The modeling profession usually involves fierce competition. Fashion models walk the runway at high-fashion shows, and pose for advertisements and other photo shoots, and sometimes demonstrate clothing, accessories and other items in retail settings. Artistic models may pose for photos, paintings or sculptures. Hourly wages have the potential to be high, particularly for supermodels and other types of models who are highly sought after. However, most models may not work on a daily basis, with some jobs only lasting a few hours.
The mean hourly wage for models was $17.51 and the mean annual wage, or average salary, was $36,420, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Median annual wages for models ranged from approximately $16,780 to $55,360. The lowest 10 percent of employees earn less than $16,780 and the top 10 percent of employees earn more than $55,360.
In 2008, models held approximately 2,200 jobs, with 18 percent who were self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Colleges, universities and professional schools employed the largest number of models, with an average salary of $28,460 in May 2009. Junior colleges paid $37,060 on average. Such jobs are most likely for artistic models.
California paid the highest average salary above all other states to models, at $42,180, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Other states where models received high pay were: Colorado, $39,640; Ohio, $38,110; Washington, $29,570; and Michigan, $28,210.
Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas
Salaries for models varied across metropolitan areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Metropolitan areas may stretch across multiple states. Models in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California metropolitan area were paid an average salary of $40,820 in May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Models in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California Metropolitan Division were paid $35,510. Models in the St. Louise, Montana-Illinois metropolitan area were paid $28,630.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national employment for models is expected to increase at a rate of 16 percent from 2008 through 2018. Models will face tough competition because of the small number of job openings and large number of applicants, especially for fashion work. The diversity of the population will boost the demands for more diverse racial and ethnic models. Work for male models will also grow. However, women usually earn more than men for similar work. Keep in mind that most models experience times of unemployment and that fashion models generally work with an agent.