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 Fergal Feehely from Construction Industry Federation to give some advice for people considering this job:


Fergal Feehely

Apprentice Painter Decorator

Construction Industry Federation

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  Fergal Feehely
If you work hard and produce excellent quality work you will never be quiet.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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CAO Courses and STEM Careers

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CAO Courses and STEM Careers

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 

CAO Courses and STEM Careers

The closing date for CAO applications is Monday 1st February. If you haven't already done so, it's worth taking some time to look at STEM career areas before you pin down your CAO course choices. Graduates of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths will be in big demand in the future.

We've gathered together some STEM Careers well worth taking a look at. You might be surprised by some of the occupations that are rooted in STEM course areas:


An actuary analyses data and works with statistics, using mathematical skill to predict the probability of an event happening and its financial consequences. The decisions of actuaries can affect thousands of people so it is a well-paid job, with a lot of responsibility. Wherever there is risk, there are opportunities for actuaries.

Entry Route

Qualifying as an actuary is academically very demanding with a wide range of certifications and courses necessary. Many employers pay for these courses while an actuary is training. Degrees involvoing numbers are what employers are looking for, so those with degrees in mathematics, statistics, actuarial science, economics, business degrees, engineering and physics are on the right track.

Actuaries are in demand. For more detail visit our Occupations Database. See also Smart Futures.


The animation industry in Ireland is gaining a world-wide reputation for excellence and is growing rapidly with Irish studios producing and owning rights to more and more of their own original material. Animators are artists who use old and new technology to produce animated films that stand alone or are for commercials, computer games, pop music videos and websites. They create films or visual effects for production companies, major animation studios and computer games companies, and use various computer animation programmes and tools to improve light, texture and shadow.

Entry Route

Usually a degree level 8 NFQ. A primary degree in a relevant subject such as illustration, 3D/graphic design or computer/computer-aided engineering is an alternative gateway in the profession. A Masters in animation is also beneficial.

Animation is currently the star performer of the Irish TV and Film Industry. For more detail visit our Occupations Database. See also Smart Futures.


Biomedical engineering has a huge impact on the world we live in today. There is now a variety of medical devices and machines that can both improve health and save lives, thanks to biomedical engineering. Biomedical engineering is the combining of engineering expertise with the world of clinical medicine, developing technologies such as laser systems used in corrective eye surgery and systems for analysing blood. It is key in the development and creation of artificial organs, limbs and skin. The biomedical engineer will work with healthcare professionals including physicians, doctors, nurses, therapists and technicians.

Entry Route

A science or engineering degree is the usual entry point. The following degrees are the most common: biomedical, applied science, computation, mathematics, life/medical science, mechanical or chemical engineering.

MedTech innovation comes from interaction between medical specialists and engineers. For more detail visit our Occupations Database. See also Smart Futures.


A data scientist turns raw data into valuable insights that an organisation needs in order to grow and compete. He or she is part statistician, part artist – interpreting and analysing data from multiple sources to come up with imaginative solutions to problems. It’s a rapidly evolving role in a fast-changing sector and one that is in big demand.

Entry Route

Entry level can be gained through courses in computer science, data management, statistics, and specific software applications. However, a four year degree course is recommended for this career path. These are usually in the area of statistics, maths, business administration, or computer science. Job candidates frequently complete master's degrees to gain a competitive edge.

For more details vist our Occupations Database. See also Smart Futures


Electronic engineers create, design and develop everyday devices like mobile phones, portable music devices and computers. Electronic engineering offers a broad range of exciting career challenges including producing new innovations and developments in telecommunications, robotics, computing hardware and power and electrical equipment. 

Entry Route

Engineers who graduate after 2013 and wish to become chartered engineers will need to hold an accredited masters degree (level 9), or equivalent. Level 8 bachelor degrees will satisfy the requirements for Institution of Engineers Ireland membership only. Gateway degrees for the profession include: electrical engineering, communications engineering and telecommunications engineering.

There is currently a shortage of electronic engineers in Ireland and around the world – a situation likely to continue for some time to come. For more details visit our Occupations Database. See also Smart Futures


As a food scientist, you would be responsible for ensuring the nutritional value and safety of food. A food scientist studies the microbiological, physical and chemical properties of food, ingredients and processes within manufacturing companies, or as part of a research laboratory. They also look at how consumers behave in relation to buying food and trends in eating habits.

Entry Route: A degree in agricultural or food science. Courses may include food processing and packaging, agricultural analysis and chemistry, dairy biology, nutrition and legal issues. These programmes often offer the chance to gain hands-on, industry experience through internships.

Food Scientists are in demand. For more details vist our Occupations database. See also Smart Futures.


A geneticist is a biologist who studies the science of genes. Genetics is a branch of biology that studies the inheritance of physical traits of living things and how they are passed down through generations. It is a fascinating, rapidly evolving and hugely rewarding branch of science and medicine.

Entry Route 

A bachelor’s degree focused on genetics and/or biology. Other areas of study such as microbiology, biochemistry, biotechnology, forensics and bioinformatics/biostatistics may also be relevant.

For more details vist our Occupations database. See also Smart Futures.


If you’re passionate about sports and the application of science to improve performance and fitness, then a career as a sports scientist could be for you. A sports scientist investigates different ways to improve sporting performance through applied science. Some invent new equipment to help athletes get the most out of their training or competition. Some design and test nutritional products that might improve performance.

Entry Route

A bachelor’s degree in sports science. Alternative routes to a bachelor’s degree in this area may apply to students that have a PLC qualification in a related course or general science certification or diploma.

For more details on Sports Scientist Careers vist our Occupations database. See also Smart Futures.


A programmer writes code – but that’s not all there is to the job. Programmers must have a range and depth of skills and a strong knowledge of related areas to create “good” code.

Entry Route

Degrees in computer programming, computing, information technology, software development and software engineering are common gateways to the profession.

Programmers are in demand. For more details vist our Occupations database. See also Smart Futures.


Financial institutions are required by law to constantly manage market and credit risks. Risk analysts identify and analyse the areas of potential risk threatening the success of organisations such as investment and commercial banks. They are responsible for predicting change and future trends, as well as forecasting costs. There are high degrees of specialisation within the profession. Risk analysts may work in sales, trading, marketing, financial services or private banking, specialising in credit, market, operational and regulatory divisions.

Entry Route

Potentially open to all degree disciplines, though employers tend to prefer numerate and business-related subjects. Postgraduate degrees may aid career development. Alternative routes to a bachelor’s degree in this area may apply to students that have a PLC qualification in a related course. 

Risk Analysts are in demand. For more details vist our Occupations database. See also Smart Futures.


With a mix of creativity and technology, web designers are the ones who give websites the look and “feel” that makes people want to visit them. With a mix of skills from different backgrounds like IT, design and business, web designers design, test and maintain the websites and of companies and other organisations. They are familiar with programming languages such as HTML, ASP, Javascript, C++, SQL and Visual Basic.

Entry Route

Degrees in computing/IT or web development are common gateways to this profession.

Web Designers are in demand. For more details vist our Occupations database. See also Smart Futures.

Ask the experts ...

Read more: Studying STEM in College

The CareersPortal Team