Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Dave McDonald from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Dave McDonald

Astronomer

Smart Futures

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  Dave McDonald

A caring attitude is essential for Health and Safety – you need to be passionate about getting the message across to people and telling them why it is so important. After all, no-one wants to see anyone suffer harm or be in pain.

For astronomy, a yearning for answering the unanswered questions is a must. You also need to be dedicated and focused and not put off by the weather

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Realist 
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Adult Learner

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Types of Awards


Quality Qualification in Ireland

QQI has a broad remit across education in Ireland and determines awards standards for Further Education and Training or FE courses. It has a key role in the qualifications system through its custodianship of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) Levels 1-10. QQI offers major awards and minor awards.

QQI Major Awards are made up of a number of specified (8 or more) minor awards commonly known as modules or component certificates. Each module can be taken separately or as part of an overall programme incorporating all the required modules for a major award. Learners receive a Component Certificate for each module they successfully complete. When a learner has successfully completed the required Component Certificates for a major award they automatically become eligible for the overall Certificate (= Major Award).

The following is an example of how the component certificates fit together:

QQI Level 5 Major award certificates will be awarded to a candidate who reaches the required standard in at least 8 modules made up as follows:

   5 Vocational modules (including mandatory and elective modules)
   2 General Studies modules (one of which must be communications)
   1 Work Experience module

The General Studies module is intended to:

  • Provide breadth and balance in the curriculum
  • Enhance personal development
  • Complement the area of vocational study

The General Studies module may be chosen from the list of Level 5 modules, (provided that it is not an elective vocational module for that certificate) or from the list of locally devised modules developed by the programme provider and approved by the Council.

You need to be careful and know what award you are getting from a programme. i.e. is it a component certificate or is it a major award?

You can generally judge by the number of contact hours. A minor award or component certificate can be completed in 30 or more contact hours. Whereas a major award will take you 240 or more contact hours to complete.

However, you can be sure if you enrol on a programme which has QQI accreditation that the Further Education and Training organisation delivering the programme has been through a rigorous quality assurance check. This ensures that the programme is monitored independently to ensure they achieve the highest standard. It is important to plan carefully what modules and what award you want to complete in order to maximise your investment and your time in getting your desired qualification.

Types of Awards from QQI

Certificates (Major Award)

Certificates are awarded for the achievement of major awards, where learners achieve the national standard in a prescribed range and number of component areas.

Component Certificates

Component Certificates are awarded for the achievement of individual blocks of learning, which can stand alone or build towards the achievement of a full certificate.

Special Purpose Certificates

Special Purpose Certificates are awarded for the achievement of a group of prescribed blocks of learning, generally for specific, relatively narrow purposes.

Supplemental Certificates

Supplemental Certificates are awarded for the achievement of individual areas of learning that are additional to a previously achieved major award.

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I hope to complete my diploma in legal studies next year and in the future would like to study Irish
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