June 20, 2024
This article explores the different types of models and their earnings potential. It discusses the salaries of top models such as Kendall Jenner, the gender pay gap in the modeling industry, and alternative ways for models to make money. The article also provides practical advice for aspiring models on how to negotiate for fair payment and grow their business.


The modeling industry is notoriously difficult to break into, but it can also be an incredibly lucrative career for those who make it big. From high-end fashion shows to commercial ads and Instagram influencer partnerships, models can earn a wide range of salaries depending on their experience, type of modeling, and level of fame. Understanding how much money models can make is important for aspiring models, industry professionals, and anyone interested in the world of fashion and marketing.

The modeling industry encompasses many different types of models, including but not limited to runway models, commercial models, and Instagram models. While each type of model has its unique earning potential and challenges, there are some general guidelines we can look to when discussing how much money models make. In this article, we will explore each type of model and their earning potential in more detail.

Understanding the Modeling Industry

Before we dive into the specifics of model earnings, let’s first examine what it means to be a model and the different types of modeling categories.

In the broadest sense, a model is someone who showcases and promotes products, services, or fashion items using their physical appearance and professional skills. Modeling as a profession can be split into several categories, including runway, commercial, print, and Instagram modeling.

While each type of modeling has unique criteria and requirements, most models are hired through agencies and management companies. These agencies represent the models and negotiate with clients on contract terms and payment. Models can be paid hourly, daily, or on a per-project basis. Rates vary depending on experience, location, and type of modeling.

In the modeling industry, there are various key terms and jargon that are important to understand. A model’s portfolio, for example, is a collection of their best photographs that showcase their modeling abilities. A comp card is a physical card or digital portfolio that contains a selection of a model’s best headshots and basic information used by agencies and casting directors.

Earnings of Various Kinds of Models

The earning potential of a model can vary depending on a variety of factors such as experience, location, and the type of modeling they specialize in. Here is an overview of the average earnings of different types of models:

Runway Models

Runway models are those who walk the catwalk during fashion shows showcasing clothing and accessories. According to industry reports, beginner runway models typically earn around $100 to $200 per show, while established models can earn upwards of $20,000 per show or more.

Experienced runway models also have the potential to earn income from other sources such as brand partnerships, music videos, and advertising campaigns, which can significantly boost their earnings.

Pros of being a runway model include the excitement of travel, glamorous lifestyle, and the potential to become a household name. However, runway modeling can also be physically demanding, require a lot of travel, and the pay can be inconsistent.

Commercial Models

Commercial models promote products or services in print ads, television commercials, and other types of advertising campaigns. They are typically seen in lifestyle and product-focused imagery. According to industry reports, commercial models can earn anywhere from $100 to $1,500 per day depending on the project and their level of experience.

One of the benefits of commercial modeling is the regular work opportunities as modeling gigs in this category are more frequent than those in runway modeling. Additionally, commercial models do not have to meet strict physical requirements as their counterparts in high-end fashion modeling.

Instagram Models

With the rise of social media, the new breed of Instagram models has emerged. These models have created a massive following on Instagram and other social media platforms, which they leverage to land modeling gigs and sponsored content partnerships.

Earnings for Instagram models can vary widely and can range from a few hundred dollars per post to millions in annual income. According to industry reports, some of the top Instagram models such as Kylie Jenner and Gigi Hadid can make up to $1 million per sponsored post.

Being an Instagram model can be glamorous, flexible, and offer a wider range of income streams. On the downside, gaining traction as an Instagram model requires significant effort, creating and sustaining a substantial and engaged following, and competition is high.

The Salaries of Top Models

Top models like Kendall Jenner, Gisele Bundchen, and Kate Moss can earn millions per year in addition to their traditional modeling gigs. One reason top models make so much money is the lucrative brand partnerships they forge with various companies.

For example, Kendall Jenner has worked with brands like Calvin Klein, Estee Lauder, and Adidas and was the highest-paid model in the world in 2018, earning approximately $22.5 million. Gisele Bundchen has also forged successful partnerships with brands like Chanel, Versace, and Louis Vuitton and has an estimated net worth of $400 million.

The Gender Pay Gap in Modeling

Despite the seemingly lucrative earnings of top models, the modeling industry has a significant gender pay gap. Female models are often paid less than male models for the same type of work, and their salaries peak earlier in their careers than male models. This is typically due to modeling agencies and brands preferentially selecting male models as they are seen as more versatile and in higher demand.

The gender pay gap can negatively affect both male and female models. Male models who do not fit traditional standards may lose out on job offers for fear of appearing too feminine. Meanwhile, female models may be pressured into accepting less pay in exchange for more work, or to accept disadvantages like having to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses at fashion shows.

Factors Affecting a Model’s Earning Potential

A model’s earning potential is influenced by several factors, including location, experience, body type, and representation. Here are some of the key factors that can help models increase their earnings:


While models can make money at any stage of their career, experienced models often earn more than beginners. Experienced models typically have valuable industry connections and more extensive portfolios that showcase their range.


A model’s location can also have a significant impact on their earnings. Large modeling markets like London, Milan, Paris, and New York offer more significant opportunities and higher rates.


Having representation from a respected modeling agency can open up new doors and opportunities for models, leading to higher-paid gigs.

Alternative Ways for Models to Make Money

While traditional modeling gigs are often the most lucrative income stream, there are other ways for models to make money in the industry. Instagram modeling, as we previously discussed, is a popular alternative income stream, but there are also paid influencer gigs, speaking opportunities, and product collaborations.

Advice for Aspiring Models

For those aspiring to become professional models, it is essential to understand the industry and learn how to negotiate for fair payment. Here are some practical tips to help aspiring models navigate the industry:

Research the Industry

Before jumping into modeling, aspiring models should research the industry, learn its terms and jargon, and understand the various types of modeling categories.

Get Representation

Working with reputable modeling agencies will help increase the opportunities for modeling gigs and, in turn, increase earnings.

Be Professional

Professionalism is key when working as a model, as reputation and behavior can affect the opportunities and earnings potential.


In conclusion, the modeling industry offers exciting and lucrative career opportunities for those who make it, but it also requires dedicated effort and experience. Understanding the various types of modeling categories, earning potentials, and tips for negotiation is vital for aspiring and established models. An ideal strategy for models is to explore and develop alternative income streams. Understanding the gender pay gap and steps to solve it is equally important for the long-term health of the modeling industry.

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