Average salaries in Italy in 2021

Bas Teunissen

Updated on Apr 23 • 5 minute read

The average salary in Italy is probably one of the first things you’ll consider if you want to make Italy your new home. If you’re aware of the average pay, you’ll be able to determine whether an offer you’re getting is a good salary in Italy for your industry, position and experience. Luckily for you, we’ve already done the digging necessary to help you figure out how much you should be earning as an expat in Italy.

First, we’ll take a look at the national averages according to several sources to give us a general ballpark number for Italy and how it compares to the country’s cost of living. Next, we’ll investigate any notable differences by region you could consider when negotiating your new Italian wages. Does your industry pay well in Italy? Or is it time for a career switch? You’ll find out when we look into some of the best-paying jobs for expats in Italy and how it measures up to its neighbouring countries.

Average income in Italy on a national level

Let’s cut this salary pizza. At the same time, it’s still hot from the oven: according to Salary Explorer, the average gross salary for Italy is around €43.800 a year or €3650 a month. If this sounds pretty high, it’s because this number includes various benefits, such as housing stipends, travel expenses, vacation allowance, etc.

If we look at salary data provided by Statista, the average gross salary for Italy shows a more realistic number around €31.000 or €2583 a month. Either way, the national average for Italy scores around the middle for European wages. Combine that with the fact that the cost of living in Italy is generally lower than average and the likelihood that you, as an expat, are a highly skilled worker means that life in Italy could be pretty cosy on the financial end!

Don’t forget, though, that this is the national median income, meaning that 50% of the population actually make less than this. Other factors will also influence the wages you’ll encounter, such as pay differences per region, your industry and your experience. Additionally, it’s pretty likely that, as an expat, you’ll be looking for international- or English-speaking jobs. These jobs are more likely to be found in larger companies, which also tend to pay more than average. In conclusion, earning more than €43.000 with benefits included is considered a good salary in Italy, with many opportunities offering even more than that. So, your next question is probably: where wil I earn the most in Italy? Let’s take a look!

Regional difference in wages in Italy

If you’re looking for better salaries in Italy, there’s an easy rule to follow: go North!

The provinces with the highest average earnings include Lombardy in North Italy, Lazio in Central Italy and Piedmont in North-west Italy. There are no real surprises as to why these areas do very well. To start off, Lombardy is the home region for Milan, which boasts the highest average salary in Italy overall. Then there’s the province of Lazio in the centre of Italy, which is also where you’ll find, you guessed it: Rome! In the province of Piedmont, we find another economic powerhouse that boosts the average in the region: Turin.

The regional averages are one thing, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t earn a good buck if you live in a different region. Let’s take a look at some of the average salaries per city in Italy (Based on the numbers by SalaryExplorer):

National average€3650Baseline
Rome4300+17%
Milan4220+15.6%
Napoli4150+13.6%
Turin4080+11.7%

That said, the further south you go, the lower the average salary you’ll generally find. In fact, if you go all the way down to the Basilicata region (around the ankle of the famous Italian ‘boot’) the average salary is almost €7.000 lower than in Lombardy. So, if you’re going for the big bucks, follow the needle of your compass.

But why are southern salaries so much lower? For one, the southern regions and the Islands have a much higher share of low-income employees (17.8%) compared to the northern regions (6.7%)(Statista & Job Pricing). Some measure of explanation for the pay gap could be found in the higher levels of unemployment and the lower cost of living in the southern regions of Italy.

Minimum wage in Italy

But what if you’re a student or intern, who often can only find work at minimum wage? Unfortunately, it’s not a straightforward answer: Italy does not have a national minimum wage. Instead, the minimum wage is determined on a sector-by-sector basis, known as national collective bargaining agreements (NCBAs) or negotiated at a local or even at a company level.

These agreements are renegotiated every 3 years. To give you an idea, the minimum wage for agricultural workers is known to be one of the lowest in the country, and that’s set at around €900 or €5.6 an hour, which is pretty low if you compare it to other European countries. Germany, for example, has a nationwide minimum wage of €9.35 an hour, even for interns. So, if you’re planning on taking on a student job, make sure you leverage your skills and multilingualism to negotiate a decent salary if possible.

Top earning industries in Italy

It’s no secret that some industries offer better salaries than others, requiring a higher education or a specific set of skills to become employed there. So let’s take a look at some of the highest-earning and noteworthy(*) sectors in Italy:

National average (Statista)€31.000Baseline
Banking & Finance€43.277+39%
Pharmaceutical & Biotechnical€39.294+26%
Engineering€38.222+23%
Oil & Gas€38.093+22%
IT & Software consultancy€36.118+16%
Insurance€35.679+15%
Aeronautics€35.191+13%
Automotive*€28.647-7.4%
Fashion & Luxury*€28.540-8%

Italy is well known for its fast cars and high-end fashion industry, but unfortunately, the average salaries in these sectors are below the national average. In these sectors, you’ll have to be a hotshot designer or manufacturing wizard to make it to the big bucks.

If you’re looking to find which particular careers have the highest average salary in 2021, SalaryExplorer reports that you should look into picking one of the following professions:

ProfessionAverage monthly salary
Doctor€ 13.000
Judge€ 11.000
Bank manager€ 8700
CEO€8000
CFO€7600
Orthodontist€7300
Professor€6500

Gender gap in Italy

Unfortunately, even in this day and age there exists a discrepancy between the wages of men and women in the same field. Salary explorer reports that overall, women earn around 6% less than men across all industries, but some industries discriminate more than others. Job pricing indicates that the Finance and insurance industries favour men at an almost unreal rate. Men in finance and insurance sometimes make up to 25% more than their female counterparts.

Italy compared to the rest of Europe

So how does Italy hold up to its European neighbours? Looking at the numbers by Reinis Fischer, Italy hangs around the middle in terms of the average gross monthly wage. Let’s compare it to some other countries popular among expats.

Italy€2.534Baseline
Germany€4.035+41%
The Netherlands€2.855+12%
France€3.097+22%
Spain€2.279-11%

Ok, so, Germany leaves Italy in the dust. It’s the motor of the European economy after all. That said, Germany doesn’t have much on Italy’s climate, language and all that money certainly won’t make up for the wealth in culture and history you’ll find in Italy. Most of all, I wouldn’t trade all the bratwurst in the world to give up Italy’s marvellous cuisine! If you’re still not convinced, the lower salary is offset by an equally lower cost of living in Italy, as well!

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