Is there a CPT salary limit? Short Answer: No. Technically there is no cap in how much you can get paid during a CPT program. However, there are a few restrictions that can influence how much you can earn.
What is CPT?
International students in the US hold an F1 student visa. The F1 visa allows them to work off-campus during their studies with a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. Students must apply for a CPT permit every semester they would like to work off-campus. There are several rules associated with CPT. For example, CPT work must be directly related to the student’s field of study. And, the job should be educational. Also, there are some restrictions regarding part-time and full-time employment.
Maximum Work Hours and Salary Limit
Technically, there is no CPT salary limit. Still, your salary will probably vary depending on the season. During the Fall and Spring semester, you can only participate in part-time CPT employment. And part-time CPT has a cap of 20 hours per week. During winter breaks or summer, you can work full-time. Full-time CPT is defined as more than 20 hours a week. There is no limit on how many hours you can work during a full-time period. Yet, most employers cap employees at 40 hours due to employment laws and overtime pay.
During CPT, your employer might pay you a stipend or an hourly rate. Regardless, you can expect to get paid about half of your salary during the school year and a full salary during the breaks. However, you will have to work out the details with your employer.
If you are interested in supplementing your education with some work experience, start looking for internships early. Be aware that some internship or coop programs might not accept international students as they are funded by the government or require a security clearance. Even though you are ineligible for some programs, do not get discouraged. There are plenty of opportunities out there.
Keep your options open and apply to several positions. Some programs can be very competitive, but also offer meaningful work experience with high remunerations. For example, large corporations provide summer internships for thousands of students every year. Some of those internships feature large compensations.
“Internships can be a gateway to high-paying jobs — though some of them pay well on their own.
To compete for the best talent, the biggest firms in tech, engineering, and finance offer interns salaries as high as $8,000 a month, according to Glassdoor’s annual report on internships and entry-level jobs. Glassdoor looked at base salaries reported by interns from March 2018 to February 2019.” Akhtar, The 25 highest-paying internships in the US, Business Insider
Universities also offer competitive programs. Some programs are related to research others are practical. For example, some institutions offer summer research programs or Research Experience for Undergrads (REU). REUs last 8 to 12 weeks and are educational research programs. Universities pay students a stipend for their summer work at the REU. The stipend amount varies depending on the University. But the total amount is usually between $5,000 to $10,000. Besides, some REUs also cover room and board.
Is there a minimum CPT salary limit?
Again, there is no limit, and no parameter is how much or how little you can get paid. Technically, you can participate in CPT with an unpaid internship. So, you can get paid nothing. If it is not an unpaid internship, then the minimum salary would be the minimum wage in your city/state of residence.
Is there a maximum CPT period?
There is no such thing as a maximum CPT period. A student might participate in multiple CPT programs during their studies. However, a cumulative 12 month (365 days) of full-time CPT makes the student ineligible for OPT (Optional Practice Training). Part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.