The idea of being a model enters the heads of many during their tween and teen years. Sashaying down a runway, appearing on magazine covers, being sought after by designers and admired by millions sounds like a dream existence. In truth, the number of models who achieve that kind of outsize success is quite small. Still, in major cities, it is possible to earn a living as a fashion model even it you do not gain wide celebrity. Further, other types of modeling, such as parts modeling, lingerie modeling and commercial print modeling can supplement or serve as a full-time income, depending on market demand.
In terms of pay among the most successful, fashion models are at the top of the modeling pecking order. You may not start earning five figures a day from your first day with an agency, but models who are in high demand can earn that much and more, states Forbes.com. Most working models even in top market cities like New York, and secondary markets like Los Angeles and Miami, do not work every day, or even five days in a given week. When they do work, they typically earn a day rate or an hourly fee. Both depend on the type of assignment. Rate ranges follow: Runway models in major markets typically earn $250 per hour, states Independent Models, but in NYC, top models can earn up to $10,000 per show, or higher. Fashion editorial work -- modeling clothing for fashion publications -- pays a relatively low $200 per day according to Independent Modeling. Models do this type of work for the wide exposure it will get them. Fashion print advertising is highly lucrative. Models can rake in $150 to $250 per hour or $1,200 to $3,500 per day or more. Coveted cosmetics company contracts can pay from $300,000 to $2 million, according to Forbes.com.
Parts modeling consists mostly of hand, leg and foot modeling. Demand for parts models varies outside major cities, but if you establish yourself as reliable and easy to work with, you can work whenever assignments come up. Of course, parts work requires fastidious care of hands, feet or legs, depending on your specialty, but the reward is well worth it. States Independent Modeling, you can earn from $300 to $500 per hour and $1,000 to $10,000 per day as a parts model.
Lingerie models generally show bras, slips and panties, as well as sleepwear. Because the model is revealing more of her body, the rates are typically doubled. For example, states Independent Modeling, lingerie editorial would be billed at $400 per day, while the catalog day rate is from $2,400 to $7,000 or more.
Commercial Print Model
Commercial print models have a more everyday appearance than fashion models. This type of modeling is open to a wider age range as well. Commercial print models may appear as parents, students, doctors, lawyers or businesspeople in brochures, website ads, magazine ads and billboards. Shoots may be in studio or on location. Rates are typically in the range of $75 to $150 per hour or $400 to $950 per day, in a small- to medium-size market such as Tampa Bay, but may be higher, depending on the client and the project. Commercial print modeling in the San Francisco area may pay as much as $250 per hour.
As modeling is typically performed on a freelance basis, there is no yearly salary. Yearly earnings depend on how often a model works and the pay rates in her city. According to Forbes.com, the highest earning fashion models can earn several million dollars per year via runway, fashion print and cosmetic company contracts. Those less in demand in major fashion centers who work steadily can still bring in six figures per year. Those who work only occasionally may need to supplement their income with other types of jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean wage of models nationally (as of 2009) as $36,420.