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Loyola University Chicago

Academic Internships

Center for Experiential Learning


Do I have to pay an intern?


Employers are allowed to list unpaid opportunities in our Ramblerlink system.  However, if a position is unpaid, the employer must be familiar with the United States Department of Labor guidelines for legally offering unpaid internships.

Most opportunities are actually employment that requires payment. This fact sheet produced by the United States Department of Labor provides general information to help determine whether interns must be paid the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Paying an intern will yield benefits for the employer!

First, by paying their interns, employers ensure themselves a wider pool of candidates from which to choose. All interested students—not just those who can afford to forgo a paycheck—can be part of the pool.

Second, there are a variety of legal issues surrounding unpaid internships, and this can hamper the employer’s ability to give the intern “real work.” The paid intern, however, can perform real work and contribute to the organization, benefitting both the intern and the employer. As an added bonus, the intern and the employer are able to “test-drive” each other to see if there might be a good match for full-time employment. Ultimately, the paid internship is a win-win.

How Much Should You Pay an Intern?

A recent internship survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) offers some insight into what employers are paying interns for their work.

Generally, the closer to the terminal degree, the higher the internship wage. 

Salaries also vary by major and industry. View NACE's Research and the 2012 Guide to Compensation for Interns & Co-ops.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder. www.naceweb.org.

If the Intern receives class credit, do I have to pay them?

Loyola University Chicago supports the National Society for Experiential Education’s position on this topic:  Credit is for what students learn; pay is for what they provide to the field sponsor. The two are neither mutually exclusive nor conflicting … (National Society for Experiential Education, 2011)


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