Let me give you the bad news first and get it over with. Among 100′s of modeling agencies in the country only few agencies live up-to the hype. Mainly agencies can be separated into three tiers.
A common theme in the entertainment industry are the fakers, there are so many wannabe artists and its same in the modeling agency too. Fakers can be easily identified by the lack of standards in recruiting models. They will be mainly worried about the initial fee a model has to pay to join an agency. These agencies wont take the time to know you better and don’t discuss with what type of modeling is better for your career. So vary about these pretenders and stay away from them as much as possible.
Majority of the modeling agencies belongs to the medium category. They do have genuine work and most of them will be trying to go the next level. They have work but may not be consistent with it. They recruit models through network, publicists, websites and references. Most of the contract are not exclusive but sometimes they will push you to find exclusive contracts with them. Think before you sign an exclusive modeling agency.
But if you are signed up for a job and in case you fail to make up for the appointment, some agencies will fine you and even cancel the contract if they fail to keep their client happy. Always understand that everyone has a boss and its your job to keep your appointment. No one like to work with unprofessional people.
Modeling agencies working with high end designers, world class magazines and fortune 500 companies belongs the elite category of modeling agency. They almost always work exclusive with a a model, unless of course you are very famous. But to be on the model catalog of these agencies is extremely competitive. Requirements by top class agencies are almost always: you must be at least five feet and nine ‘(female) and five feet eleven’ (men) of rare beauty and of slender build for females. Only 2-5% of all models in the industry make up this standard, so it represents a small minority.
A contract should have the remuneration to the model as well as the agency if its on a commission based contract. Its better to have the perfect understanding of the amount you receive before a campaign. Some agency deduct the amount to build a portfolio, training, travel expense and accommodation. This is normal and deducted from your pay check.
Best of luck finding a great modeling agency and a prosperous modeling career.