necessarily lead to job opportunities.

Advancement

Models advance by working more regularly and being selected for assignments that offer higher pay. They may appear in magazines, print advertising campaigns, commercials, or runway shows that have higher profiles and provide more widespread exposure.

Because advancement depends on a model’s previous work, maintaining a good portfolio of high-quality, up-to-date photographs is important in getting assignments.

A model’s selection of an agency is also important for advancement: the better the reputation and skill of the agency, the more assignments a model is likely to get.

Important Qualities

Specific requirements depend on the client, but most models must be within certain ranges for height, weight, and clothing size to meet the needs of fashion designers, photographers, and advertisers. Requirements may change slightly over time as perceptions of physical beauty change.

Discipline. A model’s career depends on the person’s maintaining his or her physical characteristics. Models must control their diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep to stay healthy and photogenic. Haircuts, pedicures, and manicures are necessary work-related expenses.

Interpersonal skills. Models must interact with a large number of people, such as agents, photographers, and customers. It is important to be polite, professional, prompt, and respectful.

Listening skills. Models must be able to take direction from photographers and clients during photo shoots and commercials.

Organizational skills. Models must be able to manage their portfolios and their work and travel schedules.

Persistence. Competition for jobs is strong, and most clients have specific needs for each job, so patience and persistence are essential.

Photogenic. Models spend most of their time being photographed. They must be comfortable in front of a camera in order for photographers to capture the desired look.

Style. Models must have a basic knowledge of hair styling, makeup, and clothing. For photographic and runway work, models must be able to move gracefully and confidently.

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Average Salary
$112,685
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
-6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
320
Job Openings

Fashion Model Career Paths

Top Careers Before Fashion Model

Volunteer
10.1 %

Top Careers After Fashion Model

Cashier
8.6 %

Fashion Model Jobs You Might Like

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Fashion Model

Fashion Models in America make an average salary of $112,685 per year or $54 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $303,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $41,000 per year.
Average Salary
$112,685
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Boston, MA
Salary Range89k - 212k$138k$137,799
Tampa, FL
Salary Range83k - 207k$132k$132,054
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range87k - 188k$129k$128,622
Portland, OR
Salary Range84k - 182k$124k$123,986
Minneapolis, MN
Salary Range77k - 193k$123k$122,808
New York, NY
Salary Range80k - 178k$120k$119,953
$62k
$212k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Fashion Model
Fashion Model
The Society Model Management Inc.
The Society Model Management Inc.
02/06/2020
02/06/2020
$208,70002/06/2020
$208,700
Fashion Model
Fashion Model
Men Women Ny Model Management Inc.
Men Women Ny Model Management Inc.
07/18/2019
07/18/2019
$208,70007/18/2019
$208,700
Fashion Model
Fashion Model
Ford Models, Inc.
Ford Models, Inc.
03/18/2019
03/18/2019
$208,70003/18/2019
$208,700
Fashion Model
Fashion Model
Platinum Model Management
Platinum Model Management
11/01/2018
11/01/2018
$100,00011/01/2018
$100,000
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Fashion Model
Men Women Ny Model Management Inc.
Men Women Ny Model Management Inc.
06/07/2018
06/07/2018
$208,70006/07/2018
$208,700
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Fashion Model Demographics

Gender

female

66.6 %

male

28.7 %

unknown

4.8 %

Ethnicity

White

64.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.6 %

Black or African American

10.0 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

34.0 %

French

17.0 %

Japanese

7.5 %
See More Demographics

Fashion Model Education

Majors

Business
15.0 %
Marketing
10.5 %

Degrees

Bachelors

48.5 %

Certificate

21.4 %

High School Diploma

11.8 %

Online Courses For Fashion Model That You May Like

Fashion Blogging: Starting a Fashion Blog
udemy
4.6
(294)

Fashion blogging made simple - wordpress, photography, blog name, brand collaborations...

Sketching for Fashion Design - Beginner Course
udemy
4.6
(1,048)

Learn how to sketch your fashion ideas. A step-by-step course on how professionals do it...

Pattern Making for Fashion Design - Beginner Course (Part 1)
udemy
4.5
(895)

How to use Pattern Making Principals and Techniques to draft patterns for your original fashion design ideas...

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Top Skills For a Fashion Model

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 56.7% of fashion models listed photo shoots on their resume, but soft skills such as discipline and interpersonal skills are important as well.

Best States For a Fashion Model

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a fashion model. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Mississippi, Missouri, and New Jersey. Fashion models make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $138,605. Whereas in Mississippi and Missouri, they would average $129,322 and $127,317, respectively. While fashion models would only make an average of $126,471 in New Jersey, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Missouri

Total Fashion Model Jobs:
9
Highest 10% Earn:
$230,000
Location Quotient:
1.28
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Fashion Model Jobs:
11
Highest 10% Earn:
$221,000
Location Quotient:
1.16
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Utah

Total Fashion Model Jobs:
16
Highest 10% Earn:
$219,000
Location Quotient:
4.18
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Fashion Model Employers

1. Wilhelmina International
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$140,123
Fashion Models Hired: 
159+
2. Ford Models
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$108,682
Fashion Models Hired: 
129+
3. MC2
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$87,275
Fashion Models Hired: 
92+
4. Mega Management, S.l.
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$255,805
Fashion Models Hired: 
23+
5. Q
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$179,198
Fashion Models Hired: 
8+
6. CODE
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$120,442
Fashion Models Hired: 
7+
Updated October 2, 2020