Contract Work in Ireland

A growing number of techies are choosing contract jobs over permanent positions, preferring the flexibility, variety and high financial return offered by freelance work. Contracting can be a great option; here’s all you need to know to get started in Ireland.

Benefits of Contract Work

There are numerous advantages to working as a contractor in Ireland’s tech industry. As a contractor, you are your own boss. You can choose what firms you want to work with, which projects interest you and when you want to work. The more contracts you complete, the more you develop your own skill base and the more experienced and marketable you become. Most of the time, as a contractor, you will earn a significantly higher hourly or daily rate than you would in a comparable permanent role.


Skills in High Demand

Many contracting jobs in Ireland require people with specific, technical skills. Programme and application developers with Java, Python, Scala, Ruby and .Net skills are always in high demand, as are web developers and UI/UX designers with HTML, CSS and PHP skills. Mobile developers with iOS and Android experience are also sought after, while for those working with Big Data, proficiency with Oracle, SQL, NoSQL, Hadoop and Statistical Analysis are valued.

Of course, there are many other roles available for contract workers too, and the required skills fluctuate depending on shortages in the labour market. Paying attention to job boards, websites, and professional networking sites will help you stay up to date on the many different types of contract work available.


Working as a Contractor

If you’re considering working as a contractor in Ireland, you have a number of options. Perhaps the simplest way to get started is to join an agency, who will manage the tax and administrative side of your work for you. If you’d prefer to work entirely independently, you can work as a self-employed person. In this case, you can choose between registering with Revenue as a Sole Trader or Limited Company. For more information on Revenue and Ireland’s tax system, see our Tax in Ireland page.


Contract Work through an Agency

When performing contract work through an agency, you are officially an employee of the agency. They will liaise with clients and arrange contract placements for you. The agency will deduct tax and social insurance from your income on your behalf. Because of this, you will usually earn a little less than if you were working as a self-employed contractor, but you will still typically earn much more than a traditional employee.


Contract Work as Self-Employed

To legally invoice as a Contractor, you must be registered with Irish Revenue as a self-employed person. You must disclose full and accurate details of your income and expenses so that you can be taxed accordingly. It’s very important to keep all records of invoices and payments and to ensure you’re providing the required information to Revenue. Many self-employed contractors avail of accountancy services to manage their finances and taxes. Self-employed contractors can operate as either Sole Traders or Limited Companies.

If you only plan to work as a contractor for a short time, being a Sole Trader may be advisable as it is easier to set up and there is no need to register with the CRO (Company Registration Office). However, you’ll still need to register for a VAT/RSI number. As a Sole Contractor, you are responsible for all debts incurred.

If you plan to work as a contractor for a longer period of time, and for multiple clients, registering as a Limited Company is a good idea. It can be a little more complicated to set up, and you must register with the CRO, but it is more tax efficient and provides limited debt liability. For more information on registering as Self-Employed and your responsibilities regarding tax, see


Co-working Spaces

The “co-working” revolution has seen shared, open-plan office space and hot desks spring up all around the country. It can be a flexible and affordable option for contractors, but it’s about much more than just having access to a desk and internet connection. Co-working spaces foster collaboration, allowing different kinds of techies to connect, swap ideas, and have an impromptu brainstorming session over coffee. In Dublin, start with Dogpatch Labs, CoCreate and Tcube. Elsewhere, check out Galway’s Do-Space, Limerick’s Nexus Innovation Centre and and the Fumbally Exchange in Waterford.