Model Career Guide

If runway shows, photo shoots, and commercials are what you have in mind for your future, then a career in modeling may be for you.

Modeling is a fast-paced career. It can be very glamours and offers a wide range of opportunities. Gone are the days when you could only be a model if you are thin and tall. The current climate calls for models of all sizes, shapes and ages!


You want to know why I love modeling so much? There are many reasons, but I realized, I love having the opportunity to become someone else, just for a few hours. This year, through my modeling, I've been a forest fairy, a 1950s house wife, a waitress at a diner, a lovely bride, 1940s pin up girl, an elegant movie star, a nurse, a doctor, mother nature, a holiday vixen, and others. For me, it's fun an exciting to play those parts while incorporating a piece of myself into it.

Model Career Ratings



Personal Growth




What a model actually does

Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid are some of the biggest names in the modeling industry, from both past and present. Walking in runway fashion shows across the world, appearing in ad campaigns for the most exclusive brands, and gracing the covers of magazines is a glamorous life to live. However, this is not the norm for the vast majority of models.

High fashion modeling typically calls for very tall and thin individuals, and this is often what people think of when we talk about a model. However, commercial modeling campaigns allow for more diversity in the type of people that are used. These are the individuals of all shapes and sizes that you see in many toothpaste commercials and food advertisements. Just because you do not meet the model stereotype does not mean you are excluded from this career path. Almost all models sign with a modelling agency who promote the model to client in return for a proportion of their earnings. The typical duties and responsibility of a model include:

  • Displaying clothing and merchandise on advertisements
  • Promoting products and services in  commercials
  • Wearing clothing for runway fashion shows
  • Representing companies and brands at conventions, trade shows, and other events
  • Posing for photos, paintings, or sculptures
  • Working closely with photographers, hair stylists, clothing stylists, makeup artists, and clients to produce a desired look
  • Creating and maintaining a portfolio of their work
  • Conducting research on the product being promoted

Why they are needed

Models play and important role in many industries, whether it’s fashion, cosmetics, food and beverages, homeware or sports. They are responsible for flaunting and promoting products, which in turn increases consumer interest and purchasing. They also play a crucial role in providing feedback and advice to suppliers.

Pros and cons of a career as an actor and actress:


  • No college degree is required to be a model, making it an accessible career
  • Models can be included in fashion and cosmetics
  • Each day models get to work with interesting and likeminded people (e.g., photographers)
  • There is the opportunity to earn a high salary
  • It can be a fast-paced and interesting career that offers many opportunities
  • Models may have travel opportunities


  • Rejection is a constant factor for models
  • Models only get paid when they book a job. This requires consistently going to auditions and submitting headshots 
  • Models will feel pressured to look a certain way (especially those in the fashion industry)
  • Models may work long hours, which involves lots of standing and posing
  • It can become boring and tiring depending on the job
  • It can have a huge impact on your mental (and physical) health


Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment models is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is slower than the average for all occupations. This slow employment growth is expected because although rising retail sales (particularly online and e-commerce sales) will encourage businesses to increase their digital advertising and marketing budgets, there are less expensive digital and social media options than models. With the rise of social media and internet usage, products and brands can be promoted directly to the consumer and this will lessen the need for professional models or large-scale advertising campaigns.

Although more jobs may be available in large cities (e.g., New York and Los Angeles) competition for these jobs is expected to be very strong. Aspiring models may have the best job opportunities in smaller cities, working for smaller modeling agencies and local clients and businesses. Also, participating in social media, and having large numbers of followers may provide increased exposure and job opportunities.

Age, weight, and height requirements are typically less rigid for models appearing in commercials and advertisements than for those looking to become runway or fashion models. In addition, as the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse and businesses become more globalized, demand for racially and ethnically diverse models will likely increase.

Career paths

There are no formal educational requirements to become a model. To kickstart their career, models will email photos directly to agencies. The agencies then contact models who they like the look of.

Some aspiring models may attending modeling school, where they will learn about posing, walking, applying make up and other basic tasks. Although by not means a necessity, some agents will scout these schools looking for ‘fresh faces’.

To advance in their career, models work more regularly and will get noticed to be selected for assignments tat offer higher pay. They may appear in magazines, print advertising campaigns, commercials or runway shows. To have the best advancement opportunities, models will need to keep a detailed portfolio of their work and ensure they are with the agency with the best reputation.

Example Job Titles for Model

Below is a list of common job titles in the Model field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for models in the United States was $13.63 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.54, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.75 per hour. The top paying industries were ‘college, universities and professional schools’, where the median hourly salary was $18,63. The second highest paying industry was the arts, entertainment and recreation, where the median hourly wage was $17.88. Finally, junior colleges was the third higher paying industry, where the median annual wage was $16.52.

A models’ schedule can be demanding and stressful. The number of hours worked can vary by job and therefore their income can be unstable.

Autonomy and Flexibility

As a whole, autonomy and flexibility is likely to be low for models. Competition is tough for modeling contracts and models may find themselves working jobs they don’t feel they can relate to. Models may be able to add a touch of their own creative flare, but as a whole it is down to the photographer or shoot director to dictate the outcome of the shoot.

Models will also have little control over their schedule. In times when there is less work, models may have a more flexible schedule. However, successful and thriving models will spend a lot of their time travelling to different jobs and will have a manic schedule.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a professional model, based on average annual salary and number of jobs available, are:

  1. Alaska where the average annual salary was $170,459
  2. Pennsylvania, where the average annual salary was $116,988
  3. New Jersey, where the average annual salary was $122,920
  4. Rhode Island, where the average annual salary was $112,336
  5. West Virginia, where the average annual salary was $120,042

According to Zippia, the worst states to be a model were Utah, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Work environment

29% of models in the United States were employed by colleges, universities and professional schools. 12% of models in the United States were employed by junior colleges, 8% were self-employed workers and 2% were employed by the arts, entertainment and recreation industry.

Models work in a variety of conditions, from comfortable photography studios, to the bright lights of a runway fashion show to outdoors in all weather conditions. Models will probably spend a lot of time travelling for photo shoots or to meet clients.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Model careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Model career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Model.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None


  • None


Holland Codes (RIASEC)

Personality types

The exact personality type of a model is unexplored. However, it is probable that models will be open to experience, as this will give them the creative flare they need and the desire to travel and experience new things. They are also likely to be to be extraverted and to enjoy interacting with lots of different people.

Accomplishment and mastery

When models make it and become successful, they will undoubtable feel a high sense of accomplishment and mastery. However, the reality of the profession is that not many people make it as a hugely successful and famous models. A lot of the time, models will be living from job to job. Models may find themselves completing jobs they don’t always want for money or recognition.

Meaning and contribution

In all honesty, the work of a model has little meaning or contribution. Although necessary to promote some brands or products, models are becoming less needed in society. Their work does not help the lives of those in need and it is unlikely to change the world!

Life fit

A models’ schedule can be demanding and stressful. Many models will 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. Therefore, it is not a career that provides the best life fit.

Who will thrive in this career?

Modelling is a cut throat industry that can be fiercely competitive. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a successful model as it depends largely on the client. However, thriving models are likely to need qualities such as:

  • The ability to be adaptable and flexible
  • The physical attributes suited to each client
  • The confidence and personality to impress clients
  • The desire to take risks and live job to job
  • The desire to constantly be learning and updating your skills and knowledge throughout your entire career

Who will struggle in this career?

Obviously, those who are not suited to what a client would look for will struggle as a model. Similarly, those who are not passionate about modeling, fashion or promoting products may struggle as a model.

Additionally, those seeking total financial stability and a job that is easy to fit around family life may struggle as a model. Lastly, if you’re not confident in front of the camera or with other people then you may struggle as a model.


Quick Glance


Skills and talents

The specific requirements for a model depend on the client and the industry they work in. In general, models must be within a certain height, weight and clothing size range. However, this is becoming less true as the world becomes more accepting of all body shapes and sizes. The typical duties and responsibilities of a model include:

  • Creativity and style, as models need to be able to envision the whole shoot and how they fit in to the photographers ideas
  • Photogenic, as model must spend most of their time being photographers and must be comfortable in front of the camera so that photographers to capture the desired look
  • Organization skills, as models will need to manage their portfolios and their work and travel schedules
  • Persistence, as competition for jobs is strong and more clients have specific needs for each job
  • Discipline, as a model’s career depends on their ability to maintain their physical characteristics
  • Interpersonal skills, as models must interact with a large number of people (e.g., agents, photographers and other models)
  • Physical stamina, as models will be on their feet all day and must keep up with the demands of the job


There are no formal education requirements needed to become a model. Some models may attend modelling school. However, this is not a necessity.


There are not specific certifications or licensure needed to be a model in the United States.

How to Become


A career as a model is a fast-paced career that can be very glamorous and offer lots of travel opportunities.

Typically, high fashion modeling calls for very tall and thin individuals. However, commercial modeling campaigns allow for more diversity in the type of people that are used. These are the individuals of all shapes and sizes that you see in many toothpaste commercials and food advertisements. This means that, more than ever, modeling is career that offers a wide range of opportunities to a wide range of people.

Immediate action

If you want to become a model then its best to find a photographer to shoot some headshots for you. After you’ve done this, you can send this to a modeling agency.

Education and learning

There are no formal educational requirements to become a model. However, some models may attend modelling school but this is not a necessity.

Skill development

It can take years to develop the skills required to be a successful model (e.g., how to pose and work the camera) and models will continue to adapt their skills throughout their entire career.


Ask a Question

Have a question about Model careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date