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 Brian O'Connor from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:


Brian O'Connor

Analytical Chemist

Smart Futures

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  Brian O'Connor
Science is a fascinating subject and you truly have to immerse yourself in it. When you do the rewards are fantastic. It is of course a tough subject but once complete you learn how to solve many problems yourself.

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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Progression Routes

As an adult learner, you decide what education and training options best suit you. Whatever your situation, adult learning options are varied and designed to be enjoyable, relevant to what you are interested in and flexible to fit in with work and family life.

You can start of with short taster courses to try out different areas for example: computer courses, childcare courses, communications and so on. You can then build on these, progress and and gain more accrediation in these particular areas.

Understanding how students progress in Ireland through the PLC route can be a little tricky. It's worth noting that 20% of all applications to HEIs (Higher Education Institutes) come from the FET sector (Further Educaiton and Training) Approximately half of these applicants get a CAO offer. 

The important point is that FET courses carry accreditation through the Quality Qualifications Ireland (QQI) framework.

These progression opportunities are a real stepping stone for adult learners - in summary:

Any student with a full QQI Award at Level 5 (or 6) can use this certificate qualification to compete for a place in a Third Level College, if the college is one of the 38 HEIs that allow progression to a degree and beyond.

Progressing from one course to another: From FET (Levels 3-6) to HEI (Levels 6-10)

Below is a practical example of how a learner may progress from one level to the next. (The example relates to the Clondalkin/Tallaght area, but it applies to all learners).

Source: "RoadMap to Training and Education in the Clondalkin area"

The model above is a 'roadmap'. It shows the journey for a Learner who wants to pursue a qualification in Computer Science. The Learner starts with a basic level computer course in the local area, and progresses, in a series of stages, to a third level course in a university, and right up to a Doctorate:

  1. Level 3 course - General Learning with IT
  2. Level 4 course - Computer Information Technology
  3. Level 5 course - Computer Programming and Multimedia
  4. Level 6 course - Higher Certificate in Science in Information Technology
  5. Level 7- 8 course - Bachelor of Science in Computing
  6. Level 9 - Masters in Computer Science
  7. Level 10 - PHD in Computer Science
To begin your Learner journey, start by searching our PLC course databaseclick here  

Note: If the course that interests you offers progression pathways this green link will appear beside the course title.


  Hint: Bord Iascaigh Mhara
In this field it is critical to have the most up to date information available to me whether it is fish nutrition, safety, or any other area; hence I am always willing to participate in any training that may become available to me. To date I have completed over forty courses between Marine Harvest and BIM.
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