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Working in Ireland
Your Guide on Jobs and Finding Work in Ireland
What is it like to work in Ireland as a foreigner? It used to be quite difficult, especially after the 2008 global recession. During this time, expats and Irish nationals alike struggled to find work in the country. Luckily, compared to other European countries, Ireland’s job market bounced back remarkably fast, making it now rife with opportunities for those looking to live and work there.
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While the Irish job market has many opportunities for both foreign and local workers, the downside is that it attracts great competition. To find a job in Ireland, expats will need to be sure their CVs and cover letters are polished and will help them stand out among the hundreds of other applicants they will be competing with.
In general, work life in Ireland is similar to many other European countries. Working days are Monday to Friday and average office hours are from 9:00 to 17:30. The average salary increases slightly every year and, accounting for both full-time and part-time positions, nationally ranges just below 40,000 EUR (44,000 USD) per year.
Expats who wish to work as a self-employed person may do so, but nationals from non-EU/EEA countries will need a special visa first. Everyone working in Ireland is automatically entitled to social security, and the specifics of some benefits (such as maternity and paternity leave) may surprise you.
How to Get a Job in Ireland
If you want to know how to get a job in Ireland as a foreigner, you should be aware that it is easier for EU/EEA citizens than third country nationals. EU/EEA nationals are able arrive, establish a home, and then start looking for a job. Non-EU/EEA nationals, on the other hand, will need a relevant visa in order to live and work in the country. For more on this, see our section on how to get a Visa and Work Permit in Ireland.
Despite the necessity of visas and work permits, working in Ireland as a foreigner is not as difficult as it is in other European countries. Even though it was one of the economies hit the hardest by the global recession, it is also one of the fastest to bounce back.
Job Opportunities in Ireland for Foreigners
One of the best ways to get a job in Ireland as a foreigner is by looking at the industries with the most vacancies in the country. One popular job sector is the service industry. As a favorite tourist destination, it is in continual need of service workers and those in hospitality and tourism. Both skilled and casual workers can find work in these areas.
Another area where expats can find ample job opportunities is in the technology sector. In recent years, Ireland’s technology market has grown threefold. The small island country is now home to many technology behemoths such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, to name a few. It may even be possible for expats to find jobs within these companies and then apply for an inter-company transfer to Ireland.
Other large companies based in Ireland:
The country is also facing a skills shortage in certain career industries. Expats with experience in the following fields will have a particular advantage when looking for a job:
- business and finance;
- engineering (specifically biomedical engineers, chemical engineers, electrical engineers, energy engineers);
- transport and logistics.
How to Apply for a Job in Ireland as a Foreigner
Even with the decline of Ireland’s unemployment rate, expats interested in working in there should prepare themselves for a competitive market. This is because, with such a high quality of life, Ireland is a popular destination for expats worldwide. EU/EEA citizens may be at a slight advantage over third country nationals simply because they don’t need a working visa. However, non-EU/EEA residents should not let that sway them.
Requirements to Work in Ireland
The requirements to work vary from job to job, but there are a few eligibilities that are fairly standard. The first is the language: the national language of Ireland is English. Expats who are not fluent should try to practice their skills before applying for a job. Irish is also spoken in Ireland, but it is a language requirement only of Irish government workers (and primarily present on the Aran Islands).
Having a university degree is another qualification to work in Ireland, although it is not a mandatory requirement. Because you will be competing with so many other applicants, it is important to make yourself standout as much as possible. One way to improve your chances is by earning a higher education degree. When applying for your work permit, the Irish immigration authorities will require your CV. This is to prove that you have the relevant experience and necessary qualifications to accept the job. If you do not have a university degree, the immigration authorities may not grant your permit.
Tips on Finding a Job in Ireland
Job vacancies can be found at:
- Irish Jobs;
Recruitment companies are ideal places to start your job search no matter which country you move to. This is because job recruiters are typically locals who are familiar with the current job market. They will also be best suited to find you positions to apply to based on your specific qualifications and references.
An Irish CV follows a similar format to other European ones. Your name and contact details should be written at the top of the page, below that you should list your educational history and achievements, starting with the most recent accolades. Next, you will list your work history, also in the order of most recent to the oldest. You should do your best to keep your CV under two pages.
Cover Letter Tips
Just because the Irish job market is booming, does not mean employers are hurting for job applicants. In fact, Ireland is such a popular destination, with its attractive salaries and high quality of life, that you will likely be competing with hordes of people for any job that you apply for. To make yourself standout, be sure to research each company before applying and tailor your letter to match that company. Mentioning specifics about the company will go a long way to showing recruiters how enthusiastic you are.
No matter the job you are applying for, it is best to dress “business casual” when interviewing for a job. Women should opt for a nice blouse with an A-lined skirt or dress pants. Men should wear nice slacks, a button-up shirt, and a tie. You do not need to worry about wearing neutral or dark colors. It is also best to arrive to the interview at least five minutes early. Unlike countries like Sweden or Germany, Ireland does not have an uber-strict adherence to being on time, but it is always best to make a good first impression.
Irish culture is friendly and inviting. When going to networking events, it is best to keep this in mind as being reserved and shy may turn off some people. You should always have business cards on hand and make sure to follow-up with anyone with whom you exchange contact information. InterNations has active groups in both Cork and Dublin. These groups are great ways to meet fellow expats and locals who can help you settle into the country and advise you on the best practices for landing your dream Irish job.
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Minimum Wage and Average Salary
Along with the Irish job market’s gradual rise, the average salary has slowly increased from year to year. The past few years have seen Irish salaries climb by about 5-7% annually. On the whole, the average annual salary across the whole country hovers just below 39,000 EUR (43,000 USD). This amount takes into account that the average yearly salary of a full-time employee is about 48,000 EUR (53,000 USD) and a part-time employee is 18,000 EUR (20,000 USD).
Keep in mind that the national hourly minimum wage is 9.80 EUR (10.80 USD), which comes out to just about 20,000 EUR (22,000 USD) annually.
What is a Good Salary in Ireland?
Determining what a good salary is in Ireland depends on where you live. As you might expect, Dublin and its surrounding areas have the highest cost of living throughout the country. To live comfortably in this capital, a family unit would need to earn nearly twice as much as Ireland’s average annual salary. A solo expat, on the other hand, can live relatively comfortably, but there will not be much room for saving.
Here is a look at what a good level of annual income is for expats in Ireland’s most popular cities:
|Family of Four||75,000||83,000|
|Family of Four||60,000||66,000|
|Family of Four||64,000||70,500|
The Most In-Demand Jobs and How Much They Pay
As stated earlier, there are certain job sectors in Ireland where expats will find the most job opportunities. While service industry jobs are in high demand, most of these only pay the minimum wage or just above it. Expats looking for a slightly higher salary would do better looking at the other in-demand jobs such as Ireland’s booming tech industry, financing, and engineering.
Popular Jobs in Ireland and Their Average Annual Salaries
If you are interested in self-employment in Ireland, there are several ways to achieve this. Obviously, if you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, you can move there and establish residency without the need for a visa. Therefore, you could start working as a self-employed person immediately upon arriving. All you will need to do is prove you can financially support yourself. UK citizens may also enter the country and start working as a self-employed person.
All other nationals will need to apply for one of two special freelancer programs in order to live and work in Ireland as a self-employed person. You can read more about these in our Visas and Work Permits section.
How to be Self-Employed in Ireland
One of the first steps to becoming self-employed in Ireland is registering your name. This can either be your own name or you can register an official business name. If your business name is your own name, you do not need to register it. If your business name is different from your personal name, then you must register it with the Companies Registration Office.
Whether or not you register your business name, you will need to establish yourself as a sole trader in Ireland. This requires you to register as a self-employed person with the Revenue department of the Irish Tax and Customs. This can all be done online. You must have a PPS to register. Once you do, you will receive your Tax Reference Number (TRN), which you will use to fill out tax revenue forms and collect social security benefits.
When operating your business, be sure to keep records of everything you purchase, goods and services received, and all money that you earn. These records will be needed when filing your taxes.
Where to Look for Freelance Jobs in Ireland
Looking for freelance work in Ireland is similar to looking for it in any other country: the harder and longer you look, the more successful you are likely to be. When searching for freelance work, the best alternative is to go online. Here are some of the leading sites to start your search:
Just like with traditional jobs, networking is also a great way to find freelance work. If you are new to Ireland and unsure of where to start networking, consider joining an established expat community. InterNations is the largest social network of expats around the globe. Servicing over three million expats, InterNations hosts events and groups in over 420 different communities across the world. Attending one of their events will help you to not only feel connected to your new expat home, but also help you build a network of individuals who intimately understand the expat way of life, and can help you with best practices on starting your freelance business in a new country.
Self-Employed Benefits in Ireland
If you are between 16 to 66 years old, and earn more than 5,000 EUR (5,500 USD) per year, as a self-employed person, you will need to pay into the social security Class S. When you do, you will be eligible for the following benefits:
- Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension;
- Guardian’s Payment;
- State Pension;
- Maternity and Paternity Benefits;
- Adoptive Benefits;
- Health Treatment Benefits (Dental, Optical and Aural).
For a closer look at the social security benefits in Ireland, and what is and is not included, please see the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website.
Top Self-Employment Jobs in Ireland
Because Ireland is becoming a tech hub in Europe, freelancers in technical fields will have some of the greatest luck finding work. These freelance positions include graphic design, web design, programming, and web development.
In addition to these positions, here are a few other popular freelance positions for those interested in self-employment:
- copywriting and editing;
- English language tutoring;
- data analysis;
When working in Ireland, there are important aspects to be aware of in regard to the business culture. For example, gift giving is not a common practice in the country. Coming to a meeting with a gift will be off-putting to your Irish colleagues. However, if you are invited to a colleague’s place for dinner it is appropriate to bring flowers, a bottle of wine, or chocolates.
Other particulars of the Irish working culture to be aware of:
- Hierarchy: Irish business culture is hierarchical, but also casual. Decisions are made from the top down, but people in lower ranking positions should not feel like they cannot voice their opinion to management whenever they need.
- Punctuality: While the Irish are not culturally as punctual or time sensitive as other European countries, as a foreigner you should aim to always be on time for business events. That being said, you should also give leeway when waiting for your Irish partners.
- Meetings: They are largely informal and may often be held at a café, pub, or restaurant. You can expect polite conversation before it officially gets started.
- Greeting: It is standard practice to greet each other with a firm handshake and eye-contact.
- Workplace Dress Code: Your expected dress code will vary depending on your specific company. In general, the business dress code in Ireland is modest and conservative.
- Humor: Do not be offended if jokes are a part of your workplace. The Irish are known for a good sense of humor and they will expect their colleagues to share the same.
Social Security and Benefits
What is a social security number in Ireland? A social security number in Ireland is called a Personal Public Service number. This number is often referred to simply by the acronym PPS or PPSN. The PPS is a unique series of government issued numbers and letters given to residents. The number typically consists of seven numbers followed by a “check character” (always an alphanumeric character) and a possible second letter.
In Ireland, a PPS will help you access public services benefits such as social welfare and obtaining a driver’s license. This is also the number workers need in order for employers to deduct state taxes from employee salaries.
Can a Foreigner Get a Social Security Number in Ireland?
Yes, a foreigner can get a social security number. To apply for the social security number, you must meet two initial criteria:
- be living in Ireland, and
- proof that you need a PPS.
Proof that you need a PPS includes taking up employment in Ireland. Therefore, simply moving there and looking for a job will not suffice. If you do not yet have a job, but need a PPS for a specific Irish government body, you can apply through Ireland’s Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
Why do I Need a Social Security Number?
In addition to needing a PPS for employment and social welfare, you will also need it for the following public services:
- Free Travel Pass;
- Pupil ID;
- Public Health Services (including the Medical Card and Drugs Payment Scheme);
- child immunization;
- revenue schemes (including taxation and mortgage interest relief);
- housing grants;
- driver’s licenses.
How to Get a Social Security Number Ireland
If you move for work, your employer should apply for a PPS on your behalf. If they do not, or you need a PPS for another reason, the application process is quite simple. Whether you are an EU/EEA resident or not, all foreigners immigrating to Ireland will submit the following documents to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection:
- proof of residence in Ireland (this can be a utility bill, lease, etc.).
If you do not have a proof of residence, you can use an employment contract. If you are staying with a friend, you can also bring their utility bill as a proof of residence, with a note describing that this is your current accommodation.
Receiving Your Social Security Card
Once you are issued your PPS number, you will be given a Public Services Card (the same as a social security card in Ireland). This card will contain your name, photo, signature, PPSN, and card number. There will also be a magnetic strip, which you can use for social welfare payments.
Social Security Benefits Ireland
Social security payments in Ireland contribute to different social schemes. Both Irish nationals and “ordinarily” resident expats can benefit from these schemes. They include:
- jobseeker’s benefit;
- illness benefit;
- maternity benefit;
- invalidity pension;
- carer’s benefit;
- state pension.
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Maternity and Paternity Leave
Unfortunately, Ireland receives a lot of criticism for having one of the worst maternity leave policies in the European Union. This disapproval does not stem from the length of maternity leave in Ireland, which ranks second in Europe (just below the United Kingdom). Instead, it is aimed at the monetary amount new mothers receive.
How to Qualify for Maternity Leave
To qualify for maternity leave, you must pay into the social insurance scheme at contributions Class A, E, or H. If you are self-employed, this will be Class S. You must also provide a doctor’s certificate that states when your baby is due.
How Long is Maternity Leave in Ireland?
The Irish government allows 42 weeks of maternity leave, but only 26 (156 days) are paid (or: 10.5 months of total leave, and 6.5 paid). Expectant mothers must take some of this leave at least two weeks before their due date.
Maternity Benefits in Ireland
In addition to the allotted amount of leave, expectant mothers in Ireland are also given 245 EUR (270 USD) per week for the first 26 weeks of their maternity, earning Ireland the reputation for the worst maternity leave in Europe. While compared to some countries, such as the US, where paid maternity leave is not mandatory, most European countries require maternity leave payment to be a percentage of the woman’s annual salary. Instead, Irish companies are not required to pay women their salaries during their maternity leave.
This does not mean that you cannot receive your salary while on maternity leave. Whether or not you continue to receive your salary is up to each company. Only the 245 EUR is guaranteed. This is why Ireland’s maternity leave is not considered “well-paid.”
Stillbirths, Miscarriages, and Premature Births
If you have a stillbirth or miscarriage after the 24th week of your pregnancy, you are entitled to your full maternity leave benefits. You will need to submit a letter from your doctor stating the baby’s intended due date and the date of the stillbirth or miscarriage.
In the event of a birth that is so premature that you had not yet started your maternity leave, your leave will be extended to include the amount of time from the actual birth to the expected due date. These extra dates are eligible to receive the paid weekly benefit.
Mothers who adopt children are allotted 24 weeks of paid maternity leave and 16 weeks of unpaid leave.
Paternity Leave and Benefits
New fathers are entitled to just two weeks of paid paternity leave. This applies to self-employed men, too, and is eligible in the case of a birth or adoption. If the mother dies within 24 weeks of being pregnant or within 40 weeks of giving birth, the father is entitled to the full extent of her maternity leave.
If a single man adopts a child, he is entitled to 24 weeks of paid leave and 16 weeks of unpaid leave.
Parents who have children under one year of age are entitled to two weeks of paid parental leave. Parents are children younger than 12 years of age are entitled to 22 weeks, but these will all be unpaid.
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