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Modeling is not a straightforward profession to describe. There are a lot of different facets of the industry, depending on which direction you want to go in. If we were to simplify it as much as possible, we might say that a model’s job is to look as good as possible to promote clothing and lifestyle items. However, this really is too simplistic and ignores a lot of the more complex aspects of the job.
Before we can even get on to discussing model salary, we should start by defining the two main ways that people get work in the industry. The first is through a modelingagency, which you may well be familiar with as a concept. Here is a checklist of the top 60 Modeling Agencies in America.
The model has an agent who is assigned to find them work. They are often on the books with a number of other models who may have similar or different looks to theirs. A client will get in touch with the agent and request a specific look; it is then the agent’s task to offer models who they think will suit the brief. If the client likes you, and you are available, then you may get the job. You will, however, have to pay some of your fees over to your agent in return for their work.
The other type of modeling work is freelance. If you are a freelancer, you are solely in control of finding your own work. This means that you may have to work harder to find jobs, as clients are not likely to come directly to you. You will have to seek out opportunities and castings and put yourself forward for them, which may mean attending a lot of auditions without getting in. The benefit, of course, is that you get to keep the full fee that you are paid. We had put together a few tips for aspiring models, that will help you get started.
It is debatable whether a model can earn more as a freelancer or with an agency. It may well be down to either personal preference, or whether you can even manage to get signed with an agency at all. Competition for these spots is fierce and you may be dropped from your agency if you do not perform well.
Generally speaking, the highest-paid models in the world are signed with agencies. After you reach a certain level, you may be working so much that you do not have time to look for opportunities. This is when it will be useful for you to have an agent doing it for you!
There are a huge number of modeling niches to choose from. We will do our best to cover as many as possible here, though be aware that there may even be more if you want to find a very specific niche.
The working environment can differ greatly from day to day, as well as from job to job. This is because the work is different every week! You might be shooting a swimsuit look in the Bahamas and having a great time, or shivering in Canadian snow without a coat to get the shot.
One thing is for certain, and that is that models have to look after themselves. You will sometimes be given refreshments and looked after by a runner or assistant, but not always. You may have to supply your own food and drink, keep yourself warm and dry, or simply endure physical discomfort until the work is done.
If you are not cut out for this kind of environment, you may not succeed. Walking away from a set because you’re too cold or tired may affect your reputation, which is everything in the fashion industry.
Factors Affecting Model Salaries
There are a great number of factors which might affect your salary. They include, but are by no means limited to, the following:Gender – Male models tend to earn less, as a rule.Time spent working – You may not even be working one day a week, or you could be working seven days a week, depending on how good you or your agent is at getting bookings.Industry-level – Indie and small brands are sure to pay less than the bigger fashion houses which are already well-established with a good budget, meaning you can’t earn as much at the start of your career.Location – Working in one of the fashion capitals of the world (London, New York, Paris, Milan, etc) will likely get you a higher model salary than somewhere where modeling is not as well-established.Your appearance – You may be judged to be worth more or less depending on how well you fit the required look and size.Negotiation ability – If you negotiate a good contract, you can potentially earn a lot more. If you don’t negotiate at all, you could end up being low-paid compared to your potential.Agency – If you are a freelancer or if you have an agent that takes a low cut, or if your agent takes a high cut, then you could be paid more or less.Cost of work – Models often have expenses taken out of their salaries. These can include things like flights, taxis and cars, food, accommodation, and so on, especially when travel to another city is required.
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Average Model Salaries
Ziprecruiter’s figures range from as high as $401,500 to as low as $11,000 , with an average model salary of $125,457 annually in the US. Indeed states that the average hourly model salary is $23.43, although their figures do include adult modeling jobs which may skew the number towards a higher value. Top-level models can easily command several hundred dollars per hour, if not more, depending on the job and their status. Someone like Kate Moss, for example, has entered a level of fame where her face is instantly recognizable – and for this reason, she will be paid not just as a model but also as a celebrity. Her salary has been reported in the millions on an annual basis, though of course, she is far above the average.
Throughout the US, there are certain areas where you will see higher hourly rates or more jobs available. New York and Los Angeles tend to have the most work, with an average model salary of $25 an hour reported in California.
We can approach the model salary per year figures with a little bit of caution, as they are usually calculated on the idea of a 40-hour workweek at the hourly rate reported. It’s actually rare for models to work this much! That means that the real average model salary per year is likely a lot lower than it appears.
It is possible to make a lot of money as a model – even to become a millionaire. The reality for many models is a lot lower. However, if you are determined to work hard, keep in shape, and push your career to the limit, you could easily earn as much or more than you would in an office job. This is a great motivating factor for many models.
Make sure to have a back-up plan in mind, as modeling often has an expiration date for most models. When you are judged to be too old, your salary will plunge or could dwindle away altogether.Frequently Asked Questions
How much do models get paid?Model salaries can vary quite a bit depending on experience, industry, length of the project, location, agency and a myriad other factors. Individual model incomes can fluctuate from project to project and season to season.
How much does a model earn in a year?Models can earn anywhere from as high as $401,500 to as low as $11,000 a year according to Ziprecruiter. Model salaries are highly variable based on industry and depending on experience, appearance, celebrity factor etc.
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What is the highest paid model job?Editorial and runway fashion models who can attain supermodel status are the highest paid models. Supermodel status comes with a certain degree of celebrity factor that can play a big role in raising a model’s fees.