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Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Much Do Models Get Paid? Part 1 - Overview

I was looking through my blog posts under the Label/Category "Money Matters" on my blog here lately and realized that while I have a good number of posts related to pay rates, advice on how to charge for modeling services, etc., I didn't really have a post that just kept it black and white when it comes to this very common question: "How much do models get paid?"

I believe you can never have too much information on any subject so that's why I'm adding another post to this category (a 3-part series to be exact) that will hopefully present yet another perspective and additional knowledge as to how models earn their keep.

Please note that this post is talking about payment and earnings for the average working model, not supermodels and the other high earning types of models we ogle over.

So How Much Do Models Make Anyway?

Whenever I'm asked this question I can't just give a straight answer because there isn't really just one that applies. The modeling industry is so vast and broad, there are different niches/categories of modeling to consider and don't forget that pay rate and earning potential is different for freelance models than those with agency representation.

The most generic answer based on the latest labor studies for the United States is $30,000-$40,000 per year, if we're talking about salary. But don't get it confused--remember that models don't get a salary paid to them in the form of a regular check once or twice a month like an employee at a company. It is an independent contractor role so the models are paid per assignment.

The average working model in foreign markets don't fare much better, either, and make considerably less than the range listed for the U.S.

If you think about it, the salary range described above isn't a lot of money. Factor in the following: bills (cell phone, credit card, car payment), living expenses (rent/mortgage, insurance, utilities, food) and--for agency repped models--the commission that goes to the agency, and at the end of the day it doesn't leave you with much to work with.

Want to break down the pay rate for models even further? According to the site MyFootPath.com:

The average hourly pay for models is $15.83 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yikes. Sounds awfully low, doesn't it? But that's how the numbers work out for the most part.

No Established Pay Rates

Keep in mind that the hourly pay listed above is the "average" based on a bunch of statistical and mathematical formulas that I won't even pretend to know how to break down because I suck at math, haha.

There are modeling gigs that pay super well. $100/hour is a common rate, as are those that pay a flat half day or full day rate. Depending on the client, budget and model needed, a project could pay anywhere from $300-$500 for a half day, while those on the higher end of the scale could shell out as much as $1,500-$2,000+ per day.

When it comes to hourly pay, the higher the pay rate, the less time the model will be needed and vice-versa. Half and full day rates tend to be better obviously but, again, the pay a model could end up with after all is said and done varies widely.

There is no payment guidebook that tells clients how much they need to pay models for each assignment. What does that mean? It means they can choose whatever amount they want unless they ask the model for his/her preferred rate. But that applies to freelance models only. Agency represented models don't have a say in what they'll get paid--it is the agency's job to negotiate on behalf of the model to get the highest, most fair rate.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, this brief post has a lot of variables in it. Nothing is set in stone and nothing is really all that clear cut. Why is that, you ask? The good news is you'll get an answer to that very question in part 2 of this 3-part series. Stay tuned!

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