Working in Ireland

Salaries and benefits for new graduates

When you are looking for your first job after graduation, salary will be one consideration. The results of the gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey give the current benchmarks.

gradireland carries out an annual survey of employers across Ireland looking at salaries, benefits and other trends in graduate recruitement. The results (published in the gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey) are primarily aimed at the recruiters themselves, but they also make useful reading for the graduate job-hunter.

Starting salaries

The survey showed that graduate salaries vary greatly both by sector and region. 5.8 per cent of new graduates will earn less than €20,000 in their first year, while 14.5 per cent can make more than €34,000. The median starting salary for a graduate in 2010 was €24,000. This maintains the decrease on salaries from the 2008 peak, where the median graduate salary was in the €26,000– €27,999 bracket. The median graduate salary for Ireland projected for 2011 is €25,000, which is an increase from the predicted figure of €24,000 from 12 months ago. This reflects the fact that while there may be fewer graduate jobs overall, there is still considerable competition amongst leading employers for the cream of the graduate crop.


Benefits additional to salary are an important part of a company’s attraction package. In virtually all cases, benefits such as golden handshakes have disappeared entirely, although pensions or health care contributions are still important attractors and can effectively add a considerable amount to a graduate’s income.

Education premiums

Relatively few companies (15 of the 79 surveyed) offer additional pay for graduates with additional fourth-level qualifications. However, those that do tend to offer extra pay for relevant postgraduate degrees rather than a specialist PhD degree. It is important to note that there are certain roles, for example in engineering and science, where a postgraduate qualification is a specific requirement. In these cases, completion of a PhD or masters course will have a bearing on pay scales. This is confirmed by the results from the survey, which show that the sectors offering the highest educational premium are science, research and development and engineering.

Salaries by sector and region

Northern Ireland (excluding Belfast) has the lowest median salary of €22,000, with the highest Irish salaries found in the ‘rest of Leinster’ region, with a median of €26,000, mainly due to the high volume of science and high skilled industrial investment.

Only 6.6 per cent of the opportunities provided by our surveyed graduate employers exist outside Ireland, but this appears to be where the higher salaries can be found, with a median salary for jobs in the ‘rest of the world’ category of €36,000 per annum.

Our survey shows that the best paid graduate jobs in 2010 were in engineering & manufacturing, with a median starting salary of €30,568, followed by IT & telecoms and law at €28,000. The highest percentage of graduate jobs created in 2010 remained in the accountancy & financial management sector, which comprised 41.4 per cent of the jobs, with a median salary of €21,600. The median salary for this sector has remained unchanged since last year, although the percentage of jobs has fallen from 51.3 per cent, reflecting the reductions of graduate jobs in this sector. One sector that has bounced back in 2011 is banking, insurance and financial services, which accounts for 17.9 per cent of graduate jobs, up from 5.2 per cent in 2009 and back to (and indeed above the 2008 level of 14.9 per cent).