Internships in America aren’t tracked and measured as extensively as employment is, which can make it difficult to find the most relevant internship facts and figures.
We’ve analyzed the latest reports, studies, and research papers from the last few years on internships in the U.S. and compiled all of the most important information on one page.
This page contains all the latest stats on unpaid internships, average salaries, how they affect employment, demographic information, industry statistics, and much more.
Find all the information you will ever need on internships in the U.S. here.
Key internship statistics
- 21.5% of college students do an internship, which would mean 4.17 million students were interns in 2022.
- Our forecast estimates reveal there will be approximately 4.1 million internships in America in 2023.
- The average internship lasts for 18.3 weeks (128.1 days), which is around 1,038 working hours.
- 31% of interns will do multiple internships before entering full-time work, and women are three times more likely to do multiple internships than men.
- The average hourly pay for an intern ranges from $16.56 to $20.76, which is up to 40.9% less than the average median salary in the U.S.
- Chicago, IL pays the highest average hourly pay for interns ($17.74), but Jersey City, NJ has the fewest people competing for each internship in the U.S.
- Two in five (40%) internships in the U.S. are unpaid, meaning there will be up to 1.66 million unpaid interns in America in 2023.
- A paid internship is 32% more likely to lead to a full-time job offer than an unpaid internship.
- The average age of interns is 17 years old and most (67.15%) interns are white.
- More than two in three interns (66.4%) secure a full-time job after their internship and will have a $15,000 higher salary, than those who did not do an internship.
- The most popular industry for interns is financial services which accounts for 19% of internships.
What is an internship?
An internship is a structured program of work experience offered by a business for a fixed period of time. Internships give people, usually students or college graduates, the opportunity to gain experience and skills in a particular industry in which they hope to work. Internships can be offered both with and without pay.
Different types of internships
While paid and unpaid are two categories of internships available, they may also be categorized as international or remote, based on what they offer interns. The following is typically how internships are defined and categorized:
- Paid internships – Some companies will pay their interns in exchange for the work they do, or offer expenses for food and travel. This is often not a large sum, but it depends on the company you intern at.
- Unpaid internships – Many internship programs are unpaid, meaning they only offer the experience of a workplace rather than any income. These programs still provide the benefit of helping interns gain future employment.
- International internships – These will typically last for a minimum of 6 months, in which a student from one country can apply for an internship in another country. The work could take place in person or remotely.
- Remote internships – Remote or virtual internships do not require the intern to be on-site, they simply work via computer and video calls.
How many people do an internship in the U.S?
The latest research reveals that around 21.5% of college students take an internship. Historic studies have put this percentage as high as 60%, however, newer studies do not mirror such high estimates, and actively challenge their accuracy. 
Taking this 21.5% figure, that would mean just over 4.17 million students take an internship in the U.S. each year, based on the National Center for Education Statistics student numbers for 2022. 
There are an unknown number of adults not in education who undertake an internship too, however, they would account for a much smaller percentage compared to college students. These are often referred to as ‘returnships’ where someone is returning to work having taken a break or made a career change. Research shows that 80% of those who take part in a returnship gain full-time employment. 
Internships taken in America over time
By applying the 21.5% figure to the number of student enrollments each year since 2012, we were able to calculate the approximate number of internships completed by students in America each year.
The number of students enrolled in college has reduced slightly each year since 2012, for internships, this naturally means the estimated number of students completing internships has also decreased from 4.63 million in 2012 to 4.16 million in 2021.
Using these trends we were able to predict internship numbers for the 2022 and 2023 graduating years too. These predictions estimate 4.15 million internships in 2022 and 4.10 million internships in 2023.
See the table below for the full breakdown of this data:
|Graduating Year||Total student enrollments (millions)||Estimated number who completed internships (millions)|
What is the average length of an internship?
The average length of an internship in the U.S. is 18.3 weeks.  With an average workday being 8.1 hours,  that would also mean the average internship takes around 1,038 hours to complete.
Some can be shorter or much longer, and many students take part in internships over college summer break which can typically last for around three to four months, depending on the school.
How many students do multiple internships?
Research papers have found that almost a third (31%) of students who undertake internships, do more than one. Women were far more likely (75%) to take multiple internships than men (25%).
Using 2022 student data forecasts, this would mean around 1,286,500 interns in the U.S. would take part in more than one internship over the course of their studies.
Paid internship statistics
Some businesses will pay their interns, this varies in each state and across industries. Below we’ve broken down further studies about paid internship salaries and which companies offer the most money to their interns.
Average intern salary
The average salary for a paid intern in the U.S. is $31,800, based on a typical 40-hour workweek. Interns make an average of $16.56 an hour in America, according to data from the end of 2022.  Other reports from 2021 put this hourly wage at $20.76, so earnings could be much higher for some. 
It’s more common for people to work as an intern for less than a year, therefore, they are unlikely to receive the former salary in full.
According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the average salary for all workers in the U.S. is $58,260 per year or $28.01 per hour.  This means that interns get paid 40.9% less on average per hour than a typical worker.
Intern base salaries by job
One report on internships found that the average base salary for an intern varied depending on job functions. Investment banking had the highest average base salary at $30.61 per hour with the upper end of the range being $55 per hour.
This was followed by accounting at $22.93 per hour. In the analysis, those interning in human resources (HR) had the lowest mean pay.
|Job Function||Hourly Pay ($)|
|Finance - Investment Banking||$10.00||$30.61||$55.00|
Companies with the highest-paying internships
Large tech and finance companies offer the best pay for their internships. Roblox, the online gaming platform, comes out on top at a median monthly pay of $9,667, followed by Uber and Capital One with $8,333 apiece.
Other high-paying employers for interns include Salesforce, Deutsche Bank, and eBay. The tech industry makes up 17 of the top 25 paying companies for interns in the U.S.
See the table below for the full list of the top 25 highest-paying employers for interns.
|Rank||Employer||Median monthly pay||Industry|
|13||Bain & Company||$7,125||Consulting|
|17||Susquehanna International Group (SIG)||$7,000||Finance|
|23||Palo Alto Networks||$6,667||Tech|
Highest-paying cities for interns
There are some cities in the U.S. where you’ll find higher-paying intern positions than others. Chicago offers the highest average hourly wage at $17.74, followed by Los Angeles at $17.26, and Boston at $17.14.
Source  (Information collected 11/17/22)
Cities with the highest monthly internship jobs available
Our own research also analyzed separate Indeed jobs board data to see how many internships were on offer each month when compared to a city’s population to reflect how tough the competition may be to get that first step in a career.
Our study found that Jersey City, New Jersey has the most internships on offer, with the lowest average of one internship available each month for every 94 citizens. Laredo, Texas had the highest competition, with 21,346 residents living in the city per one internship advertised, followed by Fresno, California which had 11,112 residents for every internship.
The best ten cities for monthly internship availability in the U.S. can be seen in the following table:
|City||State||Citizens per internship on offer (monthly)|
|Jersey City||New Jersey||94|
Source: StandOut CV analysis of Indeed data collected 11/28/22 compared to 2021 population figures.
Paid vs unpaid internships
Studies show that a paid internship is 32% more likely to lead to a full-time job offer than an unpaid one. So while unpaid internships are still worth someone’s time if they need to gain experience in a certain sector, they will have lower chances of being offered a full-time job compared to if they completed a paid one. 
This also will be partly due to unpaid internships taking advantage of some job hunters by promising a job at the end of the experience and then not hiring the individual.
Unpaid internship statistics
Many companies offer unpaid internships highlighting that they are offering the benefit of giving students experience in a real working environment.
Primarily, unpaid internships are undertaken by women. In fact, studies show that as many as four in five (81%) unpaid interns are women creating a large gender pay gap for internships in the U.S. 
What percentage of internships are unpaid?
The latest data shows that 40% of internships in the U.S. are unpaid.  When comparing this with student demographics, and the estimated number of internships per year, we calculated that there will be an estimated 1.64 to 1.66 million unpaid interns in America in 2023.
|Graduating year||Estimated number of internships (millions)||Estimated number of unpaid internships (millions)|
*Predictions based on forecasted data of student enrollment from November 2022.
Average intern demographics in America
The data shows without a doubt that interns are mostly students, which already creates a mental image of what an intern in America looks like. While that’s a good starting point, the studies allow us to get a deeper look at what the average intern in America is.
Average age of interns
The average intern in America is aged 17 years old. Studies show a large variety in the percentage of students who engage in internships, however, most agree that seniors are typically the largest, or the second largest, group to undertake internships. One study puts this figure as high as 50% of seniors having taken part in an internship of some kind.
There is however no legal age limit to being an intern in the U.S. A lot of people work as interns during the summer while studying at college or before attending college, but some people may do an internship later in life if they’re considering a career change and need to gain some experience.
Some studies highlight that the average age of interns may be around 46, which may be taking into account career switchers later in life, however, there will be far more students as interns than career switchers.
Student interns by race
The majority of student interns in the U.S. are white, with white people making up 67.15% of students who take part in internships. This is followed by Asians and Asian Americans at 14.18%, and Hispanic, Latinx or Chicano/a people at 7.05%.
Internships converting to full-time jobs
Statistics show that completing an internship makes you 85% more likely to secure a full-time job once you graduate.
The average conversion rate for interns was 66.4% in 2021, meaning just over two-thirds moved into a full-time position after completing their internship, this was just over a 20% increase from 2020 when the conversion rate was 55.5%.
Using a CAGR of 0.78% over the last 6 years, we could expect an estimated conversion rate of 66.9% for 2022. That’s approximately 2,776,350 interns in 2022 who will have converted their internship to full-time employment.
Since 2016, internship conversion rates have stayed fairly consistent, only dropping slightly in 2018 to 45.6%.
How do internships impact starting salary?
Research shows that those who complete a paid internship will earn around $15,000 more in their median starting salary than those who did not do an internship.
The data is almost the complete opposite for those who undertake an unpaid internship, however. Those who take on an unpaid internship earn less than those who didn’t do any form of internship. See the pay differences in the graph below.
Internships by industry
There are plenty of industries in the U.S. that offer internships to students and graduates in order to develop skills and get a taste of a real working environment.
Data from one school found that the most popular industry for internships was financial services, with 19% of internships taking place in this sector. The next most popular industries were accounting (11%), and consumer packaged goods (6%).
Less popular industries but still making the list are education, government, and pharma or biotech (all 1% each).
|Industry||Percentage of internships|
|Consumer packaged goods||6%|
Qualifications employers look for in an intern
The qualifications needed to be an intern will depend on the company you’re applying to and the type of job you want to do. If you’re applying as a student intern, most of these requirements will relate to your education rather than your work experience.
Below are the most common education requirements included in intern job openings over the last three years. Topping the list is a Bachelor’s degree with 39% of companies including this in their requirements when hiring for internships. This was followed by high school diplomas or GED at 34% and Associate’s degrees at 13%.
Valuable skills for interns
Having certain skills on your resume can make you more likely to be accepted into an internship program. Some of the popular skills that employers look for when hiring interns include:
- Customer service
- Data collection
- Civil engineering
- Computer skills
Read more about how to include an internship on your resume here.
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