How to Become a

Fashion Model

The complete career guide to be a Fashion Model: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $37,240
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • Get to Travel
    Career Attribute
  • Skill-Based Work
    Career Attribute

Fashion models pose for photographs that appear in department store catalogs, online, in advertisements, and in magazines. They also wear the latest from fashion designers and model them on the catwalk during fashion shows. They may be required to change clothes multiple times during shows.

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What is a Fashion Model?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in fashion model roles:

  • Pose for photographs for a variety of mediums, wearing the new styles for the season
  • Alter facial expressions, poses, and gestures to capture the impression the photographer or designer is aiming for
  • Wear fashion while walking down the catwalk during fashion shows
  • Sit for hair styling and makeup application prior to photo shoots and fashion shows
  • Maintain a portfolio and composite card, and actively seek new modeling opportunities

A Day in the Life

Fashion models specialize in making people want to purchase the new fashions of the year or season. They may work with high-end, renown international designers, modeling new fashion designs by wearing them while walking down the catwalk during fashion shows. They may also work for a specific clothing manufacturer or retailer, posing for photographs that appear in store catalogs, on websites, and in advertisements to entice consumers to purchase new and in-stock fashions.

While modeling is the goal of fashion models, a significant percentage of their work is dedicated to finding new opportunities. Most companies switch their models out each time a new line of clothing is released, so fashion models are always seeking their next job opportunity. They often work with agencies that help them find work, but they may also spend a lot of time collecting images, crafting their portfolios, creating composite cards, and networking with clients to find new modeling jobs.

Before a fashion show or photo shoot, fashion models must spend a lot of time preparing. They sit while their makeup is applied and their hair is fixed by professional stylists, and they practice any clothing changes that must occur quickly during the show. They also discuss needs and desires with clients to ensure the gestures, attitudes, and facial expressions they employ meet the designer’s or photographer’s goals for the impression of the fashion being worn, or of the photograph being taken.

Typical Work Schedule

There is no set schedule for working as a fashion model. At times fashion models work much more than 40 hours a week, and at times they may have little work and work only part-time hours. Fashion shows commonly occur in evenings or on weekends, so they do not have a normal 9-5 schedule, and they commonly need to travel for work to meet with clients or participate in photo shoots.

Typical Employers

For the most part, fashion models are self-employed, though they typically have contracts with agencies that help them find and secure work for a percentage of the amount of money made on jobs. Their clients often include clothing retailers and fashion designers.

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How To Become a Fashion Model

No formal postsecondary education is required to become a fashion model, though modeling classes can help models improve their chances of finding work by teaching them how to alter their facial expressions to achieve different impressions, how to pose, and how to walk down the catwalk correctly. The biggest requirement, however, for fashion models is meeting the aesthetic requirements of clients. Most clients will want their models to be certain heights, weights, and have distinct facial structures.

Finding a modeling agency is an important first step in becoming a model. While it’s possible to find work as a model without an agency, most clients prefer working with agencies, so not having an agency could limit your potential job opportunities. Before choosing a modeling agency, it’s important to do research and find reputable agencies. Unfortunately, many modeling agencies take advantage of their clients by charging high fees and producing dissatisfactory results, providing few jobs.

Whether you choose to find an agency or not, having a portfolio of work and a composite card—a card highlighting your best photographs and your body measurements—is crucial. You can begin building your portfolio through a modeling school, or you can volunteer to pose in photographs for a local clothing retailer’s website. Without a portfolio of professional photographs, you may still be able to find an agency to represent you by attending open casting calls or sending photos of yourself to agencies.

Fashion Model Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Fashion Model salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Fashion Model's can make an average annual salary of $37,240, or $18 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $18,780 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #579 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Fashion Models

  • 0.4%   Doctorate
  • 2.4%   Masters
  • 18.4%   Bachelors
  • 8.8%   Associates
  • 27.6%   College
  • 30.7%   High School
  • 11.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Fashion Model job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of --- jobs for a total of 5,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a --- change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #594 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Fashion Models

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Clothing stores 2,700 -300 0%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 1,000 --- 0%
Self-employed workers 500 --- ---

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