How Much Does A Fashion Model Make?

"I have the looks and height to become a fashion model. While modeling isn’t something that I would find myself doing for a long time, I’m drawn to what I read in magazines about models earning really big bucks. Is this true? How much do fashion models earn?"

asked by Christine B. from Manhattan, New York

Before giving you the figures, it’s important to understand that modeling does not provide a steady stream of income, especially if you are just starting out in the business. In fact, a lot of models experience dry times or periods when they don’t get booked for fashion shows or photo shoots. When there is a job, they also have to be ready to go in any part of the globe at very short notice.

The models you read about in magazines “earning really big bucks” are those that have reached supermodel status. Their breed has been famously epitomized by Linda Evangelista when she said, “I won’t get out of bed for less than $10,000.” However, the reality for many aspiring models seeking a break in the industry is that they really have to get out of bed for not even a mere fraction of that amount.

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, the median hourly wage for models in May 2012 was $9.02. That means half of the models earned more than the median wage and the other half made less. For that year, models belonging to the lowest 10 percent made less than $7.81 per hour while the top 10 percent made over $20.91 an hour.

In the May 2013 National Employment and Wage Data from the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage of models only went up very slightly and is now pegged at $9.15. Their annual mean wage is $26,600. Their salary can be compared with demonstrators and product promoters, the other two occupations in the sales category where models also belong. The median hourly wage of demonstrators and product promoters is $11.75 and their annual mean wages are a bit higher at $28,950.

If your intention is to seriously make a name for yourself in the modeling industry, you’ll need to make tradeoffs because not everything is about money. In a number of instances, fashion models may even accept a job without getting paid in exchange for the serious boost the work is going to give her portfolio. Hopefully, the sacrifice is going to pay off as improved credentials are going to attract more clients in the future. Sometimes, a model is not also compensated financially. The payment can be in the form of clothes, shoes, bags or the item being modeled.

Models also have to spend when they go on gigs. Unless a client is generous enough to sponsor her airfare to locations, she will have to factor that and the cost of renting a model apartment for the duration of the event in her expenses as well. She will also have to spend money in sending her portfolio and composite cards to potential clients.

Models that actually make it to the top tier in the industry, however, get to increase their earnings because they won’t only be walking the ramp and doing photo shoots. A movie or television stint, the chance to also create their own clothing line and even produce their own shows all increase their earning power.

Getting to that level, however, is not going to be easy. There are a number of gorgeous girls who have been in the industry for a number of years and are still not getting anywhere near their dream of having a lucrative modeling career. It’s definitely not a profession for the faint of heart but for those who are determined, achieving success is possible.

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