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Become A Professional Model

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Working As A Professional Model

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Scheduling Work and Activities
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $85,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Professional 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.

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How To Become A Professional 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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Professional Model Typical Career Paths

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Average Yearly Salary
$85,000
Show Salaries
$40,000
Min 10%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$183,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Ford Models
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
6.1 years
How much does a Professional Model make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Professional Model in the United States is $85,889 per year or $41 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $40,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $183,000.

Real Professional Model Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Professional Fashion Model IMG Models LLC New York, NY Feb 11, 2015 $1,043,500 -
$1,565,250
Professional Fashion Model New Dream Fashion Media Group LLC Las Vegas, NV Sep 01, 2015 $521,750 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model New Dream Fashjion Media Group LLC Las Vegas, NV Sep 01, 2015 $521,750
High Fashion Professional Model Charlotte Marie Wild CA Feb 01, 2011 $521,750
Professional Fashion Model Elite Model Management, LLC New York, NY Apr 16, 2016 $208,700 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model Nm Creative LLC New York, NY Sep 30, 2013 $208,700 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model Nm Creative LLC New York, NY Oct 02, 2013 $208,700 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model IMG Models, LLC. New York, NY Dec 02, 2013 $208,700 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model IMG Models, LLC. New York, NY Nov 04, 2013 $208,700 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model Nm Creative LLC New York, NY Nov 11, 2013 $208,700 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model IMG Models, LLC. New York, NY Nov 27, 2013 $208,700 -
$1,043,500
Professional Fashion Model Request Model Management, Inc. New York, NY Dec 02, 2013 $208,700 -
$1,043,500

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Top Skills for A Professional Model

  1. Project Runway
  2. Television Commercials
  3. Photo Shoots
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Accessorized all clothing for photo shoots according to brand-specific guidelines.
  • Perform in national commercials, music videos and live shows.
  • Assist backstage at runway shows by dressing and styling models while creating a positive atmosphere in a fast-paced environment.
  • Booked over 25 Modeling Jobs for companies such as Target and Nike.
  • Participated in a variety of print media, television, and fashion shows for established international modeling/acting agency.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Professional Models

  1. Alaska
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. New Jersey
  4. Rhode Island
  5. West Virginia
  6. New York
  7. Delaware
  8. Louisiana
  9. Maine
  10. Kentucky
  • (6 jobs)
  • (93 jobs)
  • (45 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (64 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)

Professional Model Demographics

Gender

Female

58.1%

Male

25.8%

Unknown

16.1%
Ethnicity

White

61.8%

Hispanic or Latino

15.9%

Black or African American

10.8%

Asian

7.8%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

41.2%

French

11.8%

Italian

11.8%

Chinese

5.9%

Vietnamese

5.9%

Greek

5.9%

Hebrew

5.9%

Korean

5.9%

Croatian

5.9%
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Professional Model Education

Schools

Liberty University

10.8%

University of Central Florida

8.1%

New York University

8.1%

Roger Williams University

8.1%

Utah Valley University

5.4%

Grand Valley State University

5.4%

Loyola University of Chicago

5.4%

Orange Coast College

5.4%

State University of New York Empire State College

5.4%

Santa Monica College

5.4%

University of Kansas

5.4%

Saddleback College

5.4%

Eastern Michigan University

2.7%

University of Nevada - Reno

2.7%

University of Baltimore

2.7%

Nichols College

2.7%

Northwest Missouri State University

2.7%

Marymount Manhattan College

2.7%

Pima Community College

2.7%

Moraine Valley Community College

2.7%
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Majors

Business

24.2%

Psychology

10.0%

Graphic Design

7.5%

Management

5.0%

Marketing

5.0%

Communication

5.0%

Criminal Justice

5.0%

Public Relations

4.2%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

3.3%

Biology

3.3%

Theatre

3.3%

Journalism

3.3%

Nursing

3.3%

Public Health

2.5%

Medical Technician

2.5%

Sociology

2.5%

Military Applied Sciences

2.5%

Kinesiology

2.5%

General Studies

2.5%

English

2.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.6%

Other

31.1%

Associate

10.4%

Masters

9.8%

Diploma

1.0%

Doctorate

1.0%
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