What’s going on in the NI Tech Market ?

What’s going on in the NI Tech Market ?

15 October 2021 by Katie

It should come as no surprise to anyone at this point that Northern Ireland is becoming one of the UK’s largest and most successful locations for the tech industry, but what is it that’s making it so successful? And what are companies doing to look after their current employees? Is the market really as busy as they say?


Well, if you’re considering moving on and looking for a new challenge, there truly hasn’t been a better time to do it. I think people had this fear of moving jobs in the middle of a pandemic, that they would move jobs only to be “last one in, first one out”. From what I’ve seen, this just simply isn’t the case in the world of IT.


Tech companies all across Northern Ireland are hiring and building out their software development teams. Firms are increasing salaries higher than they have been before because the candidate market really is THAT competitive and companies are counter-offering to hold onto their staff tighter than they’ve ever held on before.

Below is a chart I have put together of the software roles I usually work on, the lowest and highest salaries I’ve seen that companies I’ve worked with have offered:

Associate/Junior Software Developer1-2£25,000£40,000
Mid-Level Software Developer2-3£30,000£55,000
Senior Software Developer3+£35,000£70,000
Staff Developer7+£60,000£90,000
Grad Software Tester0-1£21,000£28,000
Mid-Level Software Tester2-3£30,000£45,000
Senior Software Tester3+£45,000£60,000
Lead Software Tester4+£55,000£70,000
QA Architect6+£65,000£80,000


The above chart in no way represents EVERY company, only the ones I have worked with, but I think it’s pretty telling in what developers and testers can expect salary wise from today’s market. I know of a developer with nearly 2 years’ experience who was currently making around £30k. She was offered a job elsewhere at £35k but her current company offered her a £50k counter-offer – which she accepted. That’s a £20k salary increase to keep hold of her!


The demand for software engineers and software testers is incredibly high. Companies are having to put all their best cards on the table with some benefits that would have been unheard of only a matter of years ago: Unlimited holidays, 15% bonuses, 10% pensions, paying for a candidate’s education, monthly allowances for working at home and hundreds of pounds being put towards setting up a candidate’s home office.

Some firms have even gone as far as to changing their interview process entirely. Firms that used to require tech tests and/or 3-4 stage interviews, are now only asking for a technical chat and an informal conversation between manager and candidate. They are starting to focus more on the fit of the individual – their willingness to learn, their approach to work, their personality fit within the culture etc. And the speed at which devs and testers are being swooped up is unmatched. These days clients need to make decisions on applications as soon as possible or the candidate will be gone within a matter of days.


Speaking of culture, did you know that most candidates don’t really care what type of company they work for as long as they enjoy who they work with? This isn’t exactly a revelation, obviously enjoying who we work with is a big factor, but I’m finding more and more people telling me that their main reason for seeking employment elsewhere has nothing to do with their salary or benefits, but to do with the training they’re given, the assistance they receive, the banter they can have with their team members etc.


Where a candidate works is another big factor. I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone who has said “Yes, I would love to go back to an office full time” and tech companies especially are recognising this, with most adopting a hybrid working model or fully remote working. Honestly, the divide amongst what model candidates prefer is close to 50/50. Some people have said they have actually missed going into an office, that getting out of their house was a blessing for a few days a week, others really don’t seem to mind 100% remote working at all. 


I can’t see the tech market in NI slowing down any time soon, I think in 2022 we will still be seeing salaries increasing with counter offers becoming higher and higher, I especially think this will be true amongst candidates who use the latest technologies (.NET/.NET Core, Automation testing, React framework etc.). My hope is that companies will continue to adjust their expectations, take a chance on lesser experience candidates, and give them the opportunity to grow within a company. As for my advice to candidates: Every chance you don’t take is an opportunity missed. Apply for that job and take that chance, what have you got to lose?

Katie Ashenhurst

IT Recruitment Consultant

+44 28 9538 0601

[email protected]

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