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


Naoise Pye

Social Care Worker

St. Michael's House


  Naoise Pye
You need to be interested in people, and want to help them. Interests in Creative Arts can help as well as having a degree in Social Studies and having plenty of work experience.

Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.

The Lir - National Academy of Dramatic Art 
Dundalk IT 
Ballsbridge College of Further Education 

Sector Organisation

Department of Education and Skills

Department of Education and Skills

Department of Education and Skills Organisation Profile Organisation Profile

Contact details:
Contact Name:
Marlborough Street,
Dublin 1
What the Experts Say...
Go Questions about the sector
Go Questions about the career opportunities
Go Questions about education and training
Go Questions about global opportunities
Go Advice for people interested in this area

 Questions about the sector
What advice do you have for school leavers?
Please give an overview of your sector?
What are the main occupations in this sector?
What qualifications are required?
Are there overseas opportunities available?
What advice do you have for graduates?
What are the typical routes into this sector?
Are there opportunities in this sector for non-Irish nationals?
What types of employment contracts are there?
What is the size and scope of the sector?
What advice do you have for career changers?
What are the typical earnings of these occupations?
What are the current issues affecting this sector?
How do you get a job in this sector?
What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years
What advice do you have for non-Irish nationals?
What advice do you have for those wishing to go back to work?
Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?
What advice do you have for older workers?
Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?

What is the size and scope of the sector?

Of the order of 1million full time students use the education system each day, attending first, second level, further and higher education institutions aided by the Department of Education and Skills. There are over 4,000 first and second level schools employing approximately 57,700 Teachers. Schools also employ Care-takers and Secretaries, and Special Needs Assistants. In higher education, 29 colleges are funded by the Department providing services to 160,230 full time students.   

Education policy in Ireland is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Skills. The Department is headed by a Minister  who is assisted by a number of  Ministers of State with inter-departmental remits in youth affairs and adult education, innovation policy, disability and mental health, children, and integration policy.


Please give an overview of your sector?

Education affects all citizens and the Department faces many challenges in ensuring that it meets the needs of many stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, management, schools and further and higher education providers, employers, and society generally. Education plays a major role in shaping the values and skills of our young people, in equipping learners for participation in social and economic life, in promoting equality, social inclusion and citizenship, and in providing a skills base in the knowledge society which will support competitiveness and growth.

There are approximately 875,000 students following first and second level programmes in schools, with some 115,000 sitting Certificate examinations each year. Approximately 58,000 teachers are paid from funds administered by the Department across first and second level.

Key concerns within the system are to

  • Ensure the supply of school places for the expanding population
  • Promote social inclusion, address educational disadvantage, and provide supports for the successful integration to the optimum extent of students with special needs into mainstream settings at every level of the system
  • Ensure a broad and balanced education which meets personal, social, and economic needs and provides a range of choices to meet the diverse needs and interests of students
  • Promote intercultural education, the integration of newcomer pupils and addressing the needs of those for whom English is not the mother tongue 
  • Strengthen ICT, vocational and language skills and promote increased participation in science, engineering and technology in upper second level education, and encourage more students to seek third level and career options in this area
  • Promote the national strategy for Science Technology and Innovation, enhancing third level industry collaboration, promoting excellence and strategic innovation, significantly increasing the numbers of post graduate students and researchers in the system, and promoting world class transnational research and development capability in areas critical to economic and social development
  • Promote and market Ireland as a centre of excellence for international students in further and higher education and in English language training centres.

Our education system must continue to evolve in order to maintain quality relevance and inclusion in a changing world.

The Irish education system is structured as follows:-

Early childhood education
This applies to children aged 0-6. In general, early childhood education is provided in the private sector in crèches, naíonraí, and childcare settings, and in childcare programmes funded by the Office of the Minister for Children. The Department of Education and Skills funds a range of Early Start Programmes in areas of disadvantage, as well as  pre-school provision for Traveller pupils and those with special needs.  In addition, provision in national schools for children aged 4-6 is classified as pre-primary education.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment  (NCCA) has developed a curriculum framework for early learning, and the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education is charged with providing a quality framework for the sector, promoting and supporting compliance, and engaging in research in the area.

Primary level 
In practice, the majority of students enrol in primary schools at 4 years of age and complete 8 years in primary school.  There are some 3,300 national schools, catering for of the order of 516,000 pupils. Approximately 31,900 teachers are employed at primary level.

Post Primary level
Pupils may transfer to a secondary, vocational, community or comprehensive school of their choice and complete a 3 year junior cycle leading to the award of the Junior Certificate. This is followed by an optional one Transition Year Programme which is offered in some 540 schools.  The Leaving Certificate in its various forms (established, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) or Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA), is a 2 year programme which can be taken either immediately after junior cycle, or after Transition Year. There are approximately 304,000 students in second level schools. There are 25 subjects available at junior cycle, and 34 at senior cycle. 

Further Education
Further Education is education which is neither second level nor third level. It includes Youthreach and Senior Traveller Training Centre programmes for early schools, the Vocational Training Opportunity Scheme for unemployed adults, advanced vocational training on Post Leaving Certificate courses, adult literacy, community education, a Back to Education Initiative offering part time learning, and self funded adult education programmes. 

Provision is delivered in schools, further education colleges and out of school centres, and awards are certified by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) at levels 1 to 6 inclusive in the National Framework of Qualifications. The majority of provision is delivered by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

There are some 39,000 full time learners, and 56,000 part time or adult literacy learners. In addition, of the order of 156,000 adults avail of self funded part time adult education programmes offered in second level/FE schools. 

Vocational training is available in a wide range of disciplines covering such areas as business administration, ICT, electronics, multi-media, art craft and design, journalism, tourism and catering, childcare, construction, film, radio and sound, animation and equestrian studies.  

Third level education
Third level programmes ranging from Level 6 to 10 in the National Framework of Qualifications are offered in universities, institutes of technology, and colleges of education. An estimated 138,000 students follow full time programmes in colleges funded by the Department of Education and Skills. An extensive range of course options are available across the business, arts and social science, science, health,  engineering and technology, law, agriculture, food science and technology, education and veterinary fields.


Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?
Teaching at primary and second level is a sought after career, and skill shortages are not being experienced. The work is challenging and teachers are expected to continue to engage in continuing professional development to keep pace with changing needs, curriculum reform, integration of ICT and innovation in teaching and learning approaches.  

Within higher education, a key challenge is to increase the number of post graduate students and researchers in the system and promote world class standards in innovation, research and development. In Ireland generally, skills shortages are being experienced in such areas as science, engineering and technology, healthcare, and financial services. The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) advises Government on this issue and publishes regular reports which can be accessed here.

What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years

The demand for teachers in first and second level schools is expected to continue to grow in line with the increasing population, and as additional demands arise in regard to inclusion of students with special needs, and language supports for newcomer pupils with an English language deficit.

Curriculum reform, embedding of ICT, the demand for an array of active teaching and learning approaches, an increased emphasis on assessment in primary schools, a strengthened focus on inclusion and interculturalism, will all pose challenges for teachers and require that they continue to engage in professional development.

The role of a teacher continues to evolve as schools strengthen their links with parents, with local businesses and with community organizations, and as more emphasis is placed on facilitating students’ learning to learn, research and evaluation skills, and as technology influences classroom practice and subject content.


Are there opportunities in this sector for non-Irish nationals?

The Teaching Council is the statutory body that sets the standard of academic achievement and professional training required for teaching at post-primary school level. Qualifications that have general recognition by the Council are awarded by institutions in Ireland, with a small number being awarded by UK educational institutions. If your qualification does not have general recognition by the Council, you must submit a detailed statement of your third-level education and qualifications for assessment on an individual basis.

English Language Requirement

To be eligible to teach in the school system in Ireland at either primary or post-primary level, you must be competent to teach the various aspects of the curriculum in the English language. In the event that English is not your first language, or if your teaching qualification was granted from a country where English is not the first language, The Department of Education and Skills require that you take an oral and/or written test. You will not be granted recognition to teach in any capacity in a national school until you establish your competence in English.

Recognition of Qualifications

Primary level or post-primary school teachers who qualified outside Ireland must apply to the Teaching Council for recognition. Teachers who qualified in an EU member state can get recognition in Ireland. Qualifications obtained from outside the EU must be acceptable to the Teaching Council.

Primary Teachers who trained in another EU member State

Currently, primary school teachers who completed their training either in an EU state, or outside the EU, may teach (for up to 5 years) in an Irish school if they have been assessed by the Department of Education and Skills. They will be granted provisional recognition to teach, subject to working towards meeting the Department's Irish language requirements, within the 5-year time frame.

Post-primary Teachers who trained in another EU member State

According to EU law, an EU citizen who is recognised as a post-primary teacher by another EU/EEA country may seek similar recognition in Ireland. While they are awaiting a decision on their application for full recognition, they will be granted provisional recognition, while the suitability of their qualifications is being assessed. Any shortfall in terms of qualifications can be bridged by taking an aptitude test or by undergoing an adaptation period.


What qualifications are required?

There are various modes of entry to the teaching profession. General information is set out below.

Primary Teacher
Teaching posts are advertised by the Boards of Management of  individual schools. Selection is by interview.

To become a Primary Teacher there are two possible entry routes:

1. A Bachelor of Education Degree (B.Ed) from a recognised College of Education*.

These colleges are:

*This course is available to School Leavers (under 23 years of age) and Mature Students (over 23 years of age) with appropriate Leaving Certificate qualifications. Grants and Scholarships may be available. Interested persons should contact one of the Colleges of Education directly.

2. A Level 8 Degree or a Major Award at Level 9, plus a recognised postgraduate diploma/certificate in primary education. This is now called the Graduate Diploma in Education (GDE) and will become a two-year programme from September 2014.

The minimum entry requirements for admission to the B.Ed course are:-

  • a minimum of Grade C3 on a Higher Level Paper in not less than three subjects, to include Irish;
  • Grade D3 in three other subjects in accordance with the Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools;
  • Grade C3 on an Ordinary Level - or D3 on a Higher Level paper in English;
  • and Grade D3 in Mathematics (either Ordinary or Higher Level).

Note: From September 2012 changes to accredited courses from The Teaching Council in the Republic of Ireland mean that B.Ed programmes are now 4-year long.


A 3rd level qualification in the relevant subject area and the special conversion programme for Primary teaching (PDE) available at the Colleges of Education in:

  • St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin
  • Mary Immaculate College, Limerick
  • The Froebel College, Blackrock, Co. Dublin
  • Coláiste Mhuire, Marino, Dublin
  • Hibernia College, (on-line learning) Dublin 2

Note: Changes to accredited courses from The Teaching Council in the Republic of Ireland mean that Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) and Graduate Diploma programmes will be 2-year long from 2014.


The Department of Education and Skills will grant restricted recognition to teachers with the Montessori qualification which is awarded on completion of the three year full-time course in the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) College, Dublin and teachers with the National Diploma or Degree in Montessori Education from St. Nicholas' Montessori College, Dun Laoghaire. This Diploma/Degree is accredited by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC).

Montessori teachers with these qualifications are eligible to teach in certain categories of Special Schools and Special Classes in National Schools. They are also eligible to be appointed as resource teachers for children with special needs in mainstream National Schools.

Second Level Teacher
Voluntary Secondary Schools and Community and Comprehensive Schools:

Teaching posts are advertised by the Boards of Management of individual schools and selection is by interview. To become a Second Level Teacher in a Voluntary Secondary School or Community or Comprehensive school, you need a relevant 3rd level qualification and the 1-Year Higher Diploma in Education.


Vocational schools:

Teaching posts are advertised by the Education and Training Board. Teachers are appointed as teachers of a specific subject, and must have a qualification to Degree level in the relevant subject area. In the past it was not essential for a graduate to have professional teacher training:

Note: Changes to accredited courses from The Teaching Council in the Republic of Ireland mean that:

From September 2013 all teachers in the VEC and further education sectors will be required to have a Level 8 degree on the National Qualifications Framework and a teacher education qualification

Graduate and Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) programmes will be 2-year long from 2014.

Irish Language Qualification

No Irish language qualification is required at Secondary teaching level, unless you wish to teach in an Irish Medium School or in the Gaeltacht. In this case, The Ceard Teastas Gaeilge is a requirement.

For Primary School teaching, the Irish Qualification Scrúdú Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge must be obtained within a 5-year period of teaching, in order to be granted full recognition.

How to apply
In general teachers are recruited by the school board of management, or by the Vocational Education Committee. Teaching posts are usually advertised in the national and local press. Lists of schools may be obtained from:

Government Publications Office,
Molesworth St.,
Dublin 2

and can also be accessed on the Department of Education and Skills website at

Information on pay scales can be obtained from:

Department's External Staff Relations Section,
Irish Life Centre,
Abbey Street,
Dublin 1

or by accessing the relevant circulars at


What are the typical routes into this sector?
If you are interested in a career in the Teaching Profession, then contact:

Teacher Education Section
The Dept of Education and Skills
Marlborough Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 8734700

Or visit their website at

Career Structure.
At Primary level a teacher will be required to teach all the subjects across the Primary Curriculum. It is possible to start in a temporary capacity or as a substitute for another teacher who is on leave, or to enter a permanent post directly. Teachers can be promoted into Posts of Responsibility where they undertake duties delegated by the Principal Teacher in addition to their teaching activities.

The next level of progression is to Vice  Principal or Principal. The Principal Teacher manages the day-to-day operations of the school. Learning support and resource teachers are also employed in schools with a particular focus on providing additional support to children experiencing learning difficulties, pupils with special needs or children needing additional language assistance.

Second level schools are generally larger than Primary schools. Teachers usually provide classes in a particular subject area. They may also be promoted into Posts of Responsibility, carrying out duties delegated by the Principal. Individuals can aspire to posts of Assistant Principal, Deputy Principal and Principal. At second level, learning support teachers and resource teachers are also employed. There are also many opportunities within second level schools for part time work.

Teachers may apply for secondment to the various Support Teams which form part of the curriculum support services funded by the Department of Education and Skills which provide professional development for teachers, usually based in a network of Education Centres.  These teams work for a  2-3 year period designing and delivering training programmes  to teachers around the country, for example when a syllabus is revised, or in a key area of policy, such as assessment, addressing disadvantage, catering for children with special needs etc.

Teachers may apply for promotional opportunities in the Inspectorate Unit of the Department. The role of the Inspector is to support and advise schools on educational provision, undertake inspections and evaluations on behalf of the Department, conduct research, and advise on policy in regard to teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment and quality assurance generally.

Professional development
All teachers are expected to engage in continuing professional development. This can be through inservice courses provided by the Department, through summer and part time programmes offered by the network of education centres, or through pursuit of formally certified higher education programmes.  In some cases paid leave is granted and appropriate levels of expense are met. Teachers may also seek unpaid leave and longer term sabbaticals.


What are the main occupations in this sector?
The primary occupations in this sector comprises of the Teachers, Lecturers and Trainers operating in the Primary, Post-Primary and Tertiary education system.

In addition the Department itself is staffed by career Civil Servants under the management of a Secretary General. These staff work in various units, such as

•    Primary and Post Primary Policy and Administration
•    Further Education
•    Third Level and Research and Development
•    Youth Affairs
•    Teacher Education
•    Social Inclusion
•    Special Education      
•    Information Technology Unit
•    International Affairs
•    Planning and Building Unit
•    Inspectorate
•    Transport

Additional information on the structure of the Department can be found on the Department's website 

What are the typical earnings of these occupations?

Teacher’s basic salary, assuming a pass primary degree allowance, is in the range from €27,814 to €53,423 but there are also additional allowances for posts of responsibility and higher qualifications. 

Employment in primary schools is mainly full time, but there are opportunities for part-time work in second level schools. Primary schools close in July and August for holidays, and post primary schools are closed for most of June, and July and August.

At second level, teachers can avail of additional opportunities to work as examiners for the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations.

Further details on salary scales is available here


  Continue to...
  Go Questions about the sector
  Go Questions about the career opportunities
  Go Questions about education and training
  Go Questions about global opportunities
  Go Advice for people interested in this area

  Department of Education and Skills

School Principal
Paul Meany
"The workload is massive but the job is rewarding. In a sense it is still a vocation"
Paul Meany
Teacher - Special Needs
Padraig Parle
"Last year our school did very well in our Whole School Evaluation. Whenever I receive positive feedback from an inspector, I feel a combination of relief and pride"
Padraig Parle
Guidance Counsellor
Brian Howard
"there is great satisfaction from helping young people make important decisions on their journey through school life"
Brian Howard
Primary School Teacher
Brian Cadigan
"I feel I am good at dealing with people and teaching is all about human interaction"
Brian Cadigan
Aoife Mc Dermott
"While I work hard, I do so in my own office, organise my own time, and am free to do so once I do my job well."
Aoife Mc Dermott
Secondary School Teacher
Mary Joyce
"A lot of organisation goes with delivering a PE lesson as you must take into consideration equipment, location and safety issues"
Mary Joyce
Resource Teacher
Paul Galvan
"Prioritising learning needs for students can be challenging, as there are often subtle learning difficulties which can prove difficult to target"
Paul Galvan
Primary School Teacher
Deirdre Sayers
"There is a great sense of satisfaction in seeing another person develop both academically and emotionally"
Deirdre Sayers