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There are only two reasons to become a model: to be rich or famous, or both. Celebrity models have whizzed past the supermodel status. It is no longer enough to make those million-dollar salaries for those at the top of this field. Recognition and idol-worship have become the great salary boosters. It now costs a client stupendous amounts if the product is to be represented by a recognizably famous model. The cosmetic companies with their immense profitability are the big contracts to the models. Celebrity models are more often associated with makeup and fragrances than with any other products. Models who represent or are exclusive to one makeup or fragrance company may not represent another. However, they can accept other types of modeling jobs and are not restricted solely to that one company.

The average model can expect to earn commensurately with his or her locale and the advancement of client requests. Small-town models are often paid per job or a bit above minimum wage, while the more opportunity-filled big city can land you a salary of as much as $300,000 if you are working to capacity. The paycheck will reflect your rate of demand from a modest $15,000 to a pretty stunning bankroll of over a quarter of a million dollars, and these females are often only thirteen years old!

Runway work is usually paid at $150 per hour and could run a bit more or less depending on the time of year, the actual promoters, the number of models needed, and the size of the return expected from that showing. If the show is a very lavish one and continues for an extended length of time that will be taken into consideration and the pay could run as high as about $250 per hour. Runway and fashion shows do not always have cash remuneration in the smaller cities, however, and pay may be made in clothing or even in makeup.

There are also photographic jobs available in moderation, depending on the size of the city and its prominence in the local fashion world. For the department store's advertising in the local newspapers and brochures, you could expect to be paid about $75 per hour.

Agencies in rural areas have a set rate for which the model may be hired. That rate would apply to whatever job the model might be requested to do, from live promotional work (where he or she might otherwise only make the doubled minimum wage) to photographic work. The agency might ask 20 percent, for example. This seems quite fair in that the agency then looks for better-paying jobs and you have a chance at developing a reasonable income. The idea here is that you would like to be a model only and not have to subsidize your income forever with other work.

Local manufacturers sometimes hire models for their showrooms. Such work, though seasonal, pays about $35 to $50 per hour. The work is only available a few weeks during the year, so you could not consider making a living from it.

In a middle-sized city where a model works at all of the aforementioned, there is simply not enough income available from modeling for you to have a real career of it. Ultimately, to make a career in modeling, you have to move to Chicago, Dallas, New York City, or Los Angeles. The experience gleaned in a smaller town will have given you a bit of self-confidence and will hold you in good stead. You will learn that having done your homework in any size city is what forms the basis of professionalism.

The high fashion industry is the only place where you can make a really full-time career as a model and be financially independent. This is true for both men and women. Though the male model could never hope to compete with a high fashion female model in salary or career, he could certainly make a sizable income in the fashion capitals.

Not long ago the top salaries for the fashion models in the middle-sized cities ranged from $8,000 to $12,000 a year. These were the best and the busiest models, and yet that was all the work that was available to them. Women in New York City who are just starting out with an agency are paid between $125 and $300 per hour depending on the kind of modeling. Male models in New York City have a starting pay of between $100 and $200 per hour depending on the agency. Some will and do pay up to $300 per hour.

The way to build up your hourly wage is by building up your popularity. The agency pushes their top models; if you work your way up to that category, you could be making the over-$300,000 salary. A particular look comes in, and if you are that look, your agency will capitalize upon it quickly. Fashion can be quite fickle. While you are the in look, you will have to move fast.


There are many areas in which you could start reaping these salaries. The first area is known for its bread-and-butter support of models-catalog work. You've seen hundreds of catalogs stuffing your mailbox, especially around Christmastime. The catalogs are distributed from department stores, mail order houses, food importers, sporting goods merchandisers, toy manufacturers, travel packagers, and many more. The companies hire models to demonstrate their wares or beam unselfconsciously in everything from silk underwear to million-dollar furs and diamond necklaces. The more prestigious items will be modeled by the highest paid models. Though the salary may start at $187.50 to $250.00 per hour in the bigger agencies, your potential is really unlimited, and there are catalog jobs that are extremely well paid. If a model's fee is $500.00 per hour, and a client has that look in mind as the marketable face, that client knows what prestige a known model's face can bring to the product and its sales. It is becoming very popular to have a known rather than unknown face and figure-thus the constant search for new models who could become the coveted look of tomorrow. There is a similarity in the look of many of the known models, and though there is a professed trend to deviate from the tall-blond-and-leggy look, the demand from the clients still keeps them the highest on the want list.

The editorial rate for the high fashion models is generally pretty low. The current rate is around $150 per day starting pay. Editorial is the work that is print but not commercial like the actual promotion of a product such as soap or toothpaste. A model must do this kind of work in combination with commercial catalog work to survive. Generally speaking, any woman in high fashion could do catalog work, but many of the models that you see doing work in catalogs are not high fashion models. For catalog work, you generally do your own makeup; for fashion work, it is usually done for you.

You can tell by looking at the models if they are high fashion or not, and looking should be part of your preparation for a modeling career. Scan the material that comes your way for the qualities of the fashion model. Your eye will become accustomed to a certain polished look and demeanor. You won't be able to distinguish this by what they are promoting or what they are wearing, but by the stance, projection of attitude, and "feel" of the model.

The more projection the model has, the better the look of that person will be remembered, and that's what will make the hourly rate skyrocket.

You will want to do a mixture of both catalog work and fashion work. Catalog is the bread and butter of modeling work, as the pay scale is good ($187 to $250) per hour; but without fashion work, you won't hold your own in the industry. So you must have a good balance of these two types of work to remain a photographic model represented by an agency.

You are of course paid for your time while you are being made up, having your hair styled, and having the clothing fitted before a photographic session.


There are some high-paying and some rather moderate rates for the same type of work. Runway work that is done in various hotels for business groups and some social functions is occasionally done by models just starting in the field, some fresh out of a modeling school. The models are offered this experience in exchange for photographs and are not remunerated in cash. The photographs and the experience itself are both very valuable to the inexperienced model.

Informal modeling in department stores in New York City is on a pay scale of about $100 per hour. These are the models who do the fashion work in everything from expensive gowns to bathing suits in the largest stores. They are always exceedingly thin but not necessarily photogenic.

Big fashion shows could pay as little as $250 to $500 per hour. The model is compensated at half that pay while being fitted. The fees can go much higher than the aforementioned rates. One Seventh Avenue showroom pays $300 per hour for runway work. Depending on where it is in the world and where the show lies in the fashion season, more or less will be paid.

If you choose to work for a showroom on Seventh Avenue as a model, you will gain experience but not get paid a great deal. This is a weekly job with a weekly salary. Some models like the security of the nine-to-five job, but the difference in your potential salary is significant. The weekly salary would vary according to your experience and the type of garments that you are required to wear.

Much of Seventh Avenue does not require a high fashion model, and there is work to be found there even if you are as short as five feet, six inches. You need only be moderately attractive and pleasant in personality, as you deal directly with customers. You could be modeling any garment from junior sportswear to bathing suits. Current weekly salaries for the huge variety of Seventh Avenue models can be found in the want ads in the local papers. Pay in the smaller department stores is currently about $60 per hour.

Go to several interviews if you plan to work on Seventh Avenue or in the department stores. It will give you an idea where you will fit in best. Both are live modeling jobs, and both could potentially lead to other things. The main difference is the figure type required. The Seventh Avenue model could be the shorter, bustier woman. The department store model who shows women's clothing will have to be at least five feet, eight inches or taller and weigh less than 120 pounds. Some Seventh Avenue models will have the high fashion prerequisites also. If this seems a bit confusing, it is because the garment district has very different needs in its models than high fashion alone.

All you would have to do to get a clearer idea of who might be modeling on Seventh Avenue is to wander through the endless sections of junior to large-size clothing in the stores. If a garment is sold, it was probably modeled for a buyer at some point. The way to narrow the field is to read the specifications in the daily want ads that are calling for models for the garment section.

A whole group of models-women over five feet eight inches tall and weighing 150 to 200 pounds-has come into demand. Such women are needed by the market to model the clothing that a vast number of women now need. Not only are more women taller than they ever were, but they are proportionately filled out. These models can find work not only on Seventh Avenue, but also in photographic work to sell the large-size clothing. The salary level here could be more than $200,000, potentially, per year. Everything from large-sized swimming suits to evening gowns needs to be modeled, so there are plenty of jobs available in this area. Not all agencies handle the large-size model, but you would definitely want to be handled by an agency to guarantee the highest income, unless you wanted to start in the garment district where you would be a weekly salaried employee.

A good model who has just started out should not expect to make anything for the first three months. After that, the jobs should start coming in and the model should reasonably expect to have at least three jobs a week. By the beginning of the second year, you should be making at least $50,000, and from then on the sky is the limit. You will bring in just as much as you yourself are willing to work for. There are always appointments to go to. If you are enthusiastic and have the needed look, you'll be out there perhaps six or seven times every day on "go-sees." No one who has worked as a model could ever call it anything but very hard work!

The model who pushes constantly could certainly see a salary above $250,000.

You will want to do jobs with as much variety as possible to take advantage of your youth. Remember that this career cannot last past the age of twenty-three, unless you are extremely lucky and your face shows no lines. So you have to work extra hard every day, make absolutely certain that you really want this so badly that you're willing to give your all, and you're sure to make it!

With a good agency behind you, and the two of you cooperating on your career, you might just become one of the million dollar models! You'll never know unless you get out there and explore the field. You have to start early. Right now is not too soon!


Modeling in Europe as a way of entering the field is becoming more and more popular. When you are signed by an agency, an apprenticeship (period of learning) in Europe to work with fashion, makeup, photographers, and methods of handling yourself and paraphernalia usually lasts about six months. At that time, most fashion models return to their agencies in the United States. If you should be lucky enough to land some paying work in Europe, you could find yourself working in England, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, France, Holland, Germany, or Italy. If you decide to return to any of these countries at a later time, you will probably find enough modeling work to keep you happy while you enjoy Europe as well.

There are of course many "on location" jobs where an American model or several models are sent to work. These stays are not lengthy, and many models complain that they have been places but had so little time to sightsee that they don't know anything about where they were. At some point in your career, you may want to relocate. The money to be made in modeling is excellent worldwide.

The Japanese market is opening ever wider to Western models. Many young models have been there to do commercial and editorial work. Many catalogs and brochures have featured American models in exotic lands and countries. Many American models who have relocated for any length of time live in Europe.


Most models hope for an exclusive contract with a company whose product they are hired to represent in every type of media possible. The people who first come to mind are those women whose faces have been the sole (or almost sole) model for the huge cosmetic companies. Exclusivity means that the model will only be photographed in that company's cosmetics. This prohibiting act (on the part of the company) is very expensive for the client. By cutting off the model's other possible sources, the hiring company contracts her at a fee that must satisfy her and compensate for all the other potential work that she might have been able to do. Exclusivity is so highly paid that most models are very desirous of such an arrangement. The best part of this type of contract is of course the security and the fame that come with being associated with some of the most prestigious products. Exclusive contracts have been known to go to $1,000,000 per year, and every year these star jobs get even higher dollar fees.


The fees indicated in this chapter for the various types of modeling are all the bottom rates. As a model becomes more well-known and is more in demand, the agency will raise her or his fee. It works somewhat like the supply and demand in any business. The model's fees keep increasing and level off when the demand does. The demand could just stop altogether, too, so one has to be prepared for many eventualities.

Always be prepared for the best and the worst. No one can predict the future. Some of the women and men, who looked like they were going to set the world on fire, within a month, fizzled almost instantaneously.

Experienced models' fees, if all goes well, are often more than $300,000 per year.

The lucky and very rare model whose career takes flight instantaneously could make that half million dollar salary or more! Only one lucky model in ten thousand will make it at all, and the ratio is even greater-much greater-for supermodels.

The models who are making such high yearly salaries are combining many forms of modeling-high fashion, runway, television, catalog, editorial work, videos, and even posters. The money to be made from all of these sources collectively is stupefying!

While the model has a look that is salable, the money must be made and quickly. Youth does not wait, and popularity can and does wane, so the clever model makes all the money possible during her halcyon days.
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