Intern Salaries Hold Steady for 2013

Paid interns outpace unpaid peers in job offers, salaries

By Stephen Miller, CEBS May 30, 2013

The average salaries for bachelor’s and master’s degree interns in the U.S. held steady in 2013, according to the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

NACE’s 2013 Internship & Co-op Survey found that the average salary for bachelor’s degree interns ticked up just 0.3 percent to $16.26 per hour from $16.21 per hour in 2012. However, interns in several majors at the bachelor’s degree level earned an average of more than $18 an hour, including those majoring in engineering ($20.36), computer science ($18.96) and math ($18.15).

Meanwhile, the average salary for master’s degree interns dipped to $21.90 per hour from last year’s $21.93 per hour, representing a slight decrease of 0.1 percent. Among master’s degree interns, engineering majors earned the highest average salary ($24.43 per hour), followed by those majoring in physical sciences ($23.58), mathematics ($23.40) and business ($23.02).

The survey, conducted from Nov.15, 2012, to Feb. 1, 2013, was sent to 1,060 NACE employer members; 306 employers (28.9 percent) took part.

Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

Among 2013 graduates who reported applying for a job before graduation, those who did paid internships enjoyed a distinct advantage over their peers who did unpaid ones or who didn’t do an internship.

The results of NACE’s 2013 Student Survey show that 63.1 percent of paid interns received at least one job offer before graduation. By contrast, only 37 percent of unpaid interns received an offer—not much better than the results for those with no internship, of whom 35.2 percent received at least one job offer.

In terms of starting salary, paid interns also fared significantly better than other job applicants: The median starting salary for new graduates with paid-internship experience was $51,930—far higher than that of counterparts with an unpaid internship ($35,721) or no internship experience ($37,087).

This is the third consecutive year that NACE’s annual student survey has captured internship data for paid and unpaid interns. In each survey, paid interns exceeded their peers in job offers and starting salaries.

Conducted from Feb. 15, 2013, to April 30, 2013, the survey yielded more than 38,000 responses from college students, including 9,215 from seniors earning bachelor’s degrees.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.

Register Today

Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies

Search & Connect