Report: Interns See Slightly Higher Salaries in 2012

By Catherine Groux
Posted February 26, 2013 04:00 PM

Intern salaries on the rise.
Intern salaries on the rise.

New data from Intern Bridge brings good news for college students: The average salary for interns is slowly rising. In 2012, interns made an average of $13.50 per hour, marking a modest 2% rise from 2011. Additionally, of the students who said they were getting paid for their internship, 34.6% were also receiving college credit.

The report showed that students who hold internships in some fields tend to earn higher salaries for their efforts than others. For example, while individuals who intern in the tax, programming/software development and brand management industries tend to earn more than $19 per hour, those who intern in the culinary arts, broadcasting and event planning fields often make less than $9 per hour.  Of course, other factors come into play when it comes to determining the average salary of an intern, such as the location of the position, full-time or part-time status, and the number of hours worked.

The Benefits of Internship Compensation

In recent years, many higher education experts have debated whether students should receive compensation, or if college credit is enough reward for their work. However, the Intern Bridge report offers several statistics that show that compensation can greatly enhance the internship experience for students.

For example, students who were paid more as interns tended to have a better understanding of their job and experience with the company. Additionally, when students were asked if their internship helped them explore their career interests and options, those who answered "yes" had 15.1% higher salaries than those who said "no."

This trend could potentially be connected to the fact that paid interns are frequently given different assignments than their unpaid peers. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), paid interns tend to spend just 25% of their time on clerical and non-essential functions, while unpaid interns spend 31% of their time on these tasks.

As offering compensation for internships shows that employers are willing to invest in training and recruiting new talent, it is perhaps unsurprising that paid interns are more likely to receive job offers than unpaid interns. The NACE survey shows that while 60% of 2012 college graduates who took part in paid internships got at least one job offer, this figure dropped to 37% among unpaid interns. 

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