A program that prepares individuals to present and display fashion, apparel, and accessories products in wholesale and retail settings, either on the person or via props and natural or artificial settings. Includes instruction in modeling skills, health and cosmetic principles, fashion show management, display design and production, and applicable aspects of advertising and fashion photography.

Models put products or ideas on display for various purposes.

Models are the faces of the fashion industry; in fact, they are professional faces across numerous industries that deal with consumer goods and beyond. Things look better when models do them; they may appear in print photographs, live settings, digital media, or video, representing an ideal to the public. Employers may seek out versatile models who can serve as a blank canvas, though increasingly they look for one outstanding or unique feature that will stand out to a viewer.

There are different types of models who work in different parts of the industry, and each type has its own set of requirements and skills.  Runway models appear in live fashion shows, demonstrating the wear and movement of a collection of clothing to an audience. Cosmetic models tend to be photographed from the shoulders up and should have a good range of expressions. Fitness models are athletic and may represent sports-related brands. Art models often work one-on-one with painters, sculptors, or photographers or pose for figurative work in classroom settings. Not all models wind up in the public eye; hand models, for instance, are rarely on camera in any recognizable way, but can make a comfortable living doing product shoots for jewelry or technology. People of all shapes, sizes, and appearances can find work as fit models, helping apparel designers to understand how their clothing will hang on different bodies and adjust the designs accordingly.

Modeling work may include...

  • Attending casting calls and fit tests
  • Posing artistically or with products
  • Representing clients and their products in a positive light
  • Working closely with photographers, makeup artists, and more
  • Maintaining a current portfolio of work

Models are typically freelancers who get booked for individual gigs, though some have part-time jobs or regular clients. Hours can be long and hard to predict, and gigs often get booked last minute. It's common for models to work in various capacities, especially as they build portfolios and find their niche; however, many begin by working with people they know who may be artists, designers, or photographers. Nearly all professional models work with modeling agencies that secure work opportunities for them. However, social media has made it possible for some models to gain followings without formal representation; they may be approached by influencer marketing opportunities offering various perks in exchange for brand promotion. This can turn into its own career path, but some use it to build a branded portfolio that allows them to transition into professional modeling spaces.

Becoming a model takes a combination of luck, skill, and looks. Most models are tall and proportional with appealing or unique features, though different niches within the industry call for various height or builds. Runway models and editorial fashion models tend to wear single-size designer samples, and fitting into these pieces can be the deciding factor in one model's success. As a result, many fashion models strive to achieve certain proportions, though these strict requirements are slowly changing as more advocates begin to display concern for model's health.

There is no educational requirement for modeling, though some participate in training programs or modeling boot camps that can teach vital skills, such as posing for photographs or walking down a runway. Posing is an essential skill; the ability to hold a single position for a given stretch of time without losing control of one's form and expression takes intense focus and muscle. Some models occasionally deliver lines or appear on film, which calls for good memorization, speech, and movement. One of the most essential traits a model can have is patience; modeling calls for long hours in hair and makeup, traveling to specific locations, waiting to be photographed or cued, and endless photoshoots. Networking is essential for models; those who make a positive impression on photographers or designers may be chosen as their next muse.

If you're just waiting to be called a poser for all the right reasons, maybe a career in modeling is your ticket to success.

Model Alliance is a nonprofit that aims to promote fair treatment, equal opportunity, and more sustainable practices in the fashion industry, from the runway to the factory floor.

The International Modeling & Talent Association is a professional association of the finest and most successful modeling and talent training centers in the world.