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.

The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Advice workers

Job Zone

Most occupations in this zone require job specific training (vocational training) related to the occupation (NFQ Levels 5 and 6 or higher), related on-the-job experience, or a relevant professional award.

Related Experience
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, electricians typically complete four years of training in order to perform the job.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognised apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

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These occupations usually involve using communication and organisational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include restaurant managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, hairdressers, and web developers.

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At a Glance... header image

Provide free, confidential and impartial advice to clients on their rights in a range of legal, financial, social, employment and general consumer issues.

The Work header image

Advice centre workers help people to cope with a variety of problems and to find out what their rights and responsibilities are. They respond to the requests for help from members of the public.   
Being an advice worker involves a lot more than just handing out information. It means thinking about a person's problems and helping them to approach a solution from a variety of angles, using all the available information to make the best decision. Advice centre workers do find information for their clients, but they are likely to spend time explaining the information fully, and helping the client to think about how best to use it. The work involved falls into categories such as, information, advice, referral, mediation and representation.   
Members of the public may need advice on a wide variety of issues, including employment rights, social welfare benefits, tenant's rights and consumer law. They can go to a centre to get free, impartial advice and information. It is also very important that this advice is confidential; advice centre workers handle sensitive issues. They keep accurate records of each client case.   
Unlike counselling, where the client works with one counsellor, many different advice workers may deal with one case. It is therefore very important that each advice worker can find up-to-date, accurate and data protected notes on each client, which their colleagues have put together.   
Face-to-face interviews are very important to advice giving. However, centre workers also reply to written enquiries. Increasingly, workers give advice over the telephone, and some advice organisations are moving towards setting up call centres to increase the amount of advice they give over the telephone. Technology is also increasingly important; some clients can seek advice through email and the Internet.   
Some clients need advice and support over a long period of time. In mediation, advice workers act on their client's behalf, for example, by writing letters or making telephone calls. In representation, advice centre workers present their client's case in court or at a tribunal. For example, they may be involved in legal disputes between landlords and tenants, clients' appeals against unfair dismissal from employment, or cases brought against companies that are accused of selling faulty


Personal Qualitiesheader image

As an advice centre worker, you must be committed to helping people solve their problems and achieve social justice. You must be able to empathise with clients but at the same time be able to give clear, impartial and objective advice.   
You must be non-judgemental and avoid imposing solutions. Instead, you should have a patient, open-minded approach, helping clients to work through all the available information and options.   
Good communication skills are very important. You must be able to listen carefully, and ask the right questions to find out more about the client's problems. You must be articulate and have the confidence to represent clients' cases in court or at a tribunal.   
In mediation, you will need strong written skills to write letters on clients' behalf.   
Advice centre workers should have good number skills, for example, to help clients understand benefit entitlements.   
You will need to develop a thorough knowledge of current legislation, including social welfare benefits, equal opportunities legislation and consumer law. Advice work can be very varied, so you must be well organised and able to deal with several on-going cases at the same time.   
Tact and diplomacy are very important, because you will handle sensitive issues. People who seek advice may be distressed, so you must be able to calm and reassure them.   
You will need the ability to work as part of a team and to be involved in liaison with other professionals and organisations., for example, social workers and solicitors.

Entry Routesheader image

There are no formal educational requirements for this job role, although a degree or relevant qualification in areas such as social studies, social work, community work or law, among others, may be an advantage.   
Voluntary work experience is an excellent way to find out more about this career area. Volunteering often helps applicants with accessing vacancies.

Last Updated: October, 2014

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Contactsheader image


Organisation: Public Appointments Service
  Address: Chapter House, 26/30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1
  Tel: (01) 858 7400 or Locall: 1890 44 9999
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here


Organisation: Comhairle (Citizens Information Board)
  Address: Ground Floor Georges Quay House, 43 Townsend St. Dublin 2
  Tel: (01) 605 9000
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here


Job Search

Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...

...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Social & Caring
Civil & Public Service, Local Government, Politics & EU
Community & Voluntary

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