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 Elaine MacDonald from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:


Elaine MacDonald

Psychologist - Clinical

St. Michael's House

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  Elaine MacDonald

Make sure you are willing to go the full distance in terms of the time needed to train as a Clinical Psychologist – it’s typically at least six years academic study, and invariably this period is interspersed with work in a relevant field.

Do be as confident as you can that you’re happy being a “listener” and “observer”, as you will spend significant amounts of time in your work life as a Clinical Psychologist being in this role, as well as being in the “do-er” role and being in the limelight.

To have a good ‘fit’ with this career you’ll need to be happy working with people – as individuals on a one to one basis, with groups (e.g. families), and as part of a team in the workplace.

You need to have a good attention to detail as the job needs good observation skills, record keeping, and organisation skills.

Be prepared for learning and self-development to be on-going for the whole of your career because, as a Clinical Psychologist, you’ll be learning and using techniques and intervention approaches that are being constantly developed, and be working in accordance with policies and laws that are also constantly evolving.

The last piece of advice I’d give to someone considering this job is to be as sure as you can that you feel comfortable and even excited at the prospect of your career revolving around people and groups with all the varied, diverse, and unpredictable rewards and challenges that this brings!


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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Leaving Cert. Grades to CAO Points

Marks Grade Points for
Higher Level
Points for Ordinary Level
90 - 100 H1 / O1 100 56
80 < 90 H2 / O2 88 46
70 < 80 H3 / O3 77 37
60 < 70 H4 / O4 66 28
50 < 60 H5 / O5 56 20
40 < 50 H6 / O6 46 12
30 < 40 H7 / O7 37 0
0 < 40 H8 / O8 0 0

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Distinction 66  

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Merit 46  

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Pass 28  
Note: Best scores from 6 subjects used to calculate points.

Note: 25 Points are awarded to any passing grade in Higher Mathematics, i.e. H6 and above.

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The calculation of CAO points from QQI courses is more complex, as the modules may have different credit scores. We recommend using our QQI / FETAC Points Calculator to calculate your CAO points from QQI / FETAC courses.

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