For Newly Qualified Accountants It’s Sometimes All About The Base…

Copy of Salary Data NQ 2022 (2)

As a newly qualified accountant coming out of training contract in 2022, there are lots of things you’ll be thinking and wondering about. For many people, just like you, money is usually high on the agenda.  You have, after all, worked hard and sacrificed a lot, so it’s only fair to be compensated correctly for the value of your time.

What’s the going salary for a newly qualified accountant? What information is accurate and what can I rely on? I heard Mary got 52K and Laura got 62K – what does that mean?  How do I benchmark my salary against the going ‘rate’ out there?

…nobody wants to be short-changed.

Thanks to The Bottom Line, by Accountancy Ireland and Chartered Accountants Ireland, who recently published this piece by Ed Heffernan, Managing Partner, Barden.

Well, look no further…

Most salary surveys give you an average or range. But depending on the sample size, the average figure can be skewed, and often doesn’t give a true reflection of the actual base salary.  And sometimes (more than you might imagine) the numbers are not based on surveys but on sentiment.  I don’t know about you but I prefer to use hard data when making big decisions that affect my life…

Over the last 6 months, across Dublin*, we’ve helped lots of newly qualified accountants make their first move after their training contract. For fun we tracked their base salaries (yes that’s what we regard as fun here in Barden!) and created some real-time data points, just for you.  We do this every year but this time around we noticed a few anomalies.  Instead of grouping the 6 months of data we broke the data out into Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 just to see if there was any noticeable shift in numbers over the past 6 months.  Wow were we surprised!

Interesting, right?  There are a couple of things that really stand out for us in the above; namely:

  • A  median salary in Q4 last year was 55K (the same as it had been for a number of years previous).  This median shifted from 55K to 58K Qtr on Qtr.  This is the most dramatic shift in median base salary we have ever seen and it has occurred over an incredibly short time frame.
  •  60K salaries were outliers in Q4 2021 but have become increasingly common in Q1 2022.  Worth noting behind the numbers is that Group Accountant type roles in Plc teams have held steady across the market at 57K in Q1.  Roles offered at 60K have tended to be either more niche roles in larger teams OR roles with an internal audit or heavy stat element.
  • We have seen evidence of base salaries in some companies going as high as 65K but these are very much outliers and only seen in larger lessor environments and one telco in Dublin that appears to be offering 65K base salaries at present. To include those figures would distort the broader market norms, hence we have not included them in this data set.
(*these are Dublin-only numbers.  For outside Dublin, you would typically apply a 10% reduction on-base +/- 2.5 % depending on location.  For bespoke advice on salaries in your location contact one of our team below.)

Now here are the two big caveats:

  • Base salary is only a part of Total Compensation (Base + Package) – want to know about total comp for newly qualified accountants? Ask one of our experts in Barden and they’ll set you on the right track.
  • Sometimes…people get paid a higher base for the same job in a different company. Why?  It could be that one company offers additional benefits and the other doesn’t, it could be because one role has a lot of travel and the other doesn’t, it could be that one company finds it harder to attract accountants than the other, or it could be due to a whole host of other variables.  When it comes to base salary, make sure you’re not comparing apples with oranges; ask one of our expert team in Barden first.

It should not be all about the base in your first few moves PQE. You may not have prepared a set of accounts yet, you may not have done a month-end management pack, in fact, there are probably a lot of things that you’ve yet to get practical experience in.  Your first few years PQE should really be about getting good experience working with great people…and of course getting fairly paid while you do.

It’s not really about your base salary now; it’s about what your base salary will be in ten years’ time and for the twenty or thirty years after that. Earning follows learning, not the other way around.

If you’re curious, want to learn more and want to base your life decisions on actual data make sure you contact Ed Heffernan ( for Leinster or Siobhán Sexton ( for Munster and they will take it from there.  Simple.

Source: The Bottom Line, Accountancy Ireland, see here.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to and we will take it from there. Easy.

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