What are the top-paying jobs for graduates?

From engineering to legal, there are excellent opportunities for the class of 2018

The class of 2010 can only look on in quiet rage: more than 75 per cent of employers plan to give their staff pay rises this year, according to a recent report.

The move comes as employers increasingly struggle to find the right staff to fill jobs in our fast-growing economy, and the so-called "war for talent" hots up. Mark Mitchell, director of gradireland.com and postgradireland.com, says that the pay expectations of graduates are rising and some employers may struggle to meet them.

And if they can’t pay, they’re increasingly incentivising graduates with perks like flexitime, working at home, longer holidays or benefits.

"We've been tracking and reporting placement and starting salaries for the last 10 years based on ranges employers give us when they register jobs and what candidates tell us they are earning," says Rob Daly, senior director at Cpl, which also compiles an annual salary guide.


“We are seeing salaries increase across professional jobs, and we’re also seeing that internships for third-level students – or pre-qualified graduates – are now nearly all paid for.”

Cpl’s analysis finds that the hottest payment sectors include computer science, software engineering, programming, pharmacy and medical devices. But there’s more.

Digital explosion

"We are seeing an online and digital explosion," says Daly. "Companies like Hubspot and Google are attracting top talent and they're paying well, but we're also seeing smaller companies and start-ups benefit from their presence in Ireland. Starting salaries can range anywhere from €22,000-30,000."

In accounting and consulting, Daly says that graduates can expect to significantly increase their earnings within a decade and that earnings continue to rise throughout their career. On the other hand, teachers start off on a relatively high salary – more than €34,000 – but they can struggle to increase their earnings over time, and there is a growing crisis in teacher supply.

“These two areas are connected,” Daly suggests. “If we don’t produce enough strong, passionate and keen teachers then we won’t produce the top-quality graduates we need for areas such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals.”

There are excellent opportunities for the current crop of graduates, says Daly. “You don’t have to be coming in to a company and hitting the ground running; they’re willing to put the investment in to train you up, even though that can take at least nine months and the investment can be lost if the graduates leave after the first year. Ultimately they want people with certain hard-to-find skills.”

To see the full Cpl salary guide, see Cpl.ie/Home/Salary-Guide-2018

Pay Up: What can you expect

The following figures are a snapshot from Cpl’s 2018 salary survey. All figures here are at the lower end of salary scales and are in thousands of euro. All jobs are non-managerial positions, reflecting the likely starting points for graduates:


Chemical engineer: €60K (Dublin), €40K (outside Dublin)

Health and safety engineer: €45K (Dublin), €40K (outside Dublin)

Electrical engineer (contract): €35K

Construction and property

Chartered civil engineer: €45K

Associate architect: €60K

Junior quantity surveyor: €25K

Financial services

Graduate fund accounting: €23K

Newly qualified accountant: €45K

Enterprise risk specialist: €50K

Junior risk analyst: €40K

Sales and marketing associate: €30K


Newly qualified solicitor: €40K

Solicitor (1-3 years experience): €50K

Legal executive trainee: €28K

Business, sales, supply chain and insurance

HR generalist: €35K (Dublin), €30K (outside Dublin)

Junior insurance administrator: €25K

Social media executive: €35K (Dublin), €28K (outside Dublin)

PR account executive: €30K (Dublin), €25K (outside Dublin)

Sales executive: €28K (Dublin), €25K (outside Dublin)

Procurement officer: €40K (Dublin), €35K (outside Dublin)


Customer service agent with language: €24K (Dublin), €20K (outside Dublin)

Cloud sales with language: €35K (Dublin), €34K (outside Dublin)

Online media with language: €26K (Dublin), €28K (outside Dublin)


Assistant manager, convenience: €24K

Trainee manager: €23K


Biotechnologist: €45K (Dublin)

Biochemist/ chemist: €30K (Dublin), €28K (outside Dublin)

Clinical research officer: €30K

Pharmaceutical engineer: €40K (Dublin), €37K (outside Dublin)


UI/UX designer: €45K

PHP/ web developer: €24K

Database administrator: €35K