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 Paul Dowling from Teagasc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Paul Dowling



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  Paul Dowling
Ideally, try and get a job in the industry for a summer, or get a bit of experience before you go into it. You have to be happy with working outside, and doing physical work. If you are not prepared to work hard or are looking for a soft job, don't go into Landscaping. Design is very sexy at the moment, everyone wants to be a designer, a Landscape Designer. It's different on the ground, you have to be out there on sites in all weather and you have to make sure projects are managed well and you're able to muck in with everyone else. Biology is most important for anyone going into Horticulture or Landscaping as it covers propagation and helps with the identification of plant names, species and families through the universal use of Latin. Chemistry is also helpful as the use of various chemicals is a constant in horticulture. The chemical content and dangers of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in use in Amenity Horticulture needs to be understood anyone going into this business. Geography would be a relevant subject as well. Also, the simple things like having a full, clean driving licence, which can make you a lot more employable if you are trying for a job with a Landscape Conractor. This indicates that you are more mobile and can also drive a company van if needed. Be sure you're happy with the outdoor life. Having taken a Horticulture course will give you an advantage. However, it's possible to take a job first and study later, e.g. in IT Blanchardstown it is possible to study at night. I think you cannot beat doing the Diploma Course in the National Botanic Gardens because it is a good practical course which also covers all the theory and is invaluable for gaining plant knowledge.

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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Disability - Changes to DARE 2017
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Changes to DARE 2017

DARE Application Advice Video 2016

What is the DARE Scheme?

DARE is is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places on a reduced points basis to school leavers under 23 years old with a disability. 

The scheme has been set up by a number of colleges and universities as evidence shows that disability can have a negative effect on how well a student does at school and whether they go on to college.

Who is it for?
DARE is for school leavers who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education but who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course due to the impact of their disability.

Important Changes to DARE for 2017

There are important changes to DARE requirements for applicants with a Specific Learning Difficulty for Entry 2017:

Evidence of Disability: A full Psychological Assessment Report of any age that clearly states that the applicant presents with a Specific Learning Difficulty (other acceptable terminology includes: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Specific Learning Disability/Disorder).


Evidence of Educational Impact: Educational Impact Statement signed off by the applicant’s school. The Educational Impact Statement can contain scores from schools based attainment testing as they apply to DARE, once these tests have been carried out within the previous two years of application.


The Educational Impact Statement can be accompanied by the results of attainment tests carried out by a Psychologist within the previous two years of application.

Applicants submitting a full psycho-educational assessment dated between 1 February 2014 and 1 February 2015 are not required to submit literacy or numeracy attainment test scores dated post 1 February 2015 provided that the attainment scores on the report meet the DARE criteria.

Please note that an IQ Score or General Ability Score is no longer a requirement for DARE.

Full details of all the DARE requirements for entry 2017 will be published in the autumn.

DARE Requirements for Applicants with DCD for Entry 2017

Applicants to DARE with DCD Dyspraxia/Dysgraphia will no longer be required to submit a full pyscho-educational assessment dated within the previous three years of application.

Evidence of Disability: A full psycho-educational assessment from an appropriately qualified Psychologist (of any age)


A report completed by an Occupational Therapist OR Neurologist OR Chartered Physiotherapist (of any age)


An Educational Impact Statement

Click here for DARE 2017 Handbook

Changes to DARE 2016

The following broad changes have been made to the DARE scheme for 2016 college entrants:

    1. New DARE eligibility criteria aim to be more holistic by including the impact that disability has on individual educational outcomes. In order to compete for a reduced points place, applicants must provide evidence of the impact of their disability on their second level education.
      2. DARE is now defined as a third level alternative admissions scheme for schoolleavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education, recognising that not all students with disabilities are necessarily educationally impacted as a result of having a disability.
        3. Broadening the avenues available to students to provide evidence of their disabilities, making it is easier and more affordable to do so. Previously, a significant number of potential DARE applicants were being excluded because they could not afford or access the evidence of disability documentation required. For 2016, where an applicant has difficulty accessing the appropriate professional to complete the Section C (Evidence of Disability), their General Practitioner (GP) may, in certain circumstances, be in a position to complete the form. A GP may do this when they have information on a clear diagnosis on file from the appropriate professional and this was received within the given timeframe if a time limit applies. Note: This GP measure does not apply to applicants who are requested to provide a full psycho-educational assessment report i.e. applicants with a specific learning difficulty or DCD.

          4. DARE (and HEAR) colleges and universities will prioritise students for consideration of reduced points offers who are:

          (i) Eligible for both DARE and HEAR. This is to address the acute obstacles faced by students with disabilities from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds – i.e. those facing the ‘double disadvantage’ of poverty and disability.

          (ii) Eligible DARE applicants with physical and sensory disabilities. This is to help address that students with physical and sensory disabilities were identified as being particularly under-represented in higher education.

          Full details of the changes to the DARE Scheme for 2017 entants are outlined in this booklet. Click to view [pdf]


          To be eligible for DARE you must meet both the DARE Evidence of Disability Criteria and DARE Educational Impact Criteria:

          Meeting DARE's Evidence of Disability Criteria

          The Guide to Providing Evidence of Your Disability below outlines the documentation you are required to submit. Detailed information on the evidence of disability criteria which is used to assess your evidence of disability documentation is available on

          Guide to providing Evidence of your disability

          Disability Documents



          Age of report
          Attention Deficit
          Disorder (ADD) /
          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Consultant Psychiatrist
          OR Psychologist
          OR Neurologist
          OR Paediatrician
          Must be less than three
          years old i.e. dated after
          1 February 2013.
          Autistic Spectrum
          Disorder (including
          Asperger’s Syndrome)
          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Consultant Psychiatrist
          OR Psychologist
          OR Neurologist
          OR Paediatrician
          No age limit
          Blind/Vision Impaired Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Ophthalmic Surgeon.
          No age limit
          Deaf/Hard of Hearing*

          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          (DARE does not accept
          reports from high
          street retailers).
          (A) Applicants with
          audiogram: Diagnostic/Clinical
          Audiologist  HSE or IAA registered
          (B) Applicants who attend a
          School for the Deaf: School Principal
          (C) Applicants with a Cochlear Implant: ENT Consultant OR
          Cochlear Implant Prog Co-ord.
          No age limit
          Developmental Coordination
          Disorder (DCD) - Dyspraxia/

          Full psychoeducational

          assessment AND
          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report

          See 2017 changes outline above

          Psychologist AND
          Occupational Therapist
          Chartered Physiotherapist
          Psychologist’s Report must be less than 3-years old i.e. dated after
          1 February 2013.
          No age limit on Occupational Therapist’s
          or Neurologist’s or
          Physiotherapist’ report
          Mental Health
          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Consultant Psychiatrist on
          Specialist Register.
          Must be less than three years old i.e. dated after
          1 February 2013.
          Neurological Condition
          (incl. Epilepsy and
          Brain Injury)
          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Neurologist OR
          Other relevant Consultant.
          No age limit
          Speech and Language
          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Speech and Language
          No age limit
          Physical Disability Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Orthopaedic Consultant
          Other relevant consultant
          appropriate to the disability/
          No age limit
          Ongoing Illness
          Evidence of Disability
          Form 2016 OR
          Existing report
          Diabetes Type 1:
          OR Paediatrician.
          Cystic Fibrosis (CF):
          Consultant Respiratory
          OR Paediatrician.
          Gastroenterology Conditions:
          Other Conditions:
          Relevant Consultant/
          Specialist in area of condition.
          Must be less than three years old i.e. dated after 1 February 2013.
          Specific Learning
          Difficulty (incl.
          Dyslexia & Dyscalculia)

          Full psycho-educational

          See changes outlined above for 2017 entrants

          Psychologist Must be less than three years old i.e. dated after 1 February 2013.

          *Students may apply under one of the following categories: (A) Applicants who have an Audiogram (B) Applicants who attend a School for the Deaf (C) Applicants with a Cochlear Implant.

          General Practitioner (GP) Verification:

          If you have difficulty accessing the appropriate professional to complete the Section C Evidence of Disability, your GP may be in a position to complete the form. Your GP may do this if they have information on a clear diagnosis on file from the appropriate professional listed above and this was received within the given timeframe if a time limit applies. This option does not apply to applicants who are requested to provide a full psycho-educational assessment report i.e. applicants with a Specific Learning Difficulty or DCD.

          Once you have provided your Evidence of Disability documentation and Educational Impact Statement your application will be assessed and the outcome of your application determined.
          The outcome of your application i.e. if you are eligible or ineligible for DARE is established by seeing whether or not you meet DARE’s eligibility criteria. Find out more about the DARE criteria which applies to your 
          disability here.

          Details of all supporting documentation required is available here

          Meeting DARE's Educational Impact Criteria

          You and your school must complete the Educational Impact Statement. In order to meet DARE’s educational impact criteria, applicants must meet the correct combinations of two of the following indicators of educational impact:

          1. Learning and Exam Results - Has your disability caused you to experience additional challenges compared with your classmates in completing homework, studying for exams, participating in class or in accessing the curriculum? OR
          - If onset (or deterioration) of your condition occurred while you were attending secondary school, has this impacted on your exam results? OR
          - Do you attend a supported or specialised school e.g. school for the deaf?
          2. Attendance and Disruption - Have you missed a significant number of days in secondary school due to your disability? OR
          - Have you missed a significant number of classes or been unable to complete full school days? This may be due to, for example, personal care needs, appointments for learning support, fatigue or your condition means that you need to take breaks from classes. OR
          - Is there any other type of significant disruption to your school experience, such as having to repeat a school year due to the impact of your disability?
          3. School Experience and Well-being - Has your potential to participate in extra-curricular or social activity been constrained as a result of your disability or condition? OR
          - Have you at any stage during your time in second level required and received support due to the emotional impact of your disability or condition?
          4. Intervention and Supports - Have you received additional support in school due to the impact of your disability? OR
           Have you been granted exam accommodations for the leaving certificate?
          5. Time Issues - Does it take considerably longer for you to complete school work or study in comparison to your classmates due to the impact of your disability? OR
          - Do you have less time than your classmates to dedicate to study or homework due to managing your condition?
          6. Other Educational Impact - Is there another educational impact related to your disability that has not been covered under any of the previous sections on this form?
          7. SLD* Attainment Scores - Do you have a Psycho-Educational Assessment report showing two literacy or two numeracy scores at or below the 10th percentile?

          *Applicants with a Specific Learning Difficulty must meet indicator 7 plus one other indicator to meet the DARE educational impact criteria.
          All other applicants must meet any combination of two indicators from indicators 1 to 6 to meet the DARE educational impact criteria.

          DARE Application Timetable

          From November 2016

          CAO applications open from 4 November 2016 at 12 noon. Intending applicants are advised to:

          1. Review the DARE Handbook with your parent(s)/guardian(s).

          2. Make a CAO application at

          3. Fill in the online Supplementary Information Form (SIF) at

          4. Complete your Educational Impact Statement with your school.

          5. Gather your Evidence of Disability documentation.

          By 1 February

          Apply to the CAO by 17.15pm at

          CAO applications open 5 November at 12 noon.

          By 1 March

          You must answer YES to Question 1 (Do you wish to be considered for DARE?) of the Supplementary Information Form (SIF)

          You must fully and correctly complete Section A (Questions 1-5) of the SIF.

          By 1 April

          You must return to The CAO, Tower House, Eglington Street, Galway, by 17.15pm, the fully completed, signed and stamped:

          1. Educational Impact Statement (Section B)

          2. Evidence of Disability (Section C) or other evidence of disability

          See Application Details 2017 for information on the type of evidence required by DARE.


           Assessment of DARE applications.

          June (After LC Exams)

          You will be notified of the outcome of your DARE application by late June.

          DARE Aplication Recheck process opens.

           Late July

          Recheck applicants will be notified of the outcome of the recheck application


          Leaving Certificate Exam Results

          Eligible DARE applicants compete for reduced points places

          CAO Offers to eligible DARE applicants

          Course offers are made and should be accepted through the CAO

          Late August /September 

          Attend College Orientation nd register with Disability Support Services

          Full details of the application information for DARE 2017 are available here

          Click here  for frequently asked questions and information on language exemptions.

          Note: Eligible students can apply for both HEAR and DARE. Those eligible for both schemes will be priorised under the new criteria in place since 2016.

          Changes to DARE  for the 2017 CAO Application Cycle

          From 2017 onwards DARE will no longer require a full psycho-educational report dated within the previous three years of application for students applying on the basis of a specific learning difficulty (SLD).

          Full details of the New DARE criteria are outlined in the 2017 publication available here. Click image to download [PDF]

          Check out the new DisAbility Access Map from AHEAD:

          Useful Links:
          Disability Access Route to Education
          Higher Education Access Route
          Student Finance