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 Mary Ita Heffernan from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:


Mary Ita Heffernan

Social Worker

Health Service Executive

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  Mary Ita Heffernan

Whilst in secondary school, I changed my mind many a time regarding the career path I wanted to pursue! I always knew that I wanted to work with people but was unsure about the profession which would most suit my interests and skills in this regard.

While in school, I definitely found that being unsure about the type or area of work you want to pursue is a very difficult and confusing position to be in, especially given the array of career choices now available and the pressure one feels in trying to make one’s mind up.

To this end, I would strongly advise anybody in this position to research courses and job descriptions well in order to make the most informed decision possible at that time in your life. 

I recommend one tries to gain as much work experience as possible as it will provide you with valuable insight into your skills, ability, likes/dislikes for certain areas of employment!!!!

Also I would research the courses and job areas as much as possible so that you can make an informed decision regarding your choices. If you can't gain enough information in school, contact the college directly or arrange to talk to somebody who facilitates the course. In particular, it would be really valuable to talk to somebody in the profession to gain a realistic and practical insight into the job.


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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IFS Specialist
In Summary header image

IFS Specialist

This is one of the 25 new/ proposed apprenticeship programmes for 2016/17. 

The Apprenticeship Council has approved Financial Services Ireland and National College of Ireland (NCI) to commence delivery of three levels of apprenticeship unique to International Financial Services.

IFS Specialist Apprenticeship

The IFS Specialist apprenticeship is aimed at those who have work experience and relevant educational qualifications. Entrants will study a Higher Diploma in Data Analytics or Fintech whilst earning a salary of €35K, with a two year fixed term contract in an IFS organisation in a relevant role.

Video: International Financial Services Apprenticeships at NCI

Training header image


The IFS apprenticeships are 2-years in duration. The apprentices spend 60% of their time working in IFS companies and the remainder gaining specific IFS qualifications

IFS Specialist Apprentices will work four days per week in their company and study for the remaining one day per week in NCI over the two year period.


IFS Specialist Apprentices will graduate with a Higher Diploma in Data Analytics or Fintech at Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

Personal Qualities header image

The IFS Specialist apprentice role is for:

  • Career changers
  • Those with prior career experience and transferrable skills
  • Third level qualification already attained
  • Motivated by upskilling and by prospect of an IFS career
Given the target technical market for graduates of this programme, candidates will be required to demonstrate:
  • Technical problem solving skills or
  • Mathematical problem solving skills.

Work Activities header image

IFS Specialist Apprentices will work four days per week in their company and study for the remaining one day per week in NCI over a two year period.

An IFS Specialist Apprentice will get you:

  • A two year fixed term contract in an International Financial Services (IFS) Organisation
  • A paid apprenticeship while you work and study
  • A recognised qualification in the National College of Ireland's state of the art campus in the IFSC
  • A Higher Diploma in Data Analytics or Fintech
  • A two year fixed term contract in an IFS organisation in a relevant role

Pay & Fees header image

A salary of €35,000 applies to the IFS Specialist Apprenticeship.

Entry Requirements header image

The following entry requirements apply to the IFS Specialist apprenticeship.

Minimum Academic Requirements

Applications to the Higher Diploma will be accepted from prospective students who have

  • An Honours Degree (level 8) qualification.
  • A level 8 degree or its equivalent in any discipline is eligible to apply for this programme.
Non-standard applications will be also considered on an individual basis.

Given the target technical market for graduates of this programme, candidates will be required to demonstrate technical or mathematical problem solving skills as part of previous programme learning.

Graduates from disciplines which do not have technical or mathematical problem solving skills embedded in their programme will need to be able to demonstrate technical or mathematical problem solving skills in addition to their level 8 programme qualifications (Certifications, Additional Qualifications, Certified Experience and Assessment Tests).

Holders of technical, numerate degrees are likely to gain a higher ranking in any order of merit for admission. Typically these would be applicants who have:
I. Gained a minimum of a Level 8 qualification in a numerate discipline. Typical disciplines which would fall into this category would be
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Economics
II. Gained a minimum of a Level 8 qualification in a programme with a significant IT component and/or significant numerate element. Such programmes vary greatly in mathematical and information technology content and assessment would be by detailed examination of subject content, assessments and syllabi.

Typical programmes which would fall into this category could include
  • Management Information Systems
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Management 
English language Proficiency

Applicants whose first language is not English must attach a certified qualification of proficiency in English. The following qualifications will fulfil the College's minimum requirements for undergraduate programmes:

Irish Leaving Certificate: Ordinary Grade C
IELTS: 6.5
TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT): 600 
TOEFL Computer-based Test (CBT): 220
TOEFL (IBT): 100
ETAPP (English test for Academic and Professional Purposes): C1
TELL - Test of English Language Level – National College of Ireland

Getting an Apprenticeship header image

How to apply

Applications will be reviewed based on relevant academic qualifications. Successful applicants will be invited to a pre-selection event to be interviewed by a selection panel. Successful applicants from the pre-selection event will then meet with recruiting companies. 

What then?

When successful candidates are recruited by financial services organisations, the relevant recruitment process will commence in the organisation.

Note [August 2016]: The application process for the first intake of  IFS Specialist Apprenticeships closed on Wednesday 8 June 2016 and is now oversubscribed. No further applications can be accepted at this time. This initiative will be advertised when further places become available.

For further details click here.

Career Opportunities header image

Typical Job roles

  • Data Analyst
  • Data Manager
  • Data Scientist
  • Data Modeller
  • Data Architect
  • Data Engineer

Occupation Profile header image

Information to follow...

Progression Routes header image

Information to follow...

Occupation Data

Data Scientist

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