A survey carried out by Invest NI has shown that Belfast technology workers are among the lowest-paid in Europe. The report, carried out by Watson Wyatt on behalf of the Northern Ireland investment agency, said that high-tech salaries in Belfast are among the lowest of cities surveyed in the UK, Europe, the US and Canada. Only Bangalore in India, and Budapest and Prague in Eastern Europe, have lower salary levels, the report said.
In particular, the data proves that IT workers in Dublin tend to be paid dramatically more than their Belfast counterparts, with wages coming in 27 per cent higher on average in the capital of the Republic of Ireland.
The most dramatic difference can be seen in the salaries paid to junior programmers in the two cities. On average, a junior programmer in Belfast earns about €26,005 a year, compared with €44,014 for an employee in the same job in Dublin. In London, a junior programmer is paid about €47,065 a year, or 81 per cent more than a junior programmer in Belfast.
Meanwhile, the average senior programmer in Dublin earns some €66,515 a year, while a person in that position in Belfast would bring in €51,517 annually. Invest NI also noted that a starting salary for the average IT worker in Belfast is about €23,892, or almost €10,000 a year less than the average staring salary in Dublin.
The survey also showed that a head of IT in Dublin earns about 18 per cent more than the same worker in Belfast, who, on average, would be on about €91,251 per year. In London, a head of IT would be earning around €112,630 per year.
"The findings of this survey are evidence that employer costs are significantly lower in Belfast than Dublin, London or the majority of EU countries," commented Trevor Killen, director, Invest NI. "This is positive news for inward investment into Northern Ireland and is further evidence that companies based here should consider the North as their location of choice."
Still, experts have noted that corporation taxes are lower in the Republic compared to Northern Ireland and wages in cities outside Dublin tend to be lower. In Cork, for example, IT workers can expect to earn somewhere around 5 per cent less a year than in Dublin. It is also worth noting that personal income tax rates are higher in the Republic, as is the cost of living.
Furthermore, Dublin-based IT workers tend to earn rather small bonuses compared to their Belfast and London counterparts. For example, the average head of IT in London earns an annual bonus of €21,210 and a head of IT in a Belfast operation will enjoy a bonus of €11,902 on average. In Dublin, the figure is notably smaller at €6,371. Invest Northern Ireland also admitted that the majority of IT companies in the Republic of Ireland do not pay medical benefit, while IT companies in Belfast and elsewhere in the UK, as well as firms in the US, provide some form of healthcare.
Interestingly, the report noted that a head of IT in Bangalore, India, earns around €21,078 per year, while a junior programmer in the same city would earn €4,800 annually. A Bangalore graduate programmer can expect to earn €2,269 per year.
Possibly the most expensive city on Earth to hire IT staff is San Francisco, where a head of IT will earn some €165,331 per year, on average, compared to €91,251 in Belfast and €107,253 in Dublin.