Bureau of Labor Statistics

Models

models image
Models pose for artists and photographers.
Quick Facts: Models
2020 Median Pay $31,910 per year
$15.34 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2020 2,700
Job Outlook, 2020-30 11% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 300

Summary

What Models Do

Models pose for artists, photographers, and other clients to help advertise products.

Work Environment

Models work in a variety of conditions, from comfortable indoor studios and runway fashion shows to outdoors in all weather conditions. Most models work part time and have unpredictable work schedules. Many also experience periods of unemployment.

How to Become a Model

No formal educational credential is required and training is limited. Specific requirements depend on the client. However, most models must be within certain ranges for height, weight, and clothing size to meet the needs of fashion designers, photographers, and advertisers.

Pay

The median hourly wage for models was $15.34 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of models is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 500 openings for models are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for models.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of models with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about models by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Models Do

Models
Models make changes to their expressions in order to capture a look desired by the photographer.

Models pose for artists, photographers, or customers to help advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food, and appliances. Models also work as a fit or fitting model, enabling the manufacturer or fashion designer to achieve the best fit for new styles.

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 hairstylists 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.

Work Environment

Models
Models may work in studios with photographers and stylists.

Models held about 2,700 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of models were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 29%
Junior colleges; state, local, and private 7
Self-employed workers 7

Models work in a variety of conditions, from comfortable photography studios and runway fashion shows to outdoors in all weather conditions.

Models also may need to travel for photo shoots or to meet clients in different cities.

Work Schedules

Models’ schedules can be demanding and stressful. Many models work part time and have unpredictable work schedules. They must be ready to work for a show or attend a photo shoot on short notice. The number of hours worked varies with the job. Many models experience periods of unemployment.

How to Become a Model

Models
Specific requirements depend on the client, but most models must be within certain ranges for height, weight, and clothing size.

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.

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 show potential. 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 may 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. In addition, actively participating in social media and building a large number of followers increases exposure.

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. 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 take direction from photographers and clients during photo shoots and commercials.

Organizational skills. Models must 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 move gracefully and confidently.

Pay

Models

Median hourly wages, May 2020

Total, all occupations

$20.17

Other sales and related workers

$18.06

Models

$15.34

 

The median hourly wage for models was $15.34 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.00, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $59.97.

In May 2020, the median hourly wages for models in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $19.19
Junior colleges; state, local, and private 19.02

Models’ schedules can be demanding and stressful. Many models work part time and have unpredictable work schedules. They must be ready to work for a show or attend a photo shoot on short notice. The number of hours worked varies with the job. Many models experience periods of unemployment.

Job Outlook

Models

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Models

11%

Total, all occupations

8%

Other sales and related workers

0%

 

Employment of models is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 500 openings for models are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Rising retail sales, particularly online and in e-commerce, will encourage businesses to increase their digital advertising and marketing budgets. Demand for models to appear in digital advertisements is expected to lead to increased employment for these workers. However, less expensive digital and social media options are allowing companies promote their products and brands directly to consumers, which may moderate employment demand for models.

Employment projections data for models, 2020-30

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Models

SOC Code41-9012
Employment, 20202,700
Projected Employment, 20303,000
Percent Change, 2020-3011
Numeric Change, 2020-30300
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of models.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Actors Actors

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media.

Some college, no degree The annual wage is not available.
Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and a range of other beauty services.

Postsecondary nondegree award $27,630
Fashion designers Fashion Designers

Fashion designers create clothing, accessories, and footwear.

Bachelor's degree $75,810
Photographers Photographers

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images.

High school diploma or equivalent $41,280

Contacts for More Info

For information about modeling schools and agencies in your area, contact a local consumer affairs organization, such as the Better Business Bureau.

O*NET

Models

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Models,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/models.htm (visited October 07, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

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