Education and Training Requirements

High School

There are no standard educational requirements for models. Most employers of photographic models prefer at least a high school education. Courses such as sewing, family and consumer science, and photography are helpful. Classes in dance, fencing, Asian arts such as tai chi, and other studies that focus on body and movement control provide a good foundation for modeling. Public speaking and business courses are helpful since models often work as freelancers.

Postsecondary Training

Many employers of models state a preference for college graduates with the ability to communicate well and with a general cultural background. Academic courses may include art, drama, art history, photography, history, English, speech, or debate. Some models take special courses in sports or physical fitness, such as dance, swimming, skiing, skating, aerobics, or horseback riding to get into and stay in shape and develop physical coordination, suppleness, and grace. As models often keep track of their own expenses, a basic knowledge of bookkeeping and mathematics also is helpful.

Some models attend modeling schools, but the quality of these institutions vary greatly. Entering a reputable modeling school to learn the skills and techniques of modeling or enrolling in a good charm school to learn makeup application, appropriate clothing, and the proper ways to walk and stand are also helpful and can be a shortcut into the business.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for models.

Other Requirements

There are significant differences in the requirements necessary for each type of model. The major requirement for the fashion model is, of course, physical appearance. Although most people think of all models as being young and slender, that is not necessarily the case. No set standard exists for a model's physical description because many different body types are needed. Many garment manufacturers seek female fashion models who are between the ages of 16 and 30, between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 11 inches in height and wear from a size six to a size 10. Male models generally must be between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 inches in height and wear a size 40 or 42 regular suit. People who fail to meet these specifications, however, should not feel that there are no possibilities for them in this career; after all, garments and other fashion items are made for people of all sizes and types. Also, atypical models who do not necessarily possess classical model features, proportions, or body types, but display interesting or unusual personal style, increasingly are being seen on runways and in photo advertisements, reflecting designer, commercial, and public acceptance of cultural and physical diversity and individual expression in fashion.

Because some fashion houses create styles for people of middle years whose weight is closer to average, more mature looking models sometimes are needed. Other firms that specialize in evening clothes often require models of above average height to display their garments. Companies that produce junior sizes require models who can wear those sizes without alterations. Those that manufacture misses' or women's sizes may seek models who can wear sizes 8, 10, or 12. They also may seek full-figured models who wear sizes 14 or larger. Petite models are 5 feet 5 inches and wear uneven sizes such as three, five, and seven.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any modeling experience you can obtain via school or local fashion shows, community modeling contests, or other events will provide useful preparation for the field. 

The basic requirement for photographers' models is that they photograph well. It must be emphasized, however, that not all attractive people have the qualities that commercial photographers require. Many times characteristics such as wholesomeness and sincerity, as well as freshness of face or manner, are as important in this field as good looks.

Modeling is a particularly fatiguing occupation because it requires many hours of standing and walking, or sitting or standing still in uncomfortable positions. Thus, good health and physical stamina are important. In addition, those people interested in being fashion or photographic models must be prepared to give up most of their social life and limit their diets. To maintain their figures and appearances, they will require many extra hours of sleep each night and will need to avoid rich foods and beverages.

Another important requirement is immaculate grooming. Fashion and photographic models will have to spend more hours than the average person taking care of their skin, hair, nails, and general physical fitness. Especially important to fashion models is the ability to walk gracefully while carrying their hands, arms, and torso in a poised and chic manner.

Most fashion and photographers' models must have special training to meet all of the above requirements. Entering a reputable modeling school to learn the skills and techniques of modeling or enrolling in a good charm school to learn makeup application, appropriate clothing, and the proper ways to walk and stand are also helpful for entry into this business.