How To Become a Model: 7 Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 29, 2022 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated June 29, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

There are many benefits to a career as a model. You learn skills that can give you poise and confidence. You could have the opportunity to travel to interesting places and meet fascinating people and the salary can also be good, depending on your experience and reputation.

Modeling is a very competitive career choice. In this article, we explore what a model does, the average salary and job outlook for models, how to become one and frequently asked questions about being a model.

What does a model do?

A model uses their physical appearance to help a company advertise a product or to help an artist create or display a work of art. The model might work with a photographer to create fashion pictures or walk down a runway to introduce a fashion designer's latest clothing line.

Artists often hire models to pose for them while they draw, paint or sculpt. Companies sometimes hire models for certain parts of their look. For example, a company may use a model's hand to advertise rings or nail polish.

Related: Fashion Modeling vs. Commercial Modeling: What's the Difference?

Model salary and job outlook

The median salary for a model in the U.S. is $31,910 per year. Female models tend to make more money than male models. This is in part due to the fact there are more female models, so there is greater competition for female modeling jobs.

How much you make as a model depends a lot on your experience and your reputation as a quality model. You also need to work with a good agent who will find you well-paying jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job outlook for models is expected to increase by 11% between 2020 and 2030.

Related: 19 Tips on How To Find Model Jobs

How to become a model

If you want to become a model, here are steps you can take to pursue this career:

1. Decide what kind of model you want to be

There are many types of models, including runway models, print models, plus-size models and hand models. There are also models who do not conform to conventional modeling standards. Given this range of options, it is important you begin your modeling career by deciding the type of modeling that best suits you.

Related: 10 Different Jobs in Modeling To Explore

2. Start practicing at home

You can begin practicing for a modeling career immediately. Look for videos of professional models and study the way they move and pose. Imitate and learn from these videos. You can craft your runway walk in front of a full-length mirror if you have one. Modeling can be a very demanding career, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle and prioritizing exercise can help you stay mentally and physically well.

3. Build your photograph portfolio

Start with photographs taken by your friends. Have them take full body and head shots of you wearing simple makeup against a plain background. This helps an agent or client determine if you are the kind of model they are looking for. Look for start-up photographers who might take pictures of you in exchange for permission to use your pictures in their advertising.

You will eventually need to invest in a photographer to take professional shots. Make sure you have a good range of pictures in your portfolio showing you in several different poses and locations. This shows you to be versatile and able to work with a variety of situations.

Related: How To Build Your Work Portfolio

4. Look for an agent

You can try getting clients on your own, but most clients prefer working through a modeling agency, so you should try to find an agent. When you visit an agency, take your portfolio and be prepared to audition. You should also know your body statistics, including height, weight, eye color and shoe size.

While it is preferable to present professional pictures to an agency, your non-professional pictures may be enough. If the agency likes what they see, they will normally pay for you to visit a professional photographer. Make sure you research an agency to verify they are legitimate before you sign a contract.

Related: How To Succeed at a Hiring Event or Open Interview

5. Take relevant classes

There are modeling schools that teach about the industry, including how to perform at a photo shoot and how to maintain good health and nutrition. However, you do not need to attend modeling school to become a model. If you want to take classes to help improve your modeling skills, consider acting or dance classes.

Acting classes might help you in a photo shoot where you have to convey a mood or character. Dance classes can help you develop poise and good posture.

6. Look for opportunities to be noticed

You need to be fearless about self-promotion to succeed as a model. Always look for opportunities to model that could get you noticed by potential clients. You could, for example, volunteer at a local fashion show or look for retail outlets that need models to demonstrate products.

Perhaps there are local hair stylists or makeup artists who need models to practice on. Be sure to treat each engagement as a professional job, and make sure there is someone there to take pictures of you for your portfolio.

7. Use social media

The internet is a great way to promote yourself since you can post photographs and videos that potentially thousands of people will see. Through social media, you can build followers and develop a platform. This could interest possible clients who might want your followers to see you wearing their products. If you don't already have a professional social media presence, start to build one. Focus particularly on those platforms that emphasize pictures and video.

Related: 8 Steps To Create Successful Social Media Marketing Strategies

Frequently asked questions about being a model

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about a modeling career:

How old do you need to be to start a modeling career?

There are modeling opportunities for people of all ages, including child models under 12 and mature models over 60. For fashion modeling, the typical age range is between 16 and 21. The age requirements for most other types of modeling depend largely on the needs of the client for a campaign or project.

Related: How To Find Fashion Jobs (Plus 10 Careers You Can Pursue)

What is a "go-see"?

A "go-see" is the modeling equivalent of an acting audition. It is where you meet a representative from the client so they can assess whether you are right for the company's image or their campaign. This not only involves taking pictures of you, but also meeting with you to get a sense of your personality and how easy it will be to work with you.

Is it okay for a model to have tattoos and/or scars?

Having tattoos and scars does not prevent you from being a model. It depends on where they are, how big they are and the needs of the client. Your tattoos may enhance a style of clothing or photo shoot location. As with scars, the client can also cover tattoos with clothing or use digital photo editing technology.

What kind of education do I need to be a model?

While high school education is useful, you don't need one to be a model. Fashion models can be as young as 16, so finishing high school is not a requirement. However, your reading and mathematical skills should be good enough to manage your career. You will have to read contracts and budget your income and spending, so it is advisable you get a basic education.

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