Modeling Career

Significant Points

* Despite faster than average growth, keen competition is expected for modeling jobs.
* Most jobs are part time or have variable work schedules, and many jobs require frequent travel.
* Formal training is limited and education beyond high school usually is not required.

Nature of the Work

Models create public interest in buying products such as clothing, cosmetics, food, and housewares. The information they provide helps consumers make choices among the wide variety of products and services they can buy.

Models pose for photos, paintings, or sculptures. They display clothing such as dresses, coats, underclothing, swimwear, and suits, for a variety of audiences and in various types of media. They model accessories, such as handbags, shoes, and jewelry, and promote beauty products, including fragrances and cosmetics. The most successful models, called supermodels, hold celebrity status and often use their image to sell books, calendars, fitness videos, and other products. In addition to modeling, they may appear in movies and television shows.


Models appear in printed publications, at live modeling events, and on television to advertise and promote products and services. Most modeling jobs are for printed publications, and models usually do a combination of editorial, commercial, and catalog work. Editorial print modeling uses still photographs of models for fashion magazine covers and to accompany feature articles. Commercial print modeling includes work for advertisements in magazines, newspapers, and billboards. Models advertise merchandise and appear in department-store catalogs, mail-order catalogs, and on the Internet.


During a photo shoot, a model poses to demonstrate the features of clothing and other products. Models make small changes in posture and facial expression to capture the look desired by the client. Photographers instruct models to pose in certain positions and to interact with their physical surroundings. Models work closely with photographers, hair and clothing stylists, makeup artists, and clients to produce the desired look and to finish the photo shoot on schedule. Stylists and makeup artists prepare the model for the photo shoot, provide touchups, and change the look of models throughout the day. If stylists are not provided, models must apply their own makeup and bring their own clothing.


Live modeling is done in a variety of locations. Live models stand, turn, and walk to demonstrate clothing to a variety of audiences. At fashion shows and in showrooms, garment buyers are the primary audience. Runway models display clothes that are intended for direct sale to consumers or are the artistic expressions of the designer. High fashion, or haute couture, runway models walk a runway before an audience of photographers, journalists, designers, and garment buyers. Live modeling also is done in apparel marts, department stores, and fitting rooms of clothing designers. In retail establishments, models display clothing directly for shoppers and may be required to describe the features and prices of the clothing. Other models pose for sketch artists, painters, and sculptors.


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 size is smaller or larger than that worn by the typical model. Models who are disabled may be used to model fashions or products for disabled consumers. “Parts” models have a body part, such as a hand or foot, which is particularly well suited to model products such as fingernail polish or shoes.

Almost all models work through agents who provide a link between models and clients. Agents scout for new faces, advise and train new models, and promote them to clients. Clients pay models, and the agency receives a portion of the model’s earnings for its services. A typical modeling job lasts only 1 day, so modeling agencies differ from other employment agencies in that they maintain an ongoing relationship with the model.


With the help of agents, models spend a considerable amount of time promoting and developing themselves. Models assemble and maintain portfolios, print composite cards, and travel to check out potential clients, or “go-sees.” A portfolio is a collection of a model’s previous work that is carried to all go-sees and bookings. A composite card contains the best photographs from a model’s portfolio, along with his or her measurements. Increasingly, composite cards are being sent electronically to clients and printed portfolios are being replaced with digital portfolios.

Models must gather information before a job. From an agent, they learn the pay, date, time, and length of the shoot. Also, models need to ask if hair, makeup, and clothing stylists will be provided. It is helpful for models to know what product is being promoted and what image they should project. Some models research the client and the product being modeled to prepare for a shoot. Once a job is completed, models must check in with their agency and plan for the next appointment.


Source: bls.gov, phombo.com, skyscrapercity.com, princessnyah.com, news.bbc.co.uk, malemodelscene.net, adglitz.com

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