Have you considered moving to Ireland either to study or work?
Ireland is a small country with an enormous amount to offer especially for Finance professionals.
In today’s article, The CA Story is talking to Mohit Sharma a qualified Chartered Accountant who moved to Ireland from his home country (India) to study further and then work in Ireland.
He is a qualified CPA Ireland and has done his Masters in Finance from the National College of Ireland.
Presently, Mohit is living in County Cork (Ireland) and working in an MNC in financial services.
My Journey Moving to Ireland
Destiny and my never give up attitude led me to Ireland from where I did my Masters in Finance and started my journey in a new country.
I did my Masters from Dublin, stayed there for a year, then got a job in County Tipperary worked there for 10 months and now I am based in Cork, working in an MNC in financial services.
In this article, I am sharing my journey from India to Ireland, my struggles, all about studying in Ireland, cost of studying here, pursing CPA Ireland, finding a job opportunity as an expat, etc.
Here is my story:
Growing up I wasn’t super smart but I was a good student. As a matter of fact, my teacher used to call my “Smart boy” :-).
After my career counselling in class 12, I recognized CA as one of the most prestigious and challenging qualifications in the commerce field.
Since I love taking challenges (but had no idea how difficult CA was), I just jumped straight in without putting much thought.
Becoming a Chartered Accountant
My CA journey had its own ups and downs.
Since I just finished school and started my CA journey (in India you can pursue CA after class 12), I was a cool and easy-going student who did not worry much.
To be a Chartered Accountant from ICAI, India, you need to clear 3 levels of exams:
- CPT: First level. You have to give this exam if you register for the CA course before graduating. I registered for CPT after class 12.
- IPCC: Second level exam. This consists of two groups – Group 1 & 2. After clearing this exam you can start your articles.
- CA Final: Last level of CA exams and it has again two groups – Group 1 & 2.
- 3 years of articleship training: This starts after you clear IPCC, either both groups or anyone of them.
I gave my CA CPT Entrance exam and passed easily. I also cleared my CA IPCC exams easily.
It was now time to start my articles at a CA Firm.
Honestly, when I started my CA journey I did not know what is a ‘Big 4 Accounting firm’. So when it was time to start my articleship, I in Delhi (India).
I struggled at the start of my articles because I had to be on time and had to follow a routine every day like coming to the office at 9 am sharp. It was very scary but eventually, I adapted and it disciplined me greatly.
Do I regret not joining a Big Accounting Firm for my articles? Not really.
Later when I got to know about the Big 4s I DID NOT feel bad or felt like I lost an opportunity interning with them. Instead, I spoke to a lot of seniors and realised that working in smaller firms can give you an all-rounded exposure.
In Big Accounting firms, you get groomed really well and become really good with the processes, client interaction, etc but the overall learning in terms of getting exposure to different kinds of work can be restricted (in my opinion).
So having a Big 4 on your CV is definitely going to give you a head start after qualifying as a CA but how you grow later on in your career depends on YOU.
My personal advice to CA students would be:
- To do your articles in a mid-size firm for the first year (understand what is your area of interest by taking up various opportunities in your firm)
- And for the rest two years join a Big 4 Accounting firm
- Or in the last year go for Industrial Training to get an edge and overall growth.
Coming back to my journey, after 3 years of articles, it was time for CA Final Exams.
In my CA Final Exams, I cleared all papers but failed to get the overall aggregate marks to clear the exams. That means that I had failed the attempt and had to reappear for the exams.
It was painful to study all over again but after a while, I started analyzing what could have caused this. I realized what mistakes I made and worked on them.
So I learned a lesson in life, it’s absolutely okay to fall as long as you stand again and understand what mistake you made and correct yourself.
You don’t have to be super smart or even smart to do CA. I think CA exams and articles is more of a test of your perseverance and consistency rather than you being smart or super smart.
You need to be persistent and consistent about your studies or CA will teach you the hard way.
Finally, with a lot of persistence and commitment, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2015 (my second attempt).
Deciding to Study Masters Ireland
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I started working in Delhi (India) and soon realized this is not where I want to be. I wanted something more.
I decided to pursue an MBA. So I quit my job and decided to study further.
My plan was to pursue an MBA from one of the best B-Schools in India such as IIMs. I studied for 3 months and scored 96 percentile (a good score, did not expect it at all).
Even after scoring well and giving interviews at IIMs, things were not materializing. I was only getting into colleges that were not in the top 15 B-schools.
A few seniors suggested IMT Ghaziabad and I finally decided to join them but as you say God had other plans for me.
My admission was successful at IMT Ghaziabad but due to some internal error, my admission was cancelled.
I felt really bad but I thought maybe something better is coming my way and right enough it did.
In the meanwhile, I decided to take up a job.
One day after a job interview, I passed a visa office and just went in (this was around July’17). I spoke to a counsellor at that visa office and he showed me various study options outside of India. Now I never wanted to move out of India but this one meeting got me thinking.
I did my research about Ireland and Ireland’s visa policy for students, who wanted to continue staying in Ireland after completing their studies.
Through my research, I realized that after Brexit, Ireland is expected to be Europe’s next financial hub.
And that’s when I decided to move to Ireland for better opportunities and experiences.
Finding the right course to study in Ireland
Now the next step was finding the right course and college to study in Ireland.
As mentioned above, at the start, my plan was to do an MBA in India but due to some circumstances that did not work out.
Now when I discovered study opportunities in Ireland, I decided to do a Masters in Finance and not an MBA because generally in an MBA, the specialization subjects come in the second year of the course.
And my main goal was to do a specialization in finance, so I thought it would be better to go for a Masters instead of an MBA as it saves costs and time (Masters is only a one year course).
Applying to Colleges in Ireland for my Masters
- I wanted to go to the best college but their application was open only for next year since I was applying really late.
- As I was already late (July), I just applied to whichever colleges in Ireland were taking applications for Masters in Finance.
- I applied to three colleges and got an offer from all three with scholarships.
Informing my Parents
After applying to the colleges and getting shortlisted, I informed my parents about it.
At first, they did not want me to study abroad. I requested them to come to the visa office and listen to what the counsellor had to say.
They were convinced and after that, I started with the whole visa process.
Funding my Studies in Ireland
The tuition fees to do a Masters in Ireland was around £13,260 (pounds) or USD 16,100 dollars which would cover your tuition fees and the living expenses for a year.
I received a scholarship of € 4000 (euros) so now the total fees were € 14,500.
Since I did not work for a long time in my home country (India) after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I did not have much savings.
I did not want to borrow money from my parents (I like the thought of being independent) so I applied for a study loan. Luckily the loan was in 10 days.
College Admission Procedure for Ireland
Before the visa process, you will get a provisional offer letter from the colleges stating that you need to clear the English proficiency exam (IELTS/PTE) with a band of 6.5 or more.
As I was already late in applying for the colleges, I went for PTE as it takes a few days to process and get the results.
IELTS usually takes about 20 days for the results whereas PTE results will come out in 2-3 days. I self-studied for a week through YouTube videos and to my surprise I score an 8.5 band in PTE.
The visa process usually takes around 40 days to process.
The whole process of applying is very tedious as it requires loads of paperwork.
I took help from a visa consultancy company as they don’t charge the student but get a cut from the college. They will guide you through the whole process and will help in every small problem.
In short, apply through the visa company, clear the English test, get the loan sorted, pay the college and finally apply for the visa.
Be sure to go to the right visa company, as a lot of visas get declined. You need proper and accurate paperwork to get the visa approved. The whole process will take around 2 months.
In the next 50 days, I was in Ireland.
Finally Moving to Ireland and Adjusting to my New Life
In the start, you will enjoy the freedom but after a while, you will miss your home and especially the food.
The first struggle you will face is definitely doing everything by yourself and being on your own.
The Irish accent can be very difficult to understand but over time you get used to it.
Apart from this, you won’t face many challenges provided you choose the right friends and have the right attitude.
You have to be flexible and understanding of different cultures.
Studying and Working in Ireland
As a student, you are allowed to work in Ireland on a part-time basis for 20 hours a week. If you work all the weeks, you can easily take care of your living expenses.
I found work the next month I came to Ireland and made sure I was working and studying. This helped me gaining local work experiences as well as earning some money.
Working while studying let me earn money for my daily living expenses. So actually, I did not use the loan money for the living expenses. I used the loan money only for tuition fees and return the excess money.
I have paid off almost half of my loan since I was working right from the start (and I still enjoyed, travelled and ate well).
Even you can do this if you are confident in doing a part-time job and studying simultaneously.
The study approach in Ireland is very different from India. You have to research a lot and plagiarism is a crime here.
It’s difficult at the start (what isn’t) but after a while, you adapt to the new study techniques.
Cost of Living in Ireland
The living expenses will come around to EUR 700-1000 for a month which will cover your rent, eatables, transport and roaming around.
I save like one-third of it after spending on everything including my rent, car, eating outside, groceries and shopping.
Finding an Apartment in Ireland
- Accommodation can be a problem in Ireland as it is hard to find accommodation at a reasonable price.
- You can get accommodation through websites like daft.ie or rent.ie or join various accommodation groups on Facebook. I found the place through Daft.ie as well. It takes time but you will get it eventually.
- The rent is a little high in the main cities like Dublin EUR 500-700 per month and Cork EUR 400-700 per month.
- Eating outside for one time will cost you around EUR 10-20.
- The first year insurance you need to get from your own country (a requirement before applying for a visa from home country).
- After it expires, you can extend the same from your home country as long as it covers Ireland.
- In Ireland, it will cost you around EUR 150 for a year.
Mobile and Internet Expenses
- You will need to get a new number when you come to Ireland. There are various companies such as Tesco, Lyca, Three, Vodafone, Eir.
- The best and cheapest will be Tesco, its coverage is good and will cost you EUR 15 euros for 28 days with unlimited calls in the country, 15GB 4G internet, and 5 euro balance.
- For the internet at your accommodation, it is generally installed in the apartment or house.
- The total cost for that comes around EUR 60 euros which will be shared amongst all the tenants equally (since you will be sharing the apartment with other people).
- There is free Wi-Fi in almost all public places such as buses, hospitals, colleges, malls.
- The gas and electricity will cost around 50-80 euros for a month individually.
- There is no bill for water (at least something is free :p).
- The weather is very unpredictable in the whole of Ireland.
- You will see the sun, rain, clouds, fog, windfall, all in one day. It is mostly cold and rainy throughout the year.
- It gets hot in the summers but would only go up to 25 degrees in the sun and the day will be 18 hours long, bright sun till almost 11 pm.
- While in winter the sun is out for only 6-7 hours and its night for 18 hours almost, by 4 pm it is really dark.
Transportation in Dublin is good to commute through the city. I bought a car two months back, so now I travel by car.
The main city is the capital i.e., Dublin. You will get everything in Dublin. After Dublin, there is Cork.
These are the two main cities in Ireland and both of them have International Airports.
- For travelling as a student, you will have to get a Leap card (will get it from college) which offers a 30% discount on travelling in public transport. Also, there is a daily cap on the card on various transport medium like 5 euros a day on buses in Dublin.
- The public transport is other counties other than Dublin is limited. In Cork, the public transport system is okay. You don’t have so many intercity buses as Dublin but it covers almost whole of Cork.
Visas in Ireland
The visa situation is quite long here. I started with a student visa also known as Stamp 2 for one year.
So I was on a student visa (Stamp 2 – it’s a student visa which allows you to work only for 20 hours a week) in the start for almost a year.
After completion of my Masters, I was given a two-year visa to find work in the field related to my Master’s.
So from Stamp 2, I moved on to Stamp 1G which allowed you to work full time in Ireland.
If you don’t find a job in your respective field or you do not have the minimum income in the respective field, the visa will not be extended after two years and you might have to go back to your home country. But usually, you will get the job paying more than the minimum income required by the visa department.
You can also apply for a work permit which will help you to get the citizenship sooner after your student visa.
For citizenship, you need to be in Ireland working after your studies for at least 5 years.
Critical Skills List:
- If your work is in Critical Skills (list of occupation given in the Department of Business and Innovation in Ireland), you will get the visa for two years known as Stamp 1.
- After two years you can get stamp 4 which is almost equivalent to citizenship here. It allows you to buy a property or do business in the country.
- If you are not on the critical skills list, you can work on stamp 1G for two years (it is extended only for two years), after that you can apply for a general work permit.
- After working on General Work permit for 5 years, you can get Stamp 4.
To start a business of your own you need to be on stamp 4. Starting a business will be profitable here as even small business earn a lot after being established.
How to Find a Job in Ireland as an Expat
Most of the jobs are in Dublin and Cork but for the starting, you can relocate anywhere and once you gain the experience in Ireland you can switch jobs.
Finding work in Ireland from abroad:
1. Intra-company transfers
- Ireland is now home to many multinational companies so if your company has an office in Ireland try applying for that role.
- Intra-company transfers are one way to obtain an Irish job from abroad.
2. Applying for a job from your home country
- If Intra-company transfer is not an option then you can apply for a job from your home country to a company in Ireland. If you get selected and you get the work visa, you can more here.
- Only if you get the job offer from a company in Ireland, you have to apply for the work visa (again from your home country) and once you get it, then only you can start working here.
- It will be a little difficult to get a job when applying from your home country however if you have good experience in MNCs you can try your luck. With patience, you should get an offer.
- However mostly, they will consider someone who is in Ireland and has studied and worked in Ireland or in Europe over you.
- So be sure you have a great skill set and good communication skills.
3. Study in Ireland
- Come to Ireland on a study visa and later find a job opportunity (like me!).
- My opinion would be to do a Master’s here and then find a job as it will help you to understand how Irish markets and environment work as well plus making your job search easier.
Will they consider your experience in your home country?
- The companies hiring you will consider you as a fresher or someone with little experience unless you have European experience.
- Or you are highly skilled and they cannot find someone like you in Ireland
- They might consider your previous experience if you have worked in an MNC or a company which is in Ireland but again, they will take you as a fresher.
- If you are lucky enough to be a citizen of an EU country, congratulations! The hardest part is over, so go on and start your job search.
- Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand governments have set up reciprocal agreements with Ireland enabling you to live and work here for a set period of time on a temporary visa.
- Argentina, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have similar programs. So do your research when applying for a job and the visa rules.
How I Found a Full-Time Job Opportunity in Ireland
As mentioned above, once I moved to Ireland on a study visa, I found a job as an international student within one month. As a student, you can work for 20 hours a week.
Finding a full times job in Ireland after completing my Masters was not that easy but not that difficult as well. You have to believe that you will find the right job at the right time.
I started applying for a full-time job around July’18 after completing my Masters and landed a job in September’18.
It takes time as the employers here are looking for a person with good skills, Stamp 4 visa (I was on Stamp 1G) or someone who has work experience in Europe.
Since I only had good skills (no full-time EU experience or a stamp 4 visa), it took me approximately two months to find a full-time job.
I applied through:
Job agencies such as Morgan Mckinley, Brightwater, Marks Sattin help accounting professionals find jobs.
There is also job portal provided by the college.
You just need to keep applying online mainly through LinkedIn, Indeed.com, Job Agency and Job portals in college and attend any interviews you get (even if it is not related, just attend for the experience).
If you get a CPA Ireland, it will increase your chances to get a job here.
In the financial sector, you can apply any field in financial services. To name a few:
- Accounting Technician.
- Trainee Accountant
- Graduate programmes
- Financial Reporting
- Regulation Reporting
- Fund Accountant
- Mergers and Acquisition
- Taxation and a lot more.
Interviews in Ireland
In order to get the interview call, you need to update your CV as per the Irish markets.
They will ask you a few questions or take a short interview about general things such as visa, your availability, where do you live. If everything is fine with them, they will call you for an interview.
The interview process is simple and straight forward. Usually, the interview process is:
- Go for the interview, there will be 1-2 persons in the interview panel.
- One is from HR and other from the department you will be hired for.
- They will ask you questions and note down how you answered.
- The interview will go on for 20-40 minutes and at the end, they will tell you the date they will make the decision.
- The main thing I observed is that they put great emphasis on your communications skills and confidence.
Salary in Ireland
The pay is comparatively is good here.
However, if you were in Europe and you did your internship for three years in Europe and completed your CA in Ireland, your starting salary will be higher than those who did their internship from India or in their respective home country.
So it can be a little low for Non-EUs at the start of your career but as you gain experience in the country, it’s very good.
However, this is a rough average salary for freshers:
- A qualified Accountant will get a pay of around EUR 30,000 per annum in the start
- Whereas a non-qualified CA will get around EUR 25,000 per annum
- If you have completed your ACCA, CA, CPA, CIMA, you will get EUR 30,000 easily, maybe more.
Finance certifications recognized in Ireland
There are a lot of jobs in the financial sector here but the demand for Analysts, Accountants, Financial Accountants are very high. So if you have done your CA or ACCA, you will find a job for sure.
There are many finance certifications or courses such as:
- Certificate in Investment Funds
- Diploma in Investment Funds
- CFA Institute Investment Foundations Certificate
All of these are beneficial for you in the long run. I would suggest doing a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). After doing CFA, you will easily get a good paying job anywhere in the world.
CPA Ireland has a mutual agreement with ICAI India (check if your certification has an agreement with CPA Ireland).
If you are a member of ICAI in India, you will get exemptions for most of the course. You just need to go through 3 exams:
- Overview of Irish Laws
- Overview of Irish Taxation
- Strategy Course
You need to score a minimum of 80% in each of the exams in order to proceed with the CPA Ireland degree.
I personally did not find it difficult. It took me around 2 months to go through the curriculum and attempt the exams.
I studied like for 1-2 weeks for each exam. It is MCQ based questions and pretty straight forward. If you are already a CA from your home country it wil be easy to pass the CPA Ireland exams.
If you get a CPA Ireland, it increases your chances to get a job here.
The journey has been great. I have learned so much in these two years which I think I wouldn’t have learned in 10 years in India. I will definitely recommend everyone to live on their own for a few years.
I would really recommend someone who wants to get good pay and live in a zero racism, zero pollution country, come to Ireland.
You will learn so much and grow so much in your life. You learn everything from making food to cleaning your room.
Everything needs to be done by you. The only thing sometimes I miss is my family. Apart from that everything is really good to lead a peaceful life. I am currently working in an MNC for a while now and intend to do CFA next year.
Key Takeaways From my Journey Moving Abroad
- I would say firstly, be clear about your goal.
- Be clear about what you want in life and how much are you willing to do for it. I always want to do more in my life (I don’t know why but I think it’s natural), that’s why I take risks.
- If you are really interested in growing in life, do weigh your options. I have seen some students who can’t live without their family, they return back after completing their course.
- Ask yourself – where do you see yourself in 10 years? Will you be happy with the work or the salary you are getting currently? If the answer is ‘No’, do something about it.
- Studying abroad is a great option. You will learn a lot but it is worth it? You need to answer that and back it up.
- And always remember, either take risks and reap benefits or stay the same. I would say ‘DO IT, NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS’
BONUS: Actionable Advice from Chartered Accountants Who Moved Abroad
1. Rishabh, Chartered Accountant expat living in Amsterdam
Once my rotation at EY Sweden ended and I was back in India, I actively started searching for opportunities abroad especially Europe.
It was not easy but soon I got a call from KPMG Netherlands and I was fortunate to clear all the interviews.
Since the profile I had applied for was related to data analytics and I had prior experience in a similar profile, my experience came in handy.
2. Govind, Chartered Accountant / SAP Consultant living in Den Haag
Currently, I am living in Den Haag and working in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
It is a dream come true for a boy like me living in a small town to traveling the world and now working and living in the Netherlands.
Over Past years, I have gained a lot of new accounting and finance knowledge like Accounting practices of very large organizations, GAAP ( IFRS, Europen and US GAAPs).
I played various roles in the IT industry as a business analyst, Subject matter expert, FIN Consultant and Finance Transformation Consultant.
As a part of my work, I have traveled across different countries in 9 years including, the UK, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Vietnam. Meet Govind a CA from a Small City in India to a SAP Consultant in the Netherlands
3. Janet Su, CPA Canada expat living in Switzerland
I had immense pressure from my parents who wanted me to open my own accounting firm one day. It was totally something I DID NOT want to do.
I first visited Switzerland in 2014 and I fell in love with the country.
In fact, before considering my Masters Degree in Switzerland I had applied for jobs here but it was tough because Swiss companies do not like to sponsor non-Swiss or non-EU nationals.
Two years went by so fast and I finished my Masters degree and I realized I wanted to stay in Switzerland longer, that’s when I decided to do a Ph.D. instead.
The pay from the Ph.D. covers all my costs of living. It is quite generous. The pay is more than most professors make in other countries.
In fact, if we consider the currency exchange, then I am earning more in Canadian dollars than I was earning back home as a CPA. I also pay less taxes here.
You can read – How I quit my job as a CPA Canada and Moved to Switzerland
Now It’s Your Turn…
Have you considered working in Ireland or studying in Ireland?
Would love to know your journey and experiences.
Comment below and let me know.
You can also reach me on LinkedIn at Mohit Sharma.