Why are there paid internships but there isn’t any paid student teaching?
This question was asked by Vincent Pisano, who is curious about the differences in payment between internships and student teaching, seeking to understand why one is paid while the other is typically unpaid.
The issue of paid internships versus unpaid student teaching is a complex one, rooted in historical practices and current economic realities. Internships, whether paid or unpaid, are common across various industries. However, the practice of paying interns has been gaining traction, with about 60% of internships now being paid, as of March 15th, 2023. The average wage for an intern in the U.S. is $15.37 per hour, although this varies depending on the industry and location.
Paid internships offer several benefits to both the intern and the employer. For the intern, it provides financial support, allowing them to focus more fully on their internship without the need for additional side jobs. It also motivates them to stay engaged and do their best work. For the employer, paid internships can be leveraged strategically to save recruiting teams time, money, and resources. They also contribute to a positive company brand and support commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
However, not all internships are paid. Unpaid internships are common, especially when the internship counts as academic credit toward graduation. Some small businesses and non-profit organizations might not have room in their budgets to pay an intern, so they offer unpaid internships that provide academic credit instead.
On the other hand, student teaching positions are usually unpaid, causing financial stress for many aspiring educators. This lack of compensation often forces student teachers to borrow money to cover tuition and living expenses, trapping them in a cycle of student debt. Despite this, at least four states – Maryland, Colorado, Michigan, and Oklahoma – have passed legislation to support student-teacher stipend programs.
The disparity between paid internships and unpaid student teaching can be attributed to different factors. One key factor is the long-standing tradition in the education profession of underpaying educators, making it financially challenging for many candidates to pursue teaching without taking on an extra job during college. Another factor is the legal requirement for for-profit companies to pay those classified as employees, a category that interns may fall into under certain circumstances.