2024 Trinity College Study - Ireland’s Independent Professionals earning €126,117 – 2.6 times the national average salary.

Ireland’s Independent Professionals: Driving Economic Growth

Independent self-employed professionals in Ireland are earning an average of €126,117 annually—over 2.6 times the average salary of traditional employees (€47,936). This earning potential has increased 5% on 2023 and reflects their highly skilled nature and in-demand experience.

Professor Andrew Burke

High-skilled freelancers provide firms with swift access to a vast array of expertise which can be deployed just for the duration required, thereby enabling Ireland’s knowledge-based economy to perform beyond the confines of an employee-only model.  The premium earnings of high-skilled freelancers indicate that they capture a share of this extra economic value added that they help create.  The dynamic capabilities enabled by these high-skilled freelancers are critical to the international competitiveness and performance of both multinationals and SMEs based in Ireland”.

About the research

The independent research conducted in February and March of this year by Professors Andrew Burke and Na Fu of Trinity Business School, and sponsored by Contracting PLUS, has revealed new insights into Ireland's independent professional contractors, freelancers, solopreneurs, and the self-employed.

Now in its fourth consecutive year, this unique study confirms the economic power of the project economy and continues to shed light on the essential contributions and distinctive nature of this dynamic workforce.

Over 1,500 respondents participated in this year’s online independent survey by Trinity Business School, which highlights the economic and innovative impact of these professionals.

Its not the Gig Economy; The Project Economy is bigger.

These workers are at the forefront of innovation and over-represented in dynamic industries such as Pharma, Life Sciences, Med Devices, IT, Engineering, and Finance.

Professor Na Fu

“81% of those surveyed choose this career path (up from 78% in 2023). They are attracted by reward, opportunity, and the ability to work independently on projects they choose. 83% reported being satisfied with their work”.

Closing the Gaps: Gender Equality evident in Ireland’s Project Economy.

Jimmy Sheehan, Managing Director of Contracting Plus highlights how the project economy features a progressive stance for age and gender equality;

“Earnings increase with age and women in the 50-59 age bracket earn 8% more than their male counterparts. The results also show a reduction in the average earnings gender pay gap now 6.4% down from 10.54% in 2023 and 17.5% in 2022. These, finding mark a significant step towards closing the gender pay gap and promoting inclusivity”.

The last recorded national average gender pay gap was 9.6% (CSO 2022).

Recognition, Respect, and High-Satisfaction for the over 60s

The results show the expertise of seasoned professionals is highly valued. Those over 60 who often face bias in other sectors, and indeed employment, find their contribution respected and rewarded in the project economy, making them among the top earners.

Their experience and wisdom drive innovation and efficiency, essential for the evolving marketplace. However, the benefits associated with age in this sector are not only financial, high levels of satisfaction in life and work are also reported in the statistics.

The Freelance Advantage: Agile, Innovative, Indispensable

This research not only highlights the critical contributions of Ireland’s high-skilled self-employed workforce but also provides a foundation for further support and recognition of their unique needs and potential.

Further information

About Trinity Business School

Trinity Business School, part of Trinity College Dublin, is a leader in business education and research, dedicated to developing the next generation of business leaders.

About Contracting PLUS

Contracting PLUS is Ireland's leading provider of accounting, tax and financial services to independent contractors, freelancers, and self-employed professionals, offering a range of solutions to help manage their business needs.

About the researchers

Professor Andrew Burke,

Chair of Business Studies at Trinity College Dublin

Professor Andrew Burke is the Chair of Business Studies at Trinity College Dublin. He served as Dean from 2015 to 2023. He is a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, served on the University Board and Audit Committee, and on the Governing Body of UCD. Previously, he was the Bettany Chair and Founding Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield School of Management, UK.

From 2014 to 2020, he chaired the Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE) in London.. His research is published in top international journals, including the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Management Studies, and has been presented at the EU Commission, World Trade Organization, UK Parliament.

Professor Na Fu,

Professor of Human Resource Management at Trinity Business School

Professor Na Fu is a professor of human resource management and Co-Director of the Trinity Centre for Digital Business and Analytics. She founded and directs, the award-winning MSc in Human Resource Management programme. Her research focuses on strategic HRM, professional service firms, people analytics, and digital transformation, with extensive publications in high-impact journals.

Insights from her research have been applied by professional bodies like the Great Place to Work and the CIPD. She is a respected speaker, keynote presenter at industry events, judge for industry awards, and publisher of industry reports that inform policymakers.

Media Contact:
Geraldine Penney
087 704 2255