Irina Proskurina: How Much Does It Cost To Become A Model In The USA?

16 // 10 // 2020

If you want to radically change your life and are ready to become a model, even a top model or a supermodel in the USA, you should thoroughly prepare for this and calculate all expenses.

Visa and tickets

The first step is to get a visa. You can apply for it yourself and only pay the application fee of $160, or contact a company providing visa services to get it done professionally. In the latter case, you should add another $100 to $500 for their services.

Also, add the cost of travel to the U.S. Embassy located in Kyiv for the interview on a scheduled day to your expenses.

When the visa is ready, you can buy a plane ticket that usually costs around $800-$900. You might also find something cheaper for around $600, but then your trip will last at least 24 hours and will have three stops. It is better to purchase a round-trip ticket. First off, it is cheaper and if you have a tourist visa, it will raise less questions from the airport customs officer. A return ticket suggests that the tourist is going to return home and will not remain in the USA.


If you are already a model, then you can live for free in a model apartment. This will significantly cut your expenses. Or, if you have some friends in the United States, you can stay with them for a while.

If neither of these is an option, you can choose from hostels, hotels, rooms, and apartments. If you are coming to New York, the best strategy is to first rent a hostel for $50-$70 per night, since a hotel is much more expensive. Then start looking for another place to live. That is, at least, what I did back then.

The cheapest option – a bed in a shared room – costs $350-$400 per month. Having a separate room will cost you $750 and above.

Renting a studio apartment will cost you at least $900, and a one-bedroom apartment – $1,200 and above. Please, bear in mind that we are talking about any New York City area except for Manhattan, where all prices are much higher. I recommend you start in Brooklyn.


A lot of money is spent on food, but in the USA, there are a lot of fast food restaurants that can save you money. There is a huge number of eateries in New York, ranging from street cafes to the world’s best restaurants.

Therefore, here you can keep your monthly food budget of $100-$200, or you can spend the same amount at one visit to a restaurant.

Where does the money go so fast?

When you come to any new city, you need money for literally everything – just imagine, you need to organize your life from scratch. If in addition you do not have good health insurance, you will have to pay a lot for medical services and treatments in case you get sick.

Although I went through all these stages and problems and had this experience, my favorite statement is, “You don’t need to spend less, just earn more”. Having a lot of work will let you pay the expenses and live well and comfortably. New York is the perfect place to make money.

There are, of course, some financial risks. Therefore, upon arrival, you need to immediately find an additional part-time job. Devote the rest of your time to building a modeling career. I worked half the day as a hostess in a restaurant earning $15 an hour. Then I ran to auditions or photo shoots, and in the evenings, I studied at a language school, and later also went to college.

In order to avoid an unpleasant situation when your expenses exceed financial resources, you need to avoid any extra purchases at first. For example, do not buy cosmetics and clothes in the beginning. Put such purchases off until later. You can cook at home, it’s cheaper than eating out. Use the subway, not a taxi.

In the beginning, it will definitely be difficult for anyone. However, the main thing is to not give up in a month. Therefore, in addition to financial education and background, you need to be prepared mentally. Do not be afraid to take risks.

A good knowledge of the English language is of course desirable, but it is not a must. Many people do not speak English which makes their lives difficult, but they still live in the U.S. for many years and do not learn the language. In the United States, professionals are appreciated, so the more diplomas and certificates you have, the better. But even all this is not necessary, since here they have democracy.


Most people are interested in whether such expenses are recouped after signing modelling contracts. Different models earn amounts of money. This depends both on the appearance, years in the business and the activity of a person.

A model can earn $30 an hour for a promotional job, or $150-$200 an hour for an informal event. Let’s say it is a ‘lunch-in’, when restaurant visitors are eating while models are walking past the tables wearing the new collection items. Such an event is usually a part of medical fundraising or fundraising for children.

If you are a model having fashion catalog shoots, then for one such project you can earn $500 or more. Global brands can pay $10,000-$15,000 for one video. But, of course, such fees make the competition quite strong.

If we are to talk about top models or super models, those have a totally different level of earnings. For example, Candice Swanepoel, the Victoria’s Secret Angel, earned $7,000,000 in one year.

Irina Proskurina, Founder of Forma Models Agency, New York