The U.S. Department of Labor does not have an official definition of internship or externship. However, generally speaking, differences between internships and apprenticeships include:
- Length of Time: Internships are usually short term (1-3 months) and apprenticeships are longer term (1-3 years).
- Structure: Apprenticeships include a structured training plan, with a focus on mastering specific skills an employer needs to fill an occupation within their organization. Internships aren’t structured and often focus on entry-level general work experience.
- Mentorship: Apprentices receive individualized training with an experienced mentor who walks them through their entire process. Internships do not always include mentorship.
- Pay: Apprenticeships are paid experiences that often lead to full-time employment. Internships are often unpaid and may not lead to a full-time job.
- Credential: Apprenticeships lead to an industry-recognized credential. Internships typically do not lead to a credential.
- College Credit: Internship and apprenticeship experiences may both lead to college credit, although some apprenticeship programs will lead to a debt-free college degree.