Businesses produce products and services not just for adults but for kids as well. Subsequently, companies need child models to act as representatives and show off what the companies are doing. Some child models earn nothing at all, but a few beat the odds and are able to land major deals that may pay $100,000 or more.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes child models in its general model category, although child models may not do as many gigs as a professional adult model does. The average compensation for the entire model group is $42,560 per year, as of May 2010. This breaks down to about $20.46 per hour.
The BLS shows a range for models of $19,830 to $60,030 per year, as of May 2010. However, some child models, particularly those who are just starting out, don't make any money at all. They do gigs just to build a portfolio. According to Deborah Skolnik of "Parents" magazine, some child models made $100,000 per year in commercials. The website Modeling for Kids asserts that the income potential for child models in television, film and commercials is virtually unlimited.
Breakdown by Modeling Type
According to Modeling for Kids website, child models make around $70 per hour in photo shoots for magazines, as of 2011, while Skolnik claims magazine editorials pay $25 to $75 per hour. Modeling for Kids places the rate for advertisements between $1,000 and $1,200 per day, while Skolnik says the catalog rate is $75 per hour. Skolnik also says that product package modeling pays kids around $125 per hour, while commercials can range anywhere from $475 to $100,000, depending on the scale on which the commercial airs and for how long.
Other Factors That Influence Pay
Some child model employers pay the parents and guardians of the child model an additional fee for chaperoning, as well as for travel expenses. These are not guaranteed, however, and usually are fairly small. Child models, similar to adult models, may have agents. If the child model has an agent, then the agent will take a cut of the earnings, usually around 20 percent.
Because children have other commitments, such as school, most do only two or three jobs a month, with young kids working only about two hours at a time, according to Skolnik. This means that even though there technically is no cap on what a child model can earn, logistically, even if a child were to get the average of two gigs a month that both paid at least $100,000 -- this is not very likely, as only the best child models land these agreements -- pay would top out at around $2.4 million per year.
Most child models do modeling as a fun hobby, and many parents and guardians end up putting the money in trusts or college savings funds. Parents and guardians interested in getting their child into child modeling should be aware that a large percentage of child modeling jobs and agencies are scams.