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 Oisin McGrath from Defence Forces to give some advice for people considering this job:


Oisin McGrath

Lieutenant - Pilot - Air Corp

Defence Forces

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  Oisin McGrath

If you are seriously considering applying for the Air Corps you should check the pre-required Leaving Certificate subjects as outlined in the cadetship booklet. This is very important!!

Also, if applying you should get the details of the fitness test from the cadetship booklet and make sure you can do each of the disciplines well before the fitness test...a lot of people fail this part of the application process, and it can be passed easily!

If possible, you should organise a visit to Baldonnel through somebody that you know or maybe even your school...just to get familiar with the aircraft and to see the daily operation of the Air Corps.


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitter
In Summary header image

Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitter

The work of the Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitter involves plant and machinery installation, maintenance and repair, replacement of broken or worn parts, adjustment and servicing. 

The work also involves fabrication of replacement parts using machine tools i.e. lathes, milling machines, grinders etc. Components may have to be repaired or fabricated using welding, brazing, riveting and soldering techniques. 

Increasingly machines and processes involve integration of computer, electronic and programmable control systems with mechanical/ hydraulic, pneumatic systems e.g. PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), CNC (Computer Numerical Control), Robots and CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing). 

Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitters require many skills including:

  • Working with a variety of specialised tools - lathes, milling machines, grinders
  • Working with drilling and milling machines and welding plants
  • Knowledge of CNC.
  • Interpreting technical drawings and diagrams
  • Dismantling, Repair/Make and Fitting of new parts when performing plant maintenance
  • Installation of plant and production equipment
  • Condition monitoring using modern maintenance techniques
  • Report writing of completed repairs

Note: Experience has shown that higher grades of entry than those suggested by SOLAS are preferred for certain apprenticeships, due to the technical nature of the trade. 

Employers typically seek applicants who have completed Leaving Cert including Maths (with at least a grade O5 (grade C3 pre-2017) in Ordinary Level Maths) and preferably Physics.

Training header image

Phase 1: With Employer

Induction Training
Introduction to Health & Safety
Introduction to Tools & Equipment
Introduction to Basic Skills

Phase 2: Delivered in Training Centre (20 weeks)
Course Content:

Introduction and general workshop skills
Thermal Processes
Plant & Machine Maintenance
Fluid Power Systems
Introduction to CNC (Computer Numerical Control)
Introduction to Abrasive Wheels

Phase 3: With Employer

Work Based Training and Assessments

Phase 4: Delivered in Educational Colleges (11 weeks)
Course Content:

Bench Fitting
Thermal Processes
Plant, Machine Maintenance & Electrical
Automation & Control
CNC Programming

Phase 5: With Employer

Work Based Training and Assessments

Phase 6: Delivered in Educational Colleges (11 weeks)

Course Content:

Manufacturing Processes
Integrated Automation and Control
CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing)
IT (Information Technology)
Plant and Machine Diagnostics
Thermal Processes

Phase 7: With Employer

Work Based Training and Assessments

The overall duration of this apprenticeship is a minimum of 4 years provided all phases are successfully completed.

On successful completion of the programme the learner is awarded a Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft – Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitting.

Personal Qualities header image

As a Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitter you will need to be physically active and to be able to work with your hands. An awareness of health and safety and good housekeeping is essential as well as attention to detail.

The Mechanical Automation and Maintenance Fitter must have the ability to:

  • Plan and organise
  • Communicate effectively
  • Solve problems
  • Work independently and as part of a team
  • Show a positive attitude
  • Recognise the need for good customer relations
  • Demonstrate good work practices including time keeping, tidiness, responsibility, quality awareness and safety awareness

Note: A person wishing to become an apprentice MAMF must pass a colour–vision test approved by SOLAS.

Work Activities header image

  • Learning and developing new practical craft-related skills, knowledge and competence
  • Working with and learning from experienced craftspersons
  • Seeing a job through from start to finish
  • Comply with Health and Safety requirements
  • Using tools and operating machinery
  • Being responsible for controlling or adjusting equipment
  • Demonstrate good analytical and troubleshooting skills
  • Understanding technical drawings and diagrams
  • Being accurate with numbers in counting, measuring and arithmetic
  • Being well organised and careful with practical tasks
  • Keeping up to date with changing technologies
  • Being physically active
  • Taking responsibility for own learning, including the allocation of study time
  • Working in a noisy environment
  • Using tools or machinery to restore/repair/fabricate parts
  • Working with control systems
  • Passing all your phase exams (theory, practicals skills demonstration)
  • Earning as you learn

Pay & Fees header image

Funding Arrangements

All apprentices are paid a Training Allowance while attending off-the-job training in training centres or college, and an Apprentice Rate of pay during the on-the-job phases of their apprenticeship.

Details of the Training Allowances payable are available here.

What apprentice rate wages are paid?

Apprentice rates are paid for the on-the-job phases of apprenticeships. The actual rates paid may vary depending on the occupation and employer. Generally, the rates will increase in a number of steps during the apprenticeship. For example:


All other Trades




€ / hr

€ / hr

1st Year Rate

2nd Year Rate

3rd Year Rate

4th Year Rate









Note: You should always seek details of specific rates of pay for apprentices from prospective employers.

Apprentice Student Contribution

The Annual Student Contribution is levied on students attending Higher Education Institutions including Institutes of Technology. As part of the changes included in Budget 2014, apprentices now pay the same contribution as full time students, but their contribution is based on the time they spend in the Institute or College.

The Student Contribution is payable to the IoT /College on the date of registration for the training phase. You should consult the relevant IoT/College for details of payment options.

Note: Apprentices are required to pay an examination fee to the IoT or College for repeat exams. 

Female Apprentices' bursary for employers

To promote the entry of women into the designated apprenticeships, a bursary is available to employers to encourage an increased level of recruitment of female apprentices.

For more information Click here or contact your local ETB Training Centre.

Entry Requirements header image

The minimum age at which the employment of an apprentice may commence is 16 years of age. 
The minimum educational requirements are: 
1. Grade D in five subjects in the Department of Education & Skills Junior Certificate Examination or an approved equivalent,
2. The successful completion of an approved Pre-Apprenticeship course 
3. Three years’ work experience gained over sixteen years of age in a relevant designated industrial activity as SOLAS shall deem acceptable 

Note: These are the current approved minimum educational requirements for apprenticeship programmes, however, previous experience of the following subjects would be an advantage but not essential:

  • Mathematics
  • Metalwork
  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Technical Drawing/Graphics
  • Technology
Note: Experience has shown that higher grades of entry than those suggested by SOLAS are preferred for certain apprenticeships, due to the technical nature of the trade.

Employers typically seek applicants who have completed Leaving Cert including Maths (with at least a grade O5 (grade C3 pre-2017) in Ordinary Level Maths) and preferably Physics.

Getting an Apprenticeship header image

You must obtain employment as an apprentice in your chosen occupation.

  • The employer must be approved to train apprentices.
  • The employer must register you as an apprentice within two weeks of recruitment.
Note: MAMF Apprenticeship applicants are required to pass a colour vision test approved by SOLAS.

Career Opportunities header image

On successful completion of the apprenticeship programme, apprentices are qualified to work within the recognised trade or profession. 

Where apprentices and craftspersons have the necessary ability, initiative and basic qualifications, opportunities are available for advancement. These include advanced technology courses and management courses which are available in Institutes of Technology, Schools of Management and Professional Institutes.

Many craftspersons use their apprenticeship qualification as a platform to launch careers such as engineers, managers, owners of businesses, teachers and instructors amongst others.

Occupation Profile header image

Information to follow...

Progression Routes header image

Information to follow...

Occupation Data

Engineer - Automation

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