Start-up companies pay twice the Estonian average wage


According to Statistics Estonia, 10,956 people, or 2% of all Estonian employees, worked in Estonian start-ups for at least one day last year. The average gross salary of a start-up company employee was € 2,591, which is 1.9 times the Estonian average over the same period.

According to Statistics Estonia, people who worked in Estonia for at least one day earned an average of EUR 1,380 a month gross last year. At the same time, the average salary of Estonians working in Estonian start-ups was EUR 2,462, while the average monthly income of talent hired from abroad was EUR 2,718. By age group, the highest average gross monthly wages in start-ups are earned by workers aged 41–50, with an average wage of EUR 3,389.

Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia, pointed out that the Estonian start-up sector creates primarily high value-added jobs, and the demands on employees’ competence and education are higher than average. ‘The Estonian start-up sector is a major employer – one in 64 Estonian employees worked in a start-up for at least one day. Labour shortages are sharply felt in Estonia, and finding suitably qualified staff is becoming a serious challenge for start-ups. Unfortunately, the figures show that the local labour market is not able to meet the rapidly growing needs at the same pace, and the role of foreign talent in the growth and development of our local start-ups is increasing every year,’ she said.

65% of all employees in start-ups are Estonian, down from 68% a year earlier. Last year, 28% of local start-ups employed foreigners, 5% of whom were European Union nationals and 23% came from outside the EU. Among the European Union Member States, Italy, Latvia, France, Spain, and Germany were the most popular for recruiting. Outside the European Union, Estonian start-ups have hired most from Russia, Nigeria, Ukraine, India, and Brazil.

The majority, or 61% of employees at start-ups have a university degree; either a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. And the level of education of foreign workers is even higher – 77% of them hold a university degree.

Top-level specialists form the largest group of employees in Estonian start-ups, accounting for 46% of all employees, with the highest number among them being top-level ICT specialists (57% of all top-level specialists), of whom the largest share (54%) are software and application developers and analysts. The average gross salary of people working in top-level jobs was EUR 3,137 last year.

12% of start-up employees work as managers, and the average gross salary for a manager was EUR 3,721. Office workers and customer service workers account for 17% of the workforce, and their average gross salary was EUR 1,512. Technicians and mid-level professionals accounted for 11% of the total workforce in the start-up sector, and earned a gross salary of EUR 1,997 per month.

The highest average gross wage in the Estonian start-up sector was in transport and logistics, where workers earned an average of EUR 3,283 per month last year. This was followed by communications, where employees were paid EUR 2,941 per month, and cyber-technology, where the average salary was EUR 2,891.

Among the employees in Estonian start-ups, 63% are men and 37% are women. The average start-up employee is also quite young – 45% of start-up employees are aged between 21 and 30, and a further 41% are aged between 31 and 40.  

Startup Estonia connects and supports Estonian start-ups. Startup Estonia collects data in cooperation with start-ups and the published statistics are based on data from start-ups, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, and Statistics Estonia. The Startup Estonia programme (project number EU50651) is financed using funds from the European Regional Development Fund.