Contractor Profile

“Working as a contractor offers financial advantages over traditional employment. Contractors enjoy greater flexibility, potential for higher earnings, and the ability to optimise tax strategies, providing more control over personal financial outcomes.”
Quote from Respondent


Ireland’s Project Economy is the term that captures Ireland’s independent professionals who choose to be self-employed. They are dispersed throughout industry but are over-represented in Pharma, ICT, Finance, Engineering and Medical Locum sectors. They predominantly work on projects of fixed terms for agreed daily rates, though a minority 14% of them also complete more routine ‘gigs’ or ‘tasks.’ They are highly skilled individuals and tend to be well educated with more than 95% of this year’s respondents having attained third level qualifications of 6 or higher on the National Framework of Qualifications. They tend to be older and have an average age of 48 years as they need time and experience to build up their valuable skill sets.


The average and the median age of respondents was 48 years old, a year younger than both 2023 and 2022 results. 72% of respondents were 40 years or older, and 46% of these were 50 years or more, indicating that a certain amount of time and experience is necessary to develop a valuable skill set before contracting is an option. The oldest contractor is 92 years, and the youngest contractor is 21.


Average Age


Oldest Age


Youngest Age

Education Profile

Independent professionals are highly educated with almost (95%) of respondents having attained third level qualifications of level 6 or higher on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Where the Work Happens

Most of the work is based in Ireland with around 12% involving international trade in professional contractor services, of which 2% is with the UK and 5% each with the EU and the rest of the world.  Within Ireland, larger cities account for the majority of the work with 78% of the Survey respondents working in Dublin and Cork, 5% working in Limerick, and 3% working in both Kildare and Galway.

2024 2023
Antrim 0.3% 0.8%
Carlow 0.9% 0.3%
Clare 0.1% 1.1%
Cork 18.3% 16.9%
Dublin 59.7% 61.8%
Galway 2.5% 3%
Kerry 0.7% 0.6%
Kildare 3.3% 2.4%
Kilkenny 0.5% 0.5%
Laois 0.1% 0.3%
Limerick 4.5% 3.7%
Louth 0.9% 0.3%
Mayo 0.4% 0.3%
Meath 0.8% 0.6%
Offaly 0.1% 0.3%
Roscommon 0.1% 0.2%
Sligo 0.4% 1%
Tipperary 1.5% 1.3%
Waterford 1.7% 1.6%
Westmeath 0.8% 1%
Wexford 0.9% 1.1%
Wicklow 0.5% 0.8%

Gender Split

While women are still under-represented in the contracting sector the results this year show female contractors have increased as a percentage to 27%, an increase of 3 percentage points on both 2023 and 2022 where females accounted for 24% of total contractors. Male contractors still dominate the contracting space at 72%. 1% did not state their gender.


Contractors are distributed throughout the economy, but they are over-represented in key sectors such as Pharma, Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and Finance. The majority 79% operate in the private sector, a figure that has remained relatively stable over the past 4 years. Furthermore, 70% of contractors stated they work for a single client at any one time, while 30% engage with multiple clients.



Work with one client at a time


Work in Dublin


Operate in the private sector

My Office Is

The move to return to office that we see in industry generally is also being reported in the contracting sector. Pre-Covid 13% of independent professionals reported working from home with 63% working in client offices. During Covid the number of respondents who reported working at home increased to 67% with just 16% working in client offices*. In 2024 half of the respondents reported that they still work at home very often or always, this number was 60% in the 2023 report, this shows that contractors are returning to work in client offices; although a structural shift to hybrid working is evident. Survey results for 2024 show 33% of respondents never or infrequently work at home compared with a reported 25% in 2023. Participants in the 2024 survey reveal that 29% work in client offices very often or always as opposed to 24% in 2023. 74% of 2024 respondents reported that they never worked in public spaces, up 2% on 2023’s figure signalling that this appears to be an unattractive option for contractors.

* Ireland Project Economy 2021

Contracting as a Career

A total of 81% of contractors voluntarily choose to contract, up slightly from 78% in 2023. Having a network is important to ensure a continuous stream of work with 36% of respondents relying on their own initiative to find new work. 19% rely solely on third parties (such as contract recruiters) to help them find their next contract. This has changed significantly from 2023 when 35% of contractors reported relying solely on third parties. 36% of 2024 participants used both approaches.

The average time respondents spent looking for a new contract was 9 days and 62% of respondents reported no gap between contracts. Over the past 4 years there has been a marked reduction in the average time independent professionals spend looking for work. In 2021 independent professionals spent 5 weeks looking for work, in 2022 this had reduced to 18 days and in 2023 this had dropped to 10 days. This is likely an indication of more companies utilising a blended workforce leading to more availability of contract work.


Of contractors choose to be contractors


The number of days spent looking for a contract


Of respondents reported no gap between contracts

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Contractor Profile

  • Contract Length
  • Holidays
  • Motivation
  • Daily Rates across industries...

Data Table

Education Profile

Independent professionals are well educated with almost (95%) of respondents having attained third level qualifications of level 6 or higher on the National Framework of Qualifications.

2024 2023 2022 2021
No formal qualifications 1% 1% n/a n/a
Junior Certificate 0% 1% n/a n/a
Leaving Certificate 4% 3% 4% 5%
Advanced Certificate/Higher Certificate 7% 9% 10% 11%
Bachelor’s Degree 35% 37% 43% 44%
Master’s Degree 36% 32% 38% 37%
Doctoral Degree n/a 2% 5% 3%
Other professional qualifications 17% 15% n/a

Data Table

Industry Sector

2024 2023 2022 2021
Public sector 16% 16% 17% 16%
Private sector 79% 77% 77% 80%
Charitable/Not for profit 3% 5% 4% 2%
Other 1% 2% 2% 2%

My Office Is

At home In client company Working in public spaces
Never (0%) 15% 16% 74%
Infrequently (1-30%) 18% 39% 20%
Often (31-60%) 17% 16% 2%
Very often (61-99%) 38% 17% 2%
Always (100%) 12% 12% 2%