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How Much Should You Pay Your Interns? [UAE Intern Salaries 2023]

Deciding how much to pay your interns can be difficult. You want to make sure you’re offering them an appropriate salary in line with what others in their industry are receiving, but you don’t want to break your budget.

The problem is, if you don’t provide a salary, you’re likely to lose out on attracting the highest quality candidates.

Currently, more than 90% of companies on Oliv are offering some kind of payment to their interns. Generally, the salaries vary depending on the industry the student wants to work in – administrative roles and marketing earn the least, while internships in engineering and technical support earn the most.

Here are the average monthly salaries broken down by industry:

Accounts 3,ooo 5,000 5,000 8,000
Admin, Customer Service 3,000 5,000 4,000 7,000
Financial Analysis 4,000 6,000 5,000 9,000
HR / Recruitment 3,000 5,000 5,000 8,000
Marketing 3,000 6,000 5,000 8,000
Operations 3,000 5,000 5,000 8,000
Sales 3,000 5,000 5,000 8,000
IT Support 3,000 6,000 4,000 7,000
Network & Systems 3,000 6,000 4,000 7,000
Software Development 3,000 6,000 4,000 7,000
Technical Sales 3,000 6,000 4,000 7,000
Web Developement 4,000 7,000 5,000 8,000
Engineer 4,000 7,000 5,000 9,000
Sales Engineer 4,000 7,000 5,000 9,000
Architecture & Interior Design 3,000 5,000 4,000 8,000
Graphic Design 5,000 7,000 6,000 8,000
Law 3,000 6,000 5,000 9,000
PR, Advertising, Social Media, Copy Writing 3,000 6,000 5,000 8,000


Do small businesses or multi-nationals pay interns more? It’s probably not what you think

Salary amounts often depend on the size of your business. Typically you might expect multi-nationals to pay more than small businesses, but that’s not exactly the case.

Multi-nationals typically have far wider ranges in pay than small businesses, which means their averages usually even out.

Multi-nationals can often get away with paying low salaries because they’re able to offer something that certainly helps students get their careers off to a flying start — a globally recognizable brand on their resume.

That being said, a lot of multi-nationals also have strict global guidelines of pay that need to be adhered to and can range at a higher end from 5,000-6,000AED.

And that’s only the tip of the wage iceberg. While it’s useful to know what the average market salaries are, it’s also important to have your own salary structure.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Base pay on the role’s value and other variables

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you want interns with specific skills, you’re going to need to pay them for it.

Buffer, a social media monitoring company, came up with a handy formula as a way of setting salaries.

Buffer Salary Formula


They based it on 4 major elements:

  1. Role — (overall base + location base + cost of living)* role value
  2. Experience — tier-based
  3. Choice — equity vs. salary
  4. Loyalty — how many years they’ve been onboard).

Creating a structure for salaries can be a useful exercise for any business to through. It helps you get a better understanding of how much you value your employees contributions, skills, loyalty and experience. It also makes it a lot easier setting salaries for new staff and evaluating pay raises.

While the example given above is for full time employment, it can easily be adjusted for interns.

Use reference points and intuition

Arriving at a data-driven salary structure that you’re happy with can take quite some time and internal research. So until then using reference points and a little intuition can result in some effective short term solutions and quick wins.

Web Analytics

For example, if you’re looking for a marketing intern with the know-how of setting up digital marketing campaigns, or managing your social media presence, how much would you be willing to pay an agency to do that for you on a monthly basis (reference point)?

Of course they might not be as skilled experienced as an agency, but what might those additional skills be worth to you in an intern (intuition)?

Maybe 50-60% of the agency cost for an intern working and learning 40 hours a week?

Let’s say you’re working with:

  1. 10,000 AED/month media budget
  2. Agency setup and management fee is 2000 AED/month.

So if you’re looking for an intern with basic digital marketing skills, the formula might look something like something as simple as this:

Intern Salary Calculator

Attracting the best interns is not limited to pay

At the end of the day interns are looking for a friendly work environment, relevant experience and education. Money is all well and good, but not if they spent their internship fetching coffee and licking envelopes.

Emphasize what they’re likely to achieve during their internship, be it their name on a major project, the chance to learn from some of the best in your field, on-site training in a number of areas, or even small office perks like t-shirt friendly, remote working and half-Thursdays (does anyone do this anymore?).

Interns want to walk away feeling like they’ve made a positive first step in their careers. Money in their pockets facilitates that feeling, but it’s not everything and certainly shouldn’t be.

Offer interns a fair salary and excellent experience and you’ll have no problem attracting the best.

See you next week. If you have something you want to learn more about when it comes to students and graduate recruitment, let me know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter.

PS. Leave the number crunching to us! Get more free guides straight to your inbox

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