Top 9 Industries That Pay Interns the Most Money
Internships are a great stepping stone for launching a successful career. They provide valuable work experience but are slightly more informal than full-time jobs and often don't require responsibilities that would be overwhelming for a newcomer.
While many internships were unpaid in the past, it's now common for interns to be compensated in actual money rather than experience. These industries pay their interns the best.
Average hourly rate for interns: $14.56
Percentage of unpaid internships: 7.97 percent
Bottom line: The government is one of the biggest employers in the United States and has many internship opportunities. Because this industry covers so many fields, you could find work opportunities in everything from education to healthcare to administration.
Look for government internships if you are interested in becoming a public servant or being involved in politics in the future.
Note: Rankings and data come from CashNetUSA's 2023 "U.S. Internship Report."
Average hourly rate for interns: $15.60
Percentage of unpaid internships: 11.03 percent
Bottom line: Teachers across the U.S. are woefully underpaid, but interns at schools don't do too poorly. Internships in this field usually take the form of teaching assistantships, allowing you to learn about classroom management and teaching methods in a real-world setting.
Use your internship to decide whether you really want to pursue teaching as a career, considering the amount of work for the relatively low pay that has teachers quitting in almost every state.
Average hourly rate for interns: $15.90
Percentage of unpaid internships: 14.14 percent
Bottom line: Whether you want to cover news or produce more lighthearted content, media is an industry where internships are incredibly valuable.
You'll get to learn the inner workings of a company while making connections. Often, internships in this field translate to jobs since people want workers who are already familiar with their systems and processes.
However, be on the lookout for unpaid internships, which have a pretty high percentage.
Average hourly rate for interns: $16.39
Percentage of unpaid internships: 18.80 percent
Bottom line: Retail internships usually involve planning processes rather than actual sales. They involve things like planning orders, doing inventory and financial analysis.
How involved you'll be in the exciting bits depends on the company. At some, you may just be fetching coffee and taking meeting notes. But others invest in your talent by letting their interns dive head-in and bring fresh perspectives into the workplace.
Average hourly rate for interns: $16.61
Percentage of unpaid internships: 5.06 percent
Bottom line: The healthcare industry requires highly skilled workers, so internships are a common practice. Don't worry, you likely won't be tasked with life-or-death decisions. Often, you'll be assisting or observing as a form of training.
But not all internships in the healthcare field are for aspiring doctors. You could also get involved in administration, education or even clinical lab work.
And the good thing is that only a little over 5 percent of internships in this industry are unpaid.
Average hourly rate: $17.01
Percentage of unpaid internships: 0.92 percent
Bottom line: Not only does manufacturing pay more than minimum wage, but it's also the industry with the lowest percentage of unpaid internships. An impressive 99.08 percent of interns are paid while learning the technical skills required to thrive in this field.
There are also a number of opportunities for those interested in being engaged in administrative roles.
3. Professional Services
Average hourly rate for interns: $17.91
Percentage of unpaid internships: 14.26 percent
Bottom line: Professional services refer people like lawyers, consultants and architects who offer specific services that need some sort of licensing or degree. Internships are common for aspiring lawyers, who usually begin to work as paralegals before moving up the ranks.
Because this field requires specialized skills, internships are often an invaluable first step into a career.
Average hourly rate for interns: $18.10
Percentage of unpaid internships: 30.67 percent
Bottom line: It's no surprise that people in finance would be paid well. What is surprising is that this industry has the highest percentage of unpaid internships — a shocking 30.67 percent. It seems, then, that interns are divided into two distinct camps: You either earn good money or no money at all.
If you're interested in pursuing this field as a long-term career, we suggest walking away from anything that's unpaid.
Average hourly rate for interns: $19.77
Percentage of unpaid internships: 2.31 percent
Bottom line: Of course, tech would pay interns the best. This field is as famous for its high salaries as for CEOs that wear sandals to the office and only have one outfit.
Unlike finance, however, tech pays 97.69 percent of its interns. So if you get an offer for something where you're compensated in "connections" and "experience," know that you are likely getting duped.
The most coveted internships in the industry are those at major companies like Google, but these opportunities are highly competitive since candidates know job offers often come at the end of a contract.
Average Internship Pay by Industry