Behind the flash of glitz and glamour, modeling is an industry unto itself. If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a model, you may have also at some point have caught yourself wondering “how much do models make?”

It’s a good question. While modeling can be a fun extracurricular activity, some people are looking to pursue modeling as a profession. The answer is that one size does not fit all. Learning industry standards can help navigate expectations of pay when it comes to modeling. A model’s income can vary drastically based on experience, which jobs they book, which market they are working in, and how often they are booking jobs. 

For commercial models, there are many different types of modeling jobs that offer paid opportunities. Print ads (i.e. magazines, newspapers, or brochures) typically pay based on an hourly rate, half-day rate, or full-date rate. Another way that compensation may be offered is through a bonus which normally is considered on top of the session fee for usage of content. Sometimes models negotiate with photographers for print usage as a form of compensation and some smaller bookings may offer payments with swag, products, digital promotion or other trades of goods/services.

Promotional models often have paid hourly jobs or may be incentivized based on some commission goal set by the client. Gigs like hair shows may pay between $250 and more than $500 for a day or two depending on how drastic the hair style they are looking to achieve may be.

Fashion models can make money by booking modeling jobs like runway shows, showroom/fit modeling, editorial and fashion modeling. Most runway shows have per show rates meanwhile showrooms are typically at an hourly rate. For editorial fashion photoshoots, the pay can vary drastically. If you are shooting for a major publication like Elle or Vogue, you are more likely to contract a larger payment than someone who is shooting for a smaller brand.


If you are a signed model with an agency they will negotiate your model pay rate on your behalf. A legitimate agency gets paid a percentage of what their signed models are paid so it is in their best interest to get their models a good rate or a good trade of usage that can ultimately help boost your marketability.

For brand new models who are just starting out, unpaid work may be important to help build a portfolio. A portfolio includes examples of work a model has done. It is not a photo album of your favorite pictures. So in order to fill a portfolio, a new model will often work at unpaid gigs or book test shoots. Most importantly, new models need to do their research and make sure whoever they are working with is a legitimate professional or company and that they safely pursue these opportunities following industry standards.

It’s very common for models (and actors!) in large and small markets to work other jobs to provide a steady stream of income when first starting out. Auditioning full time does not mean a model will book every (or even ANY) job. The best kinds of secondary jobs for new models are the ones that have flexible schedules that will allow time to dedicate time to attend auditions and go sees, time for networking, time for training or attending shoots, etc.

Many Barbizon alumni have booked fantastic opportunities through placement or their agencies following competition. But like with anything else there are no guarantees. An aspiring model or actor needs to constantly be putting themselves out there and marketing who they are as a brand. And we’re in your corner. Grads – reach out to your local Barbizon and ask about the graduate support services that your local center offers. We want to see you shine!

By Sierra Maupin