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 Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:


Brian Macken

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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  Brian Macken

I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.

I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.

But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould).  However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.


Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
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Insurance Practitioner
In Summary header image

Insurance Practitioner

The Insurance Institute, in collaboration with Zurich Insurance and a steering group of cross-industry representatives have developed the BA (Hons) in Insurance Practice – a Level 8 ‘earn and learn’ degree.

This apprenticeship programme will be delivered by The Insurance Institute and IT Sligo. It combines practical on-the-job learning, as a route into the insurance profession, or as a way for current staff within insurance organisations to develop and progress.

Professional apprentices will develop technical knowledge through formal qualifications, as well as key workplace skills and competencies through experiential learning.

Off-the-job training will be delivered primarily through distance-learning on IT Sligo’s online platform, as well as through The Insurance Institute’s professional qualification framework.

The apprentice will develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours necessary for a successful career in the insurance sector.
The Insurance Practitioner will be an NFQ Level 8 apprenticeship with 100 places potentially available annually.

Training header image

The structure of the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is as follows:

Duration: 3 years

Qualification: BA (Hons) Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship – Level 8 NFQ

Training provider: IT Sligo/The Insurance Institute

Commencement date: September 2016

Outline: Apprentices undertake insurance qualifications, delivered by The Insurance Institute, as well as business and accounting modules from IT Sligo.

Off/On the Job Phases: The structure of the off-the-job programme involves six 15-week semesters, each consisting of three modules. This is combined with on-the-job learning delivered through full-time employment with an insurance company.

Off-the-job learning delivery will be a blend of online lectures, online discussion/engagement and face to face teaching with provision for group sessions per semester. Typically this will result in one day a week study release for the apprentice, in the employer’s premises, away from the desk.

As semesters are 15 weeks apiece, the apprentice will have fewer study hours during the summer period and will have more to time to learn practically on-the-job.

Provider: Zurich / The Insurance Institute

Personal Qualities header image

  • Personable and sociable
  • Professional style
  • Competitive
  • Socially confident
  • Self-motivated with desire to perform at a high level
  • Customer service oriented
  • High standards of ethics and integrity
  • Ambitious and results orientated
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work in a fast paced environment.

Work Activities header image

  • Apprentices will be fully compliant with the Central Bank’s Minimum Competency Code (MCC) after one year.
  • By the end of the three years, the apprentice will have earned the Professional Diploma in Insurance (CIP), as well as their level 8 BA Honours degree.
  • Programme content meets not only current skills needs, but addresses many of the new skills required for emerging needs of the workplace.
  • Off-the-job training, completed primarily online, is fully funded through the government-led Apprenticeship Council. 
  • The apprenticeship programme will ensure industry standards and talent and help to create future managers, appropriately skilled for the insurance business.

Pay & Fees header image

Being accepted on this proposed Apprenticeship will require a job seeker to first secure an “Apprenticeship Contract” with an approved organisation / employer.

As details of approved organisations become available, they will be included here.

Each approved organisation will determine the particular salary structure for the apprenticeship, which will be communicated at contract negotiation stage with the proposed candidate. 

There will be no difference in rate-of-pay between the time an apprentice spends on-the-job and time in training.

Entry Requirements header image

Each apprentice will be employed directly by an insurance company, and will therefore be required to meet the particular employer’s specific recruitment criteria.

Certain additional requirements must also be met for admission to the proposed apprenticeship programme:

  • A minimum of 2 honours in the Leaving Certificate or equivalent, with a pass in four additional subjects including Mathematics and English/Irish.
  • For students over 23 on 1 January of the year of entry, interviews or other selection tools may be used to assess, replacing the minimum requirements above.
Professional Insurance apprentices will come from a variety of backgrounds:
  • School leavers: Those who want a degree without going down the university route. These candidates want to get on the career ladder straight away, while not missing out on the academic advantages of a college degree.
  • Graduates who wish to further their education in the insurance sector while gaining valuable workplace experience through a structured programme.
  • Career changers who wish to start a career in insurance.
  • Existing emloyees in an insurance organisation wishing to advance in their career
The proposed Insurance Practitioner programme is an excellent way to earn a degree and become compliant with minimum competency regulations.

Full entry requirements can be found here.

Getting an Apprenticeship header image

Apprentices will be employed directly by an insurance company. Application for new entrants will be to the particular company. Employer’s specific recruitment criteria must be met, as well as certain additional requirements for admission to the apprenticeship programme as outlined in 'Entry requirements' below.

Employers will be required to ensure that their organisation meets the criteria to take on an apprentice and be registered as an approved employer of apprentices. Once approved, employers will be able to recruit apprentices through their regular recruitment process, provided the apprentice meets the stated entry requirements. 

Insurance companies Now Recruiting:
Zurich Insurance Group



Marsh Ireland


Campion Insurance


Once an apprentice is successfully recruited, off-the-job training registration will be completed through IT Sligo.

Be first to hear about the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship - Register here with the Insurance Institute for updates.

Career Opportunities header image

School leavers who embark on the professional apprenticeship scheme will get their foot on the career ladder earlier than most graduates, while still earning a level 8 qualification and a salary.

Insurance Practitioner Apprentices become part of a pool of talent from which organisations can recruit when looking for people who want to create a strong career in the insurance industry and who have the qualifications and employability skills to do so.

Occupation Profile header image

Information to follow...

Progression Routes header image

Information to follow...

Occupation Data

Insurance Broker

Industry Expert(s)