• Professional occupations to see a starting salary increase of 2.5% next year
  • HR and legal roles are seeing the highest average salary increases at 3.5% and 3%, respectively

Dubai, 19 October 2016 – Starting salaries for professional roles in finance and accounting, financial services, technology and administration are predicted to grow by 2.5% over the next year, according to the Robert Half 2017 Salary Guide.

The Robert Half 2017 Salary Guide is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on starting salaries and recruitment trends in finance and accounting, financial services, IT, legal, and HR and administration. The Salary Guide enables employers and employees to benchmark salaries for over 185 different permanent professional roles in the UAE.

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director, Robert Half UAE commented: “The need to attract and retain specialist professionals is a key priority for firms – whether a start-up business, a local SME or multinational organisations -- as they prepare to seek out new commercial opportunities. Despite some ongoing uncertainty across the region, hard-to-fill and business critical roles continue to experience higher than average starting salary rises.”

Accountancy and finance

Starting salaries for accounting and finance roles within SMEs (<250 employees) are seeing increases on par with large companies as the competition grows for talented professionals.  Firms recognise that professionals are focused on finding the position that meets both their career goals and desired work-life balance as well as offers competitive remuneration. There are higher pay rises on offer for roles within tax, financial planning and analysis, and compliance, which is reflective of the need for companies to prepare for the implementation of corporation tax. Overall, roles within accounting and finance can expect an average salary increase of 2.3%.

Table 1: accountancy and finance highest by role

Top three roles

Company size

2016 average (USD)

2017 average (USD)

% change

Tax Director

Large company

$129,500 - $198,750

$137,250 - $212,500


Compliance Director


$109,250 - $138,750

$114,500 - $147,250


Financial Planning and Analysis Manager


$77,500 - $116,750

$81,750 - $122,500


Financial services

It has become increasingly difficult to attract expatriate financial services professionals to the region. This combined with increases to DFSA regulation has resulted in firms turning to local talent to fill positions within the sector. As productivity and commercial gains are being closely measured, the demand is high for associate to vice-president level professionals who can add value from day one. Average salary increases for financial services professionals are predicted to rise by 1.2%.

Table 2: financial services highest rises by role

Top three

2015 average (USD)

2016 average (USD)

% change

Assistant Vice President for Private Equity and Asset Management

$113,750 - $182,250

$114,500 - $212,500


Chief Financial Officer

$343,500 - $423,500

$367,000 - $459,740


Finance Director

$139,500 - $198,750

$147,250 - $212,500



The adoption of emerging technologies, ERP platforms and mobile solutions is driving a strong demand for talented technology professionals to the region on both a local and international basis. With IT enhancements required to ensure UAE firms remain competitive, project managers continue to be a position of high-demand. Overall, technology roles are set to receive a starting salary average increase of 2.4%.

Table 3: technology highest rises by role

Top three

2015 average (USD)

2016 average (USD)

% change

Information Technology Manager <10 years’ experience

$68,750 - $127,750

$81,750 - $130,750


Information Technology Manager >10 years’ experience

$102,500 - $172,250

$114,500 - $179,750


Systems Administrator

$35,750 - $71,750

$49,000 - $65,500


Human resources and administration

The need to attract and retain key professionals within the region has become a strategic priority for HR departments within organisations of all sizes. As such, HR management is having to align with their Western counterparts and companies are investing in human management programmes t to source efficiencies. Roles across HR and administrations are expected to see an average rise of 3.8%.

Table 4: human resources and administration highest rises by role

Top three

2015 average (USD)

2016 average (USD)

% change

Head of Compensation and Benefits

$112,500 - $192,750

$111,250 - $215,750


Compensation and Benefits Manager

$81,750 - $149,500

$124,250 - $150,500


Head of Learning and Development

$119,700 - $178,500

$130,750 - $184,750



Western-educated legal professionals with international experience combined with local compliance and regulation knowledge are highly valued, and as such are in high demand. Roles within the legal function, both in-house and within private practice are predicted to receive an average starting salary increase of 3%.

Table 5: legal highest rises by role

Top three

2015 average (USD)

2016 average (USD)

% change

Legal Partner in Private Practice

$208,500 - $295,500

$229,000 - $310,750


Paralegal in Private Practice

$53,500 - $90,250

$55,500 - $98,000


In-house Legal Assistant

$34,000 - $70,250

$45,750 - $65,500



El Mettouri added: "With specialist professionals in high demand and supply failing to keep pace, businesses are more willing to negotiate salary with their most sought-after potential hires. To remain competitive and not lose out on preferred candidates, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of salary trends and to move quickly when making an offer.

“As international markets improve, it is important to offer competitive remuneration, a strong career path and a positive working environment in a bid to attract and retain expat professionals in the region. Using industry publications, such as the Robert Half Salary Guide is one way of keeping a finger on the pulse on the latest hiring and salary trends.”

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

About the 2017 Salary Guide

Since 1950, Robert Half has produced Salary Guides to offer business owners, hiring managers and professional’s information on prevailing starting salaries in their geographic areas and insight into the latest employment trends. Companies consult the annual Salary Guide to determine appropriate remuneration for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, and HR and administration professionals at all levels.

Information in the Salary Guide is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements managed each year by Robert Half's recruitment consultants, along with the company's ongoing surveys of executives. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because many external factors – such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training – impact the salaries of permanent professionals as work histories develop. 

Download the Robert Half 2017 Salary Guide

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy; a member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2016). Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.ae.