How to Become a Male Model

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Whether you dream of strutting your stuff on the runway, giving your best Blue Steel impression in a fashion editorial, or repping your favorite protein powder, the path to becoming a male model isn’t as easy as getting paid to be your gorgeous self. To break into the industry, aspiring models must refine their talents, build a portfolio, and find representation. Keep reading to learn more about how to become a male model.


What is a male model?

Male model posing by a carkiuikson/Shutterstock

A male model is a professional who is paid to promote and advertise products and services aimed primarily at men and masculine-presenting people such as clothing, food, medication, vehicles, and gym memberships.

What do male models do?

Male model at a

A male model poses and presents different positions and movements for photographers, videographers, or live audiences. They use their look, personality, and physical capabilities to create the specific images desired by clients that include: 

  • Brands
  • Clothing designers
  • Fashion magazines
  • Fitness companies
  • Automobile makers
  • Travel companies
  • Art photographers
  • Medical suppliers

Some social-first male models, such as Lucky Blue Smith and Pietro Boselli, capture many of their own images and get paid to promote products on social media.

What does it take to be a male model?

Male model posing in a living roomG-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

  • The right look: Since modeling is all about capturing and enticing the gaze, an attractive look and appealing physique is key. Except for specialty gigs, a male model usually needs to be at least 5’10”. Measurements for male models vary, but you’ll generally need to fit the proportions for your desired modeling type. 
  • Perseverance: Breaking into modeling requires tenacity and a willingness to grind. “A male model has to be psychologically strong—there’s a lot of rejection,” model and “Britain’s Next Top Model” judge Max Rogers told FashionBeans. “Even at this stage in my career, I have quiet months. You have to accept that you’re either right for a job or not, and that the whole process is just a matter of someone’s opinion.”
  • Communication: Marketing—and therefore modeling—is all about communication. Be prepared to actively listen to requests from industry professionals so you can properly advertise their products. Strong communication skills will also help you retain clients. “You want it so that everyone, whether it’s the craft service guy, tailor, designer, or art director, feels great after a day of work,” John Pearson, often called the first male supermodel, told Vogue. “And when that happens, after everyone feels good, nine times out of 10, they want you back.” Be kind, courteous, and open to everyone you work with to inspire future collaboration.
  • Adaptability: Much of modeling is improvisational, so you need the ability to adapt quickly to new situations and locations. Be prepared to change your schedule, your travel plans, and even your look.
  • Confidence: Models should have confidence in themselves and their look, which then translates to confidence on camera and the catwalk. 
  • Passion: If you’re excited about the industry and interested in furthering your capabilities, you’ll be more likely to succeed as a male model.

Types of male models

Male model being photographed while holding a cell phoneGeorge Rudy/Shutterstock

Male modeling encompasses a vast array of jobs, each suited to a specific look and skill set. Each type traditionally corresponded with certain male model requirements—although fashion standards are changing, allowing for more diverse representation than ever before. Even if you don’t fit these precise measurements, it doesn’t mean you can’t book work. 

  • Fashion/editorial model: If it’s your dream to be on the cover of GQ, in the pages of Esquire, and on your way to becoming a household name, you may be interested in editorial modeling for high fashion shoots. These gigs usually entail highly curated aesthetic images that reflect a certain mood and are used to market a brand or product. Generally, male fashion/editorial models are 6’ to 6’5”, wear a size 40–42 top, and have a 32-inch waist. Shoe size may vary, but it is usually between size 9 and 12. 
  • Runway model: Runway models advertise a clothing designer or brand by walking in fashion shows. As walking advertisements, they must fit stringent measurements so that they properly showcase the clothing. Runway models are usually at least 6’ to 6’3”, wear a 40 to 42 top, and have a 32-inch waist or smaller. 
  • Commercial model: Commercial models promote products and services that aren’t high fashion. They might appear in TV ads or print publications to advertise everyday products such as watches, ready-to-wear clothing, and food. These models don’t need to meet the stringent requirements of editorial or runway models. However, while a commercial model can be any size and height, they tend to be at least 5’10” tall. 
  • Fitness model: Fitness models might work to advertise fitness companies, supplements, magazines, and athletic wear. They might appear in print or TV advertisements or in promotional videos. Most male fitness models are at least 6’ tall with a great physique—whether that means lean and lithe or a bulging bodybuilder. Either way, visible muscles are key. (Although they are sometimes confused, a fitness model differs from a fit model—a living mannequin used to check the fit of an outfit.)
  • Parts model: If your best asset is your hands, feet, or eyes, you might consider a career as a parts model. These models advertise products and services using specific body parts. Whatever part you’re hoping to model must be well-proportioned and attractive.
  • Plus-size model: The modeling industry is becoming more diverse, reflecting a greater variety of body shapes and sizes. Part of this is the rise of the plus-size male model, who usually promotes clothing for larger sizes. Depending on the client, plus-size models will generally need to have a chest larger than 42 inches.

How much do male models make?

Male model posing in front of a white backgroundwavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

As of August 2022, male models in the United States made between $10,094 and $254,999, with an average salary of $49,309, according to Comparably. Models working in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Miami can typically earn higher wages. Since they are usually independent contractors, most models are not currently covered by union protections for minimum earnings; however, organizations such as the Model Alliance seek to promote fair practices in the industry.

Steps to becoming a male model

1. Figure out your niche

Take some time to consider your specific look, body type, and skill set to figure out which medium and specialty you’re best suited to. Are you a gym rat? Fitness modeling might be the way to go. Can you cut diamonds on your cheekbones? Consider fashion modeling. If you’re not sure about your type, you can try looking for working models who fit your aesthetic and see what type of gigs they’re booking. You could also try asking modeling agents if they accept appointments for professional appraisals of your type and potential as a male model.

2. Create a modeling portfolio

Craft an appealing, high-quality modeling portfolio showcasing your best looks and skill sets. Your portfolio should include a professional headshot, body shot, black-and-white shot, creative shot, location shot, and closing shot. Be sure to also include your personal stats (age, hair and eye color, and body measurements), professional summary, and contact info.

3. Practice your poses

Like any art, modeling takes a lot of practice to perfect. Research images and videos of male models in your niche and practice their angles, expressions, and poses. Conduct test shoots and ask for feedback from friends and any industry contacts to see if you’re hitting the mark with your own modeling poses.

4. Promote yourself

You can be the most attractive man in the world but even that won’t get you any modeling gigs if people don’t know about you. The best way to get yourself seen is by getting agency representation. You can also find modeling jobs and make a name for yourself by using:

  • Social media: Follow and interact with other male models, relevant brands, agencies, and designers. Post images of yourself across social media accounts and use hashtags such as #malemodel, #model, #mensfashion, #fitnessmodel, #malemodels, #menstyle, #fashionmodel,  #malephotography, and #menswear to gain exposure.
  • Freelance model sites: Join sites such as Model Management and Model Mayhem so potential clients can learn about your look and abilities.
  • Casting calls: Browse our comprehensive modeling auditions and casting calls database to discover commercial, print, fashion, fit, and event modeling gigs.

5. Get representation

Attend open calls, which is when an agency allows anyone to come in and audition. If you and your look impress an agent enough, you might be signed that same day. You can also attend model searches and send a brief intro and digital images to modeling agencies to see if any of them bite. Just be sure to do your research to ensure that the modeling agency is legitimate and open to submissions beforehand. Remember, a reputable agency will never ask for fees from the outset—not for bookings, not for headshots, and not to get work.

Famous male models

The following male models exude confidence, dedication to the craft, and charm: 

Jordan Barrett

Known for his runway and editorial work for Versace and Tommy Hilfiger, the IMG-signed Barrett was the 2015 Breakout Model of the Year and the GQ Man of Style Award recipient. 

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Tyson Beckford

After modeling for a music magazine, Beckford became the face of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport campaign and gained representation by Soul Artist Management. He was VH1’s Man of the Year, one of People’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, and is considered the first Black male supermodel. 

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Armando Cabral

Cabral’s modeling experience includes work with H&M, J.Crew, Balmain, and GQ. He is signed with Wilhelmina and now has his own footwear line.

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David Gandy

After winning a televised modeling competition, Gandy worked with 7 for All Mankind, Hugo Boss, and H&M and became the face of Dolce & Gabbana. You may recognize him from the Dolce & Gabbana “Light Blue” ad campaign. He is represented by Select Model Management

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Brad Kroenig

The muse of Karl Lagerfeld, Kroenig modeled for Chanel, Fendi, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Michael Kors—even working alongside supermodel Naomi Campbell. He is signed with Ford

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Alton Mason

After starting his career as a dancer, Mason became a runway model for Gucci, Michael Kors, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton, and was the first Black male model to walk for Chanel. He was named model of the year by GQ Australia and one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30. Mason works through IMG. 

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Zach Miko

When IMG signed Miko in 2016, he became the agency’s first plus-size male model. Since then, he’s modeled for Dolce & Gabbana and Belk and opened a clothing line with plus-size options. 

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Mark Vanderloo

Vanderloo not only inspired the name of “professionally good-looking” model Derek Zoolander, he also worked with Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Valentino, Armani, and Gucci. Signed to Wilhelmina, he was named male model of the year by VH1 in 1995. 

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Nathan Westling

Westling starred in several big-name ad campaigns, including Marc Jacobs and Saint Laurent Paris, before coming out as a transgender man. Since then, he has worked as a male model for clients including British Vogue, Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton, and Michael Kors. He is signed by the Agency Arizona.

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