Electro-absorption modulators, either embedded in CMOS technology or integrated with a semiconductor laser, are of high interest for many applications such as optical communications, signal processing and 3D imaging. Recently, the integration of a surface-normal electro-absorption modulator into a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser has been considered. In this paper we implement a simple quantum well electro-absorption model and design and optimize an asymmetric Fabry-Pérot semiconductor modulator while considering all physical properties within figures of merit. We also extend this model to account for the impact of temperature on the different parameters involved in the calculation of the absorption, such as refractive indices and exciton transition broadening. Two types of vertical modulator structures have been fabricated and experimentally characterized by reflectivity and photocurrent measurements demonstrating a very good agreement with our model. Finally, preliminary results of an electro-absorption modulator vertically integrated with a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser device are presented, showing good modulation performances required for high speed communications.