Model Rates

What are the rates a model should be getting? Is there a standard and does it depend on your region of the USA or abroad?

I wish there was an industry standard across the board for models, but we do not have a union or a check and balance system in places such as SAG, AFTRA, or AEA; which provide protection for entertainers. Instead, models or our agents set forth a rate at which we work.

There are “typical” rates, such as in NYC, for plus-size models.

A typical rate for a fit or showroom model is approximately $200-$300 an hour. Add on the agent’s fee of 20% and your client is paying $240-$360 an hour, with your take-home pay being $160-$260 an hour.

Print models can make anywhere from $100 an hour to $5,000 or more for the day, depending upon the gig type, of course, and how good you or your agent is at negotiating a rate.

Now for those of you outside NYC, rates can range anywhere from free (working for prints or TFP “time for prints”) to whatever the company is willing to pay.

My personal experience for print jobs outside of NYC; from companies who do web shoots or catalogs is to start the offer at $30 an hour. When I first started I needed the experience and tear sheets or prints to build my book so I agreed. When I had a year or two under my belt and became business savvy, I negotiated a higher price. I usually received what I wanted, but I had a comp card, representation, and a strong model book to warrant my demand for higher pay.

When and if you feel you are being taken advantage of, you can always negotiate your model rate.

You are the product. It can be liberating when you have to turn down work because the company refuses to pay what you are worth. With this being said, you need to take a hard look at where you stand in the industry.

  • Are you just starting out?
  • Is this a hobby that you are hoping turns into a part-time or full-time career?
  • Are you an experienced model with years of tears and clients under your belt?

In NYC, it can be easy to figure out if a rate will work for you because you know what you need to make in order to live or to reinvest into your modeling career.

For those of you outside of NYC, here are some questions you need to ask yourself before you settle on a price:

  1. How will I get to the job? If I have a car, how much gas money will you need to get there and back? If I don’t have a car will they pay for my train, bus, or air ticket? What about lodging if the gig is out of state or country?
  2. Do I need to provide my own makeup and hair styling or clothing?
  3. Do I have an agent and if so are they booking me through my agent and are they paying the 20% fee on top of the negotiated rate? For those of you signed and you book without an agent, read your contract because most agents deserve and demand their fee regardless if they booked you the gig or not.
  4. Will they provide me breakfast or lunch if the shoot or gig will be taking place during those hours?
  5. Can I use images from this shoot for my own personal use?

Now, answer all the questions above and see if the rate will still leave you with a profit after you pay your transportation, food, etc. If you live close to the gig site and you are doing this as a hobby, then take the job! If you end up paying more to get out to the gig site than the job is paying, then say no or negotiate for a higher rate and explain why if you feel it’s necessary.

An example: “I know you mentioned a rate of $40 an hour for a two-hour gig, but the train ticket costs $32 round trip. If you include the price of the ticket along with the $80, then I agree to the rate.” In other words, why would you pay a company to model for them? However, if you know the images will be clean and useful for your comp card or book and you need them, then this gig is actually an inexpensive way for you to get new shots.

Be smart, do your research, and don’t sell yourself short. Know your market. All this know-how will help you to become the best business savvy model you can be!