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The Average Salary of a Male Model

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The modeling profession is one of the only places where men make less than women. While most ordinary people know the names Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen or Kendall Jenner, many would be hard-pressed to produce the name of a famous male model. The rise of the male fashion industry may change that. Expected to reach $33 billion by 2020, the menswear market is growing faster than women's wear and the luxury market. Lists of top male models are growing longer with salaries over the $1 million mark. Alas, however, most male and female models make much more modest salaries.

Male Model Job Description

Models are used to advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food and appliances. There are runway models who wear a designer's clothes and model them in front of clients on a runway. There are print models whose photos are taken for magazines and other advertising material and fit or fitting models who enable the manufacturer or fashion designer to achieve the best fit for new styles.

Education and Training

There is no formal education required in order to become a model. Many models leave school to travel the world and model while they are still teenagers. There are, however, guidelines when it comes to height. The majority of agencies that sign on fashion/runway male models require a height of 5-feet-10-inches-to-6-feet-2-inches tall. And you can be too tall to be a male model. Anyone over 6-feet-3-inches tall may have a hard time finding work. Many of the top male models have been discovered on Instagram, YouTube and other social media websites.

Salaries Vary Widely

In May of 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median hourly wage for models at $11.01. While the lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.17, the highest 10 percent earned more than $23.78. These numbers apply to all models, men and women, and the amount doesn't sound very glamorous. But this is the median where half earn more and half earn less than $11.01. So, how much do male models make? A sampling of ads for male models in December 2018 offered a variety of salaries: $25-$45/hour, $40-$60/day, and $150 for a 45-minute photo session.

It's the models who get big contracts whose earnings begin to skyrocket. Still, the female model salary is a great deal more than the male model salary, even at the top. Sean O'Pry, the top-earning male model for several years, had an annual estimated salary in 2017 of $1.5 million. Right behind him was David Gandy at $1.4 million. Also in 2017, Kendall Jenner became the highest-paid model, earning $22 million, while Bundchen made $17.5 million.

About the Industry

From 2016 to 2026, employment of all models is projected to show little or no change. With businesses shifting away from print, online advertising will have to replace some of those lucrative magazine shoots. Traditional models are also being crowded out by well know film stars and Instagram and YouTube personalities. It's no longer always enough to have a pretty face. Advertisers want you to have a following, too.

Being a model sounds exciting and glamorous, but it often entails long hours of holding uncomfortable positions in all kinds of environments, and only a few models make it into the highest-paying echelon. And if you're a male model, your odds are even slimmer of earning a high salary.


Heather Skyler is a journalist and novelist who has written for wide variety of publications, including Newsweek, The New York Times and SKY magazine.

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