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What’s a Reasonable Salary for an Internship?

Updated: May 10, 2019

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As you consider internships, you’re probably wondering whether your expectations for salary are realistic. I mean, you’re not looking for a Google internship salary, but you’d love to get paid well. What’s reasonable?

Let’s talk about what the research says about average intern salaries and a few factors that can impact where your salary is likely to fall. You’ll have a much better idea of what to expect when it comes time to apply for internships.

Should I expect a salary?

Truthfully, you’ve got about a 50/50 shot. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that 56.7% of internships were paid, up from 51.3% in 2011. The trend for paying interns is increasing, but it’s not a sure thing.

What kinds of organizations typically pay their interns?

Here’s a not very shocking fact – for-profit companies offer paid internships much more often than non-profits. So, your odds increase greatly if you want an internship in the private sector. But not all non-profits are equal. If you want to work in that field, look for organizations that have a national presence. They usually have larger budgets and more established internship programs.

Should I pass on an unpaid internship?

Before you cross that internship off the list, consider this: NACE also reported that 45.6% of interns were hired by their employer in 2018. That possibility might make it worth saving up for a few months so you can swing it.

Internships are truly about getting valuable work experience, so there’s more to consider than just the salary. But it’s tough as a poor college student to go without any income (or juggle school and waiting tables), so let’s talk about paid internships.

What’s the average salary for an internship?

We’ve gathered a few different resources to help you see what interns are being paid across

the country.

NACE – As of 2017, NACE reports the average hourly rate for a bachelor's degree intern is $16.26. Typically, the closer to the degree, the higher the internship wage. A college senior averages 20.2 percent more than a student who just completed freshman year: $17.47 versus $14.53 per hour.

Indeed – Indeed reports the average salary for an intern at $12.95 per hour in the United States. Their estimates are based on 7,756 salaries collected from past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months. It’s worth noting that the range varies considerably based on location. For example, they report an average of $16.99 in Los Angeles versus $9.92 in Chicago.

Glassdoor – Glassdoor reports that the average intern salary is $33,120 per year, based on 1,454 salaries submitted anonymously. That works out to approximately $15-$16 per hour.

These numbers give you a ballpark, but the industry of your employer will determine the most about your potential salary.

How does the employer’s industry affect internship salary?

Many companies use their entry-level position salary as a guide for what to pay interns, so if you’re heading into a higher paid field, you’ll have a higher-paid internship. For example, if you’re planning to work in the tech, business, and finance industries, you can expect a higher rate than perhaps healthcare or publishing.

Here’s what to remember

• About 55% of employers pay their interns

• You’ve got better shot at a paid internship at a for-profit company

• Almost 50% of interns were hired by their employers, according to a study by NACE

• Average intern salaries are $16.26 (NACE), $12.95 (Indeed), $15-16 (Glassdoor)

• Higher paid industry = higher paid internship

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