The tech sector in Ireland has been growing steadily over the last two decades and Dublin, in particular, is now considered one of the top European tech hubs. But anyone who lives here understands that the tech scene is so much more than ‘Silicon Docks’ in the capital.
Limerick, Galway, and Cork have always offered some great opportunities for a software developer who is willing to look outside Dublin for a chance to progress their career. And that looks set to continue as numerous multinational companies invest in campuses across Ireland while an incredible number of tech startups enter the industry. In fact, the demand for good software developers is so high that it’s now considered one of the top 10 roles in 2023.
But what about salaries? Do developers across Ireland earn the same as those in the capital? The simple and most obvious answer to that is no, but that’s not telling the whole story. Before we take a deeper dive into the impact of location on salaries, let’s take a look at a few general factors.
General Factors Affecting Software Developer Salaries
Experience and Skill Level
Okay, so this goes without saying, but we did say that these are general factors so bear with us. Experience and skill level are perhaps the two most important factors when it comes to determining a software developer’s salary. However, there’s a fine line that recruiters and hiring companies walk when taking experience into consideration. We won’t go into too much detail on this suffice to say that more years on the clock doesn’t necessarily equate to a higher salary.
Different industries have different salary scales for software engineers; it’s a simple fact that many starting out in the workplace don’t realise. For example, a developer in the fintech industry might earn more than one in healthcare. Generally speaking, software developers that work in the online security space tend to earn the highest salaries, but this is not something that is set in stone.
Of course, there are many software developers out there in the higher salaries ranges that have a simple college degree. However, further education and qualifications can certainly have an impact on salary. This is particularly true when a developer specialises in one area or industry.
It goes without saying that larger companies have bigger budgets for staff and so the size of the company may have an impact on salary. Any candidate who has navigated the Irish software jobs market will know only too well that this is noticeably true in the startup scene.
Last but not least are the negotiation skills that a candidate may bring into the interview room. We’ve experienced this ourselves at Software Placements; the simple fact is that some people are better at knowing their worth and asking for what they feel they deserve.
Location, Location, Location
The location of a role within Ireland itself can significantly affect a developer's salary. Dublin, being the capital city and a tech hub, generally offers higher salaries compared to other regions like Cork, Limerick, or Galway. For example, the average salary for a software developer in Dublin is €65,000. This drops to €56,905 per year for developers based in Galway while Limerick and Cork show similar ranges to Galway.
So why is this?
Cities or regions that have a high demand for tech skills usually offer better salaries. This is to attract not only the best talent but more talent. The higher salaries in Dublin, for instance, are not just due to the high cost of living but also the higher concentration of tech companies and startups looking for skilled developers which leads us to our next point.
As we just noted, more companies usually means higher salaries as the competition for talent can be quite fierce. This can also lead to a higher turnover rate for software developers as there are more opportunities for career progress at competing companies. It’s also important to note that the inverse is also true: a lack of competition can keep salaries at a lower range.
The health of the local economy can have a massive impact on salaries. If a region or city is thriving, companies are more likely to offer competitive salaries to attract the best talent. On the other hand, in economically depressed areas, companies tend to offer lower salaries due to reduced revenue or budget constraints.
Cost-of-living seems to be something we hear about constantly on the news of late, but even outside of the current crisis, general living costs will certainly play a part in determining a salary or salary range. They are also factors that you must keep in mind when choosing an area to target in your search for a role.
Dublin, where a large number of tech jobs are located, has some of the highest rents in Ireland. At present, the average rent for Dublin is around €2,300+ while in Galway it’s lower at approximately €1,800+. Cork is slightly lower at €1700+ and Limerick is around €1,600+. While companies generally don’t offer higher salaries based on rental prices, there’s no doubt that candidates are only interested in roles that offer sustainable salaries that can easily cover rental costs.
Now this is where public transportation in larger cities can have an impact on salaries. Good public transport links can reduce commuting costs a great deal in the likes of Dublin. However, in Galway where public transport is quite poor and many people living outside the city need to travel to work by car, these costs can rise significantly.
Yes, it’s true that the likes of Dublin and Cork may offer better leisure activities and amenities than Galway or rural areas. However, these often come at a cost. For example, dining out in Dublin is considerably more expensive than Limerick or Galway.
At the end of the day, your choice of location shouldn’t necessarily depend on salary as simply looking for the highest range on offer doesn’t always mean you’ll earn more. Your decision should be based on the potential for career progression, lifestyle in your chosen location and those all-important living costs.
If you’re not sure where you’d like to target in your search for a software developer role, get in touch with us here at Software Placements. While we’re based in Dublin, we have lots of experience placing candidates in roles throughout Ireland.