Working in Ireland
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Employment in Ireland was affected by the recent global financial crisis and as a result unemployment levels increased from 5% to around 15%. A recovery is now starting to show however and there's been a growth in full and part-time employment across the majority of sectors. It's thought that unemployment levels will now be at around 12%.
Some careers require registration with the relevant Irish professional association and candidates need to have the qualifications and training that meet Irish standards and conditions. This means your qualifications may not be directly transferable.
There is intense competition from other graduates, so try to give yourself an advantage by getting relevant work experience or further qualifications.
English and Irish (Gaeilge) are the official languages of Ireland. You'll need to be fluent in English to get work and some jobs may also require knowledge of Irish.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: pharmaceuticals and chemicals, food and drink including brewing, medical devices, computer software and hardware, and digital media.
- Industries in decline: sectors still affected by the recession include retail, clerical and administration, and craft including architects, quantity surveyors, plumbers and electricians.
- Shortage occupations: sectors where jobs are commonly available include IT, science (pharma-chem, biotech, food and beverages), engineering (polymer technology, process engineering), healthcare (medical practitioners, specialist nurses), business and finance (statisticians, accountants, risk analysts), transport and logistics (supply chain managers), sales and customer service (particularly for those with language skills).
- Major companies: Eaton (power management), Accenture (computer services), Covidien (medical equipment), XL Group (insurance), Seagate Technology (computer storage), Ingersoll-Rand (conglomerates), CRH (construction materials), Allied Irish Banks, Actavis (pharmaceuticals), Bank of Ireland.
What’s it like working in Ireland?
- Average working hours: the average Irish working week is 39 hours and the maximum working week is 48 hours. Working hours are governed by EU directives.
- Holidays: you're entitled to a minimum of four weeks holiday and the nine public holidays every year.
- Tax rates: all EU/EEA nationals living and working in Ireland pay tax in the same way as Irish nationals. The two bands for personal income tax are 20% and 41% depending on your salary. See Revenue – Irish Tax and Customs for more information. Don't forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure you're not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
You don't need to be in Ireland to apply for jobs or secure a job before you go. The main methods for applying for jobs are the same as in the UK – a CV and covering letter or an application form, which may sometimes be an online version.
Your CV can follow the same format as the one you use in the UK. Include information on your language skills, particularly if English isn’t your first language or if you can speak other languages.
Make sure your covering letter or application form includes information on why you'd like to live and work in Ireland. See Gradireland for further information.
Interviews also follow the same formats as those in the UK. Get more applications and CV advice.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), UK qualifications are usually recognised by an employer. You should note though that some professions may demand different credentials and qualifications to those required in the UK.
- Golden Pages: Ireland is Ireland's Yellow Pages which can be used to search for recruitment agencies.
- National Recruitment Federation has links to recruitment agencies in Ireland.
For a full list of the newspapers in Ireland see Kidon Media-Link.
It may be possible to secure work through speculative applications. Make sure you research the company thoroughly and be clear of what skills or experience you can offer to the organisation.
Information on graduate and internship positions and careers fairs is available on Gradireland.
Getting work experience
Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020 and covers student exchange, work experience and volunteering opportunities. Both under and postgraduate students can study abroad for 3 to 12 months. Erasmus+ also provides opportunities for work experience for students to learn new skills or languages, as well as volunteering in different countries for between 2 weeks and 12 months.
Work placements and internships
- There's the opportunity to participate in international internships in areas such as management, technology, education, and development through AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales).
- Opportunities for placements and internships in Ireland are advertised through Europlacement.
- If you are a science, engineering or applied arts undergraduate you may be able to get a course-related placement through IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience).
- Work experience and internship opportunities and advice is available from Gradireland.
- A list of various internship programmes in Ireland can be found at Intern Abroad.
- You can also get help to gain professional work experience that's relevant to your studies or chosen career through Internships Ireland.
It may be possible to work in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) in Ireland. MEI Schools have 54 member schools around Ireland and employ TEFL teachers. TEFL courses are available in Ireland through organisations such as TEFL Ireland and International House Dublin (which also employs TEFL teachers).
Casual work is often seasonal and related to the tourism industry. You can approach employers directly or use employment agencies.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
- Adventure Ireland offers a sports and culture programme that lasts for 11 weeks.
- Gradireland has an area dedicated to work experience and advice on gap years.
- There are many volunteering opportunities available in Ireland through Volunteer Ireland. They have local volunteer centres as well as a database of opportunities.
- Volunteer Abroad also has various opportunities in Ireland.
Do you need a visa?
You don't need a visa to enter Ireland if you're an EU citizen. Citizens of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are also able to enter Ireland without a visa.
EU nationals have the right to stay in Ireland for up to three months without restrictions. If you plan to stay for longer you must meet certain requirements:
- be employed or self-employed, or
- have sufficient resources and sickness insurance, or
- be enrolled as a student/vocational trainee, or
- be a family member of an EU citizen in one of the above categories.
Citizens of non-EU countries may need a visa and can find out more information and apply for a visa online through the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
If you're an EU citizen you can work in Ireland without a work permit. Non-EU citizens may be required to have a permit. You can contact the Irish embassy in the country where you're currently living, or if you’re in the UK, go to the Embassy of Ireland.
How do you become a permanent resident?
Foreign nationals are able to apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation but to do so they must have been resident in Ireland for a certain length of time. All applications are decided by the Minister for Justice and Equality and further information can be found at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
Living in Ireland
- Cost of living: Ireland has one of the highest costs of living in Europe. Property rental prices are high, particularly in Dublin. Be prepared to pay higher than average prices for food, drink and clothing.
- Internet domain: .ie
- Currency: euro
- Health: if you are an EU national you should ensure you have a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. This doesn’t replace medical or travel insurance but does entitle you to state-provided medical treatment while in Ireland. You’ll be treated the same as an Irish national, so if they had to pay for treatment, you would too. The Health Service Executive in Ireland issues medical cards which allow the bearer to obtain certain health services for free. You may be entitled to a health card if your income is below a certain level.
- Type of government: republic, parliamentary democracy
- Laws and customs: it is illegal to smoke in places of employment in Ireland, this covers pubs, restaurants, offices, public buildings and many other locations. Holding and using a mobile phone while driving is banned. Possession of even small quantities of drugs can lead to long terms of imprisonment.
- Emergency numbers: The emergency number for the police, ambulance or fire service is the same as in the UK – 999. You can also use the European emergency number of 112. British citizens can get help in an emergency from the British Embassy Ireland.
- People: Irish 84.5%, other white 9.8%, Asian 1.9%, black 1.4%, mixed and other 0.9%
- Major religion: Roman Catholic 84.7%, plus Church of Ireland 2.7%, other Christian 2.7% and Muslim 1.1%