Survival Jobs for Aspiring Fashion and Commercial Models

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Deciding to become a model is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do. But, early on, paying your bills while pursuing your career is often easier said than done.

For one, modeling schedules can be unpredictable. The hours are strange, the locations are always changing, and you have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. You also won’t see a paycheck right away. It can take 60 to 90 days to get paid for a job, or even longer if you don’t have a modeling agency looking after your best interests. Building up your reputation and landing high-paying jobs takes time. It’s unusual for a model to earn tons of cash early in their career, so you have to be smart and resourceful until you make a name for yourself.

And for many models, that means one thing: a second job. Most models have a part-time job, or even a full-time day job to help with cash flow. The trick is finding one that doesn’t get in the way of your modeling aspirations.

Substitute Teacher

Aaron Marcus, a professional commercial model and coach with decades of industry experience, said in his blog that one of the best survival jobs for models is substitute teaching. It’s a part-time gig that allows you to pick and choose when you want to work, and it pays pretty well. If you can get enough of these teaching jobs, you’ll have no problem paying your bills while still having time to model on the side. 

Every state is a little different in terms of educational requirements—some require you to have a college diploma, while some don’t—so be sure to check your local school system for more details.

Makeup Artist

If you’re particularly talented and passionate about the makeup side of the modeling industry, then you might want to explore the option of becoming a part-time makeup artist. This job gives you the flexibility to choose when you work, where you work, and whom you work with, but the real perk is that you still get to work within the modeling industry. You’ll be gaining valuable experience and contacts while earning enough money to follow your true passion. 

Fitness Instructor

Yoga, Zumba, coaching, running, swimming, personal training—whatever your exercise of choice, why not get paid for it? It’s a fun and flexible way to earn money and stay fit, and you’ll meet all sorts of interesting people. Who knows? It could even lead to some fitness modeling opportunities.


Are you great with computers and a fast typist? Then you’ll have no problem landing a job with a temp agency. Most temp jobs are low-stress office jobs that allow you to book out for auditions, go-sees, and bookings (within reason, of course). There are tons of temp agencies in major modeling hubs like New York and Los Angeles, and some of them even specialize in the entertainment industry. 

Promotional Worker

Companies are always looking for outgoing and attractive event workers, brand ambassadors, and product demonstrators. One day you could be working at a major concert, and the next hosting a cocktail party at a chic hotel. These types of jobs are often advertised online in places like Craigslist, but to ensure you’re working for legitimate companies in safe environments, it’s always best to work with a professional promo company. A great one to check out is Vantage Advertising. Jobs pay well, and you always have the option to accept or decline any gig you’re offered. 

It's hard work to get your modeling career off the ground. You may have to put together a couple of side jobs for a while. Keep your end goal in mind, and make sure you find work that allows you to keep pursuing your dream.