Did you know that modeling agencies in Massachusetts must be licensed by the Division of Occupational Safety?

Modeling agencies must be licensed as employment agencies under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140, ss. 46A-46R. An employment agency is defined by Massachusetts state law as any person or business that engages in recruiting or placing employees in temporary or permanent employment or engagements for a fee.

Modeling agencies must receive a license from the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) in order to lawfully operate in our state.

In order to receive a license from DLS, an agency must complete an application that establishes their legitimacy as a business entity; the license applicant must prove that s/he is a person of good moral character; the agency manager must demonstrate experience or qualifications to engage in worker placement activities; the applicant must submit a surety bond payable to the "People of the Commonwealth"; and DLS performs a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check on the agency owner. Applicants must attend a hearing on their initial application, and DLS Compliance Officers conduct routine inspections of licensed agencies. The Employment Agency Law is designed to protect workers from unscrupulous business practices and safeguard their earnings.

If you're looking to become a model, or if you are already signed with an agency, be informed about the modeling industry:

  • Agencies make their money when they secure work for their models. It is illegal in Massachusetts for any agency to charge a registration fee to a model or prospective model.
  • Agencies are allowed to take a fee from the model for each job assignment the agency finds for the model. The gross fee taken from the model per job assignment cannot exceed 10% in Massachusetts.
  • Aspiring models do not need large and expensive photo packages or portfolios. Beware of companies that try to sell you expensive photo packages, and beware of agencies that steer you to a specific photographer or "comp card" printer. You have the right to compare fees and work quality of several photographers and printers.
  • Aspiring models do not necessarily need to attend schools, classes, or receive "training" in order to sign with an agency. If you have a look that is appealing to an agency, they will often invest the time to educate you about how to perform for particular modeling work such as runway, print advertising, promotional work, etc.
  • It is unlawful for an agency to require any model (or aspiring model) to subscribe to any publication or incidental service or contribute to the cost of advertising.
  • Many scouting events, conventions, and competitions cost money for participation, but understand that you are not guaranteed to be signed with an agency and are not guaranteed work.
  • Many legitimate, licensed agencies have open calls that are free and open to anyone interested in modeling. You will often get an honest assessment about your potential for work in the industry by attending open calls...and it won't cost you any money!
  • Beware of companies that charge fees to post your pictures on the internet or operate solely as online modeling sites. Industry experts and reputable, established agencies tell us that clients who need models for various types of work do not "surf the net" looking through tens of thousands of photographs to find their models. In addition, you may be giving yourself unwanted exposure to people who have questionable motivations for contacting you.
  • Make sure you only deal with licensed modeling agencies. Licensed agencies are required by Massachusetts law to post their licenses in their agencies.
  • Read an Advisory from the Federal Trade Commission called, " If You've Got The Look, Look Out! Avoiding Modeling Scams." View the entire advisory at: www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/services/model.htm .

Please note:

Modeling agencies in Massachusetts are regulated by the Department of Labor Standards (DLS).

Modeling and acting schools in Massachusetts are regulated by the Department of Education (DOE) (Proprietary Schools).

Theatrical booking agents are regulated by the Department of Public Safety (DPS).