Center for Career Development

What is Cooperative Education?

Cooperative education (also known as “Co-op”) is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Co-op is a voluntary, independent education program available for all undergraduate and graduate students in any academic area. Students have the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in the professional field they are considering as a career path. The cooperative education program provides careful supervision with timely evaluation of performance, attitude, and ability of the student on the job. The goal is to empower students to grow and improve their capabilities.

» How are co-ops different from internships?

» What kind of salary do co-op students earn?

How Are Co-ops Different From Internships?

co-op position:

    • Is almost always paid.
    • Usually involves multiple semesters.
    • Always gives a student one hour of add-on credit each semester the student is out on co-op assignment and shows on a student's transcript. This credit hour does not count toward graduation requirements but does keep the student enrolled at Tennessee Tech while out on assignment. The student's experience must be related to the student's major of study and future career goals. Future co-op terms must build on experience gained from the first term with increased responsibilities and increased opportunity for learning. May involve different scheduling plans.
    • May involve different scheduling plans.
      • Plan A (Traditional) - Student works full-time for an employer for up to 12 months.
      • Plan B (Alternating) - Student works alternate semesters at the employer's site (work, return to school, work, etc.).
      • Plan C (Parallel) - Student will attend college and work locally approximately 20 hours per week for the employer.
      • Plan D (Summer) - Student works during the summer semester only.

An internship:

    • May be paid or unpaid - Unpaid internships must adhere to the Department of Labor's Primary Beneficiary Test.
    • Involves only one semester of work (usually 120 days or less).
    • Involves academic credit obtained through a student's academic department.

The Center for Career Development is not an academic department and, therefore, does not grant academic credit for any internships. The Center for Career Development's primary role is the posting of internship opportunities to the Handshake online resume and job database.


Co-op Salary Surveys

Below are the results of the most recent Cooperative Education Program Salary Surveys from the Spring 2023 semester. The salary survey, as well as salary surveys from past semesters, is available for download in a PDF format at the bottom of the page. 



Tennessee Tech University Fall 2023 Co-Op Salary Survey
Majors Low Average High Yearly
Chemical Engineering $18.00 $23.43 $30.00 $48,833.83
Computer Engineering $18.00 $20.22 $25.12 $38,830.08
Computer Science  $17.50 $19.04 $24.00 $38,948.57
Electrical and Computer Engineering $18.00 $20.00 $21.00 $38,400.00
Electrical Engineering $18.00 $24.00 $27.00 $46,080.00
Engineering Technology   $20.00   $38,400.00
Mechanical Engineering $18.00 $24.23 $30.00 $46,518.00
Business $18.00 $19.00 $20.00 $36,480.00
Chemistry   $23.50   $45,120.00
Engineering (Graduate) $30.00 $37.50 $45.29 $72,000.00
Curriculum & Instruction (Graduate)   $22.50   $43,200.00

Year = 160*12 = 1920 hours     *Does Not Include Overtime Pay


Co-Op Salary Surveys


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