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Ireland's Digital Economy

105k employees

40% of exports

16% growth p.a.

IRL 1st for business Forbes

The digital technology sector contributes 4.4% to Ireland’s GDP, and is growing at 16% per year – that is more than 10 times the rate of growth of the economy as a whole.

With exports worth €72 billion per annum (40% of total national exports) and four of the top five exporters in Ireland being technology companies, this sector is a major employer, accounting for an estimated 105,000 employees.

The digital technology sector contributes 4.4% to Ireland’s GDP, and is growing at 16% per year – that is more than 10 times the rate of growth of the economy as a whole.

With exports worth €72 billion per annum (40% of total national exports) and four of the top five exporters in Ireland being technology companies, this sector is a major employer, accounting for an estimated 105,000 employees.

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Welcome to Prosperity's 2011 Digital Salary & Employment Survey

Ireland's Aspiration - To become an International Digital Hub.

The Threats - Deficiencies in the Educational Pipeline + Negative International Perception + Multinationals cherry picking the indigenous sector of its best talent = a shortage of candidates.

This survey pertains to the Irish Digital Sector, encompassing Digital and Mobile Marketing, Design & Development. It covers Agency and Client Side, including Ecommerce, Gaming and Mobile / Telecoms.

With the downturn we are currently experiencing, the jobs market has naturally become highly competitive. With that fact in mind, we have done extensive research into where the gaps lie in the Irish digital jobs market - both in terms of roles and candidates - and how this compares to other countries both inside the EU and further afield. For the sake of clarity, when we use the term 'Digital' in this document, we are generally referring to Web but also to mobile, IPTV and other digital channels.


The downturn has actually accelerated the uptake of Digital sales and marketing processes within Irish companies. Digital has afforded companies a true measure of their marketing, sales, communication and transactional efforts to an extent that wasn't possible before, and this means that even the most creative of roles will now be assessed in terms of its direct impact on the bottom line. Examples of this we have seen first hand is in brand communications, where the Diageos, Nikes and Sonys of the world can now use specific metrics to measure what is being said about them, whether they are being discussed in a positive manner by their desired target markets (or not, as the case may be).

On balance, the digital sector in Ireland is doing very well. Multi-nationals aside, we have indigenous ecommerce ventures that are proving to be World beaters, such as Web Reservations and Paddy Power. And while many of our traditional advertising agencies are losing campaigns to other countries, our digital agency sector is gaining international renown - companies such as Cybercom and CKSK are flying the flag with respective global campaigns for Open University and Strongbow

Cider. Ireland is getting many things right - we have a high percentage of school leavers going on to third level education. Science Foundation Ireland continues to forge strong links between research and business, and we are seeing many commercial spin offs. We have an open and easy business enviroment. We are establishing capital streams for start ups and emerging businesses. And of course, the IDA continues to do exemplary work. However, there are shortcomings, particulary in regard to the pipeline of talent entering the digital economy.

At present we have the reputational aspiration, but to achieve the status of being a true digital economy the educational curriculum needs an increased focus on producing graduates for a digital economy - a ground up emphasis on maths (E.g.: project maths to gain an understanding of mathematical concepts, with increased use of contexts and applications that will enable graduates to relate mathematics to every day experience in the digital fields) technology and creative education. We need to create that groundswell. If we do that, Ireland can achieve a tipping point such as other hubs of creativity have reached whereby once we have attained a critical mass of fully resourced muntinationals and indigenous ecommerce companies and agencies, this will establish us as a compelling destination for the people with the skills and the ideas.

And what this market could definitely do with is an influx of digital professionals to fill the many roles out there. finds that such is the demand for talented and experienced Developers, Interactive Designers or Ecommerce managers, that we often end up with several offers for a suitably qualified / experienced candidate.

Up untill 2009, we had been able to make up for the shortall in skills and experience by sourcing talent from the UK, Continental Europe, Australia, South Africa and to a lesser extent, The US. However, it has become far more difficult to attract a strong calibre of person to Ireland due to the negative publicity that our economy has received in the global Media over the last couple of years.

Another issue we feel that contributes to the lack of qualified professionals is that foreign students (from outside the EU) find it difficult to stay on after graduation. Whereas in Canada and Australia, a graduate is free to jump straight into the local job market, we don't have the same entitlement here in Ireland and therefore we lose talented digital professionals who could and should be working here. Further to that, working visas should be more easilly available to a wider spectrum of digital professionals.

A partial hindrance to the growth of our indigenous Digital organisations is that the multinationals tend to absorb the best talent out there. It is incredibly hard for digital SMEs to compete with the big multinationals, both in regards to the percieved security that a large company offers a candidate (which in the current climate is increasingly important) and also the luxuries that a smaller company just cannot afford to offer - free food, Luas and Dart passes, childcare contribution and gyms etc.

These can really make a huge difference in how appealing a role is to a candidate, and sadly (for non-multinationals) these are the carrots that the multi-nationals are dangling in front of the most talented digital professionals in Ireland. In these straitened times many candidates are eager for the security that the multi-nationals can offer; however, the hope is that in better times these multi-nationals will serve to seed the economy with highly skilled and expertly trained ex-employees who will go on to benefit Irish employers with best practice experience and expertise, and in many cases create new start ups / ventures / spin offs.


While the quality of Irish graduates is often internationally lauded, there has been a lack of suitably qualified science and engineering graduates; further to that there have been concerns expressed by Intel and other US Multinationals about grade inflation which places a consequent question mark over the quality of Irish Science and Technology graduates. If grade inflation is the case, it is not a tenable corrective measure. Furthermore, the tendency of Irish graduates to be truly fluent in just English (Only 8 per cent of Irish secondary school students learn two or more foreign languages compared with the European average of 60 per cent ) often disqualifies them from working in Multinationals that use Ireland as the base of their operations for Europe, The Middle East and Africa. Irish educational institutions have in the past worked closely with multinationals to identify employability criteria. This should continue, but should also encompass the requirements of our indigenous digital industries.

    To Quote IBEC Head of Education Policy, Tony Donohue: "Significant action is required in the area of what are sometimes termed 'generic' or 'employability' skills. These skills are key requirements for many of the jobs we hope to create in high tech industries and in the services sector. The perceived shortfall in this area is a real cause for concern. Employers and educators have a critical role to play both in addressing these skills gaps and bridging the gap between education and employment. This can be achieved through work placements and greater links between business and higher education in areas such as curriculum development. In this way employers will get an opportunity to shape the learning that will help to drive economic recovery."

One home grown success which has been impacted by the shorcomings of Irish graduates is the technology company: Havok.

In a September 2008 interview with, Chief executive, David O'Meara, stated that a shortfall of quality graduates led to the company establishing overseas operations in Calcutta and Munich in order to get its hands on the quality it needs.

There is hope, though - in recent comments at the launch of the 2012 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, Minister of Education, Ruari Quinn, stated that the government is determined to transform the curriculum to ensure a culture of creative thinking matched with measurable results. feels that it might be in Ireland's interest to attract an International school such as Hyper Island to our shores. Hyper Island has schools in locations such as Sweden, The UK, and America, and they train in Digital Media, mobile applications and motion graphics.

Where is the demand?

While employment in most other sectors of the Irish economy continues to be in the doldrums, there is a healthy demand for jobseekers within the digital technologies sector.

Roles where demand exceeds supply, include:

  • Web / Mobile Developers
  • Ecommerce Managers (especially those with retail experience as our indigenous retailers are now compelled to compete with the likes of and similar Digital shopping destinations)
  • Interactive/Digital Designers (especially those who have experience of designing for big brands or within an advertising agency environment)
  • Digital Product Managers
  • Digital Account Managers from media - those with Digital planning and buying, and search marketing specifically are in huge demand.
  • Social Media / Community Managers.
  • Search Engine Optimisation Specialists.


Comparing the salaries of certain digital media roles throughout countries in Europe and Asia makes for interesting reading. The countries we researched for this survey include: Ireland, The U.K., Singapore, Czech Republic and Israel.

During this research we noticed that web development salaries, (i.e. database and software developers) in Ireland and the UK were predominantly the same with a few exceptions; for example a Senior Java/J2EE developer salary in Ireland is €40-55+k whereas in the UK it is usually in the range of €50-65+k, with Java Developers in The Czech Republic earning €26-33k. In Singapore, however, the salaries for these same roles are in some cases up to 50% higher than in Ireland at €60-70k.

The salaries for the The Czech Republic for web development roles are between 40 - 60% down on the Irish salaries, with .NET developers earning €19-39k, and software developers earning €12-19k, while in Ireland a senior .NET developer can usually earn between €35-65k.

Salaries for Senior Flash Designers in Ireland are €40-50k while in the UK they are around 20% higher at €50-60k.

Senior Interactive Design salaries in Ireland, the UK and Israel are similar at €40-55k but this is still down 20% on Singaporean salaries which are at €50-65k.

Senior Web designer salaries in Ireland, Singapore and Israel are quite similar, usually ranging between €35-50+k with the UK salaries are generally 15-20% lower at €30-40+k.

Technical Director roles were considerably higher in the UK than in Ireland according to our research. A Technical Director in Ireland can expect a salary of €100-€140k whereas the same position in the UK would yield a salary of €140-200k. In Singapore a Technical Director salary comes in at around €210k+.

There are vast dissimilarities between the salaries for Program Managers. In the Czech Republic the salary is €21-34k, Israel €49-78k, Ireland €80-100k, UK €110-145k and Singapore €116-200k.

Senior Analyst salaries in Ireland are generally pitched at €40-60+k which come in less than UK salaries which are usually in the range of that of €55-70k.

Our research into the salaries of digital media managerial roles outline that Irish salaries in this sector are on par with Singaporean salaries and are upon average 5-15% higher than those received in the U.K with the Israeli salaries for the same roles very similar to ourselves.

Higher salaries in Ireland for Senior Digital roles might reflect the lag Ireland's indigenous companies suffer in relation to other markets such as the UK, and the fact that many senior appointments require strong strategic planning and implementation abilities to bring Irish companies up to speed. Head of Digital Salaries often come in around the €100k per annum mark in the UK, while in Ireland they can extend up to €110k. Social Media Managers can atttain salaries of up to €45k per annum in the UK, while there is no such cap in Ireland, and people with strong experience can often earn far more. A Digital Marketing Director in the UK can generally earn between €80 - 100k, while in Ireland the salary range is €80 - 110k.

The average salary for a Senior Digital Account Manager in Ireland, for the year ending, was €40-60k with UK's being €39-53 and Singapore's €40-57k.

From our research we can identify that the salaries of Digital Marketing Managers and Brand managers in Ireland, along with Singapore, are the highest out of the countries we researched for this survey, with a Digital Marketing Manager earning €55-75k and a Brand Manager earning €35-75k. The UK range is €45-65k for a Digital Marketing Manager and €35-65k for a Brand Manager. In the Czech Republic a Digital Marketing Manager's salary would yield €33-53k and Israel €65-75k. These higher salaries in some sectors of Irish Digital Media might reflect the rapid transitioning of corporate marketing strategies to the Digital space and a consequent demand that exceeds the supply of suitable candidates.

A slightly concerning development is that we find an increasing number of candidates are enquiring about finding work in the UK. These are candidates who are in demand here, and are vital to the evolution of a digital economy. While higher salaries are generally not on offer in the UK, these candidates appear to be attracted to the lower cost of living in the UK, and the fact that certain items such as Utility Bills, Shopping Baskets, Healthcare and Childcare require a higher percentage of disposable income in Ireland. Irish Employers might go some way to addressing this by offering higher salaries, more benefits, access to ongoing training (digital is constantly changing and requires constant learning), and flexible working hours (much of what can in fact be done in the Digital sector can be done remotely and is measurable), and the opportunity to work on innovative or prestigious products / campaigns.

How our 2011 Survey compares with our 2009 Survey

While other sectors have implemented salary decreases since 2009, the Digital Sector has more or less maintained 2009 salary levels - either staying as they were or slightly increasing. Salaries for interactive designers and web developers have increased by about 10 - 15% in the mid-level to senior ranges. Salaries for SEO and PPC specialists have stayed the same - we surmise for two reasons: there was a marked shortage of these candidates in 2009, and secondly the ascendancy of Social Media has lessened the domination of Search Engines as a marketing tool. Salaries for strong Digital Account Managers and Directors have seen increases of up to 25%. This is due to more traditional agencies diversifying into digital, and an increase in the amount of purely digital agencies. Digital roles that have a strategic / planning / implementation function are commanding higher salaries than they were in 2009. While a Digital Planner would have made between €35 and 42k in 2009, they can now expect to realise between €45 and 60k. The same can be said for Digital Marketing Managers. We find that as many businesses are incorporating digital into their sales and marketing strategies, there is strong competition for good Digital Marketing Managers, and while back in 2009, salaries were generally in the range of €45 - 65k, they are now in the range of €55 - 75k. While Head Ecommerce roles were being pitched at a cap of €110k back in 2009, the higher point of the salary range can now be €130k or more.

The big change from 2009 to 2011 is the massive increase in roles - an experienced candidate from the digital sector will not struggle to find a new role, and we find that most of our placements are as a result of us headhunting passive candidates as there are few experienced people who are out of work in the digital sector.