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 Liz Christy from Design & Crafts Council of Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:


Liz Christy

Textile Design/Handweaver

Design & Crafts Council of Ireland


  Liz Christy
Think long and hard, listen to advise, plan well and be ready to make sacrifices for job satisfaction…

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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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 five state funded Colleges of Education which offer primary initial teacher education courses which are recognised by the Teaching Council for primary teaching:

Institution Web Address
Marino Institute of Education, Dublin 
Mary Immaculate College Limerick 
St. Patrick's College Drumcondra, Dublin 
The Church of Ireland College of Education, Rathmines, Dublin 
Froebel Departmnet of Primary and Early Childhood Education, NUI Maynooth, Kildare 

There are 2 routes to primary school teaching - The Bachelor of Education Programme and the Post-Graduate route.

Bachelor of Education Programme

A full-time course leading to a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree is held in each of the state funded Colleges of Education for primary teachers.

Persons who successfully complete the course may be registered by the Teaching Council.

Post-Graduate Courses

Four state-funded Colleges of Education offer an eighteen month post-graduate course. The most recent course commenced in February 2012. The course is reviewed annually, and if proceeding, is advertised in the national newspapers.

In addition, an on-line Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education, accredited by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), is provided by Hibernia College. Hibernia College is a privately-owned, non-state-funded, company. This is a part-time blended learning course which takes place over 2 years and the Higher Diploma is recognised by the Teaching Council for the purposes of primary teaching.

Entry Requirements for Primary Teaching

To view the entry requirements to the most recent Bachelor of Education and post-graduate courses click on the following links:

Entry Requirement CAO 2014

Entry Requirement Post Grad 2014

Entry Requirements Mature Students 2014


Post-primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) is provided through programmes of a consecutive or a concurrent nature.

The most common route to qualification is the consecutive route, which comprises a suitable degree and a teacher education qualification.

A suitable degree is defined as an award from a state-recognised university or similar third-level college, which enables the holder to teach at least one curricular subject to the highest level within the post-primary schools curriculum. For most subjects, this means to Leaving Certificate Higher Level.

A suitable ITE qualification is defined as a qualification from a state-recognised university or similar third-level college, incorporating three specific elements (Foundation Studies, Professional Studies and School Placement) and which is directed towards the 12 to 18 age range (first year to sixth year). The ITE programme must extend over at least one year of full-time study or equivalent.

Note: With effect from September 2014, postgraduate programmes of ITE accredited by the Teaching Council will be extended to two years full time study or 120 ECTS credits.

The Teaching Council website provides details of the individual subject requirements (subject criteria) for all post-primary curricular subjects.

The Teaching Council website also provides a list of degrees which have in the past been deemed to meet the requirements for named curricular subjects. Given that degree programmes and elective modules within degrees can change over time, it is important that this list should only be considered as a guide.

Currently, the following institutions in Ireland are providers of post primary ITE programmes:

University College Cork
Concurrent &
University College Dublin
NUI Galway
NUI Maynooth
Trinity College Dublin
Concurrent &
Dublin City University
University of Limerick
Concurrent &
Mater Dei, Dublin

St. Angela's College, Sligo

National College of Art & Design
(NCAD), Dublin
Concurrent &
Crawford School of Art & Design,
Limerick Institute of Technology,
School of Art & Design
St. Patrick's College,
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology,
Hibernia College


Registration and Recruitment Process for Teachers

Registration with the Teaching Council is essential for those wishing to work in State-funded teaching positions in the primary, post-primary and further education sectors as only registered teachers can be paid from State funds. 

Primary Teacher Posts - these are advertised by the Boards of Management of individual schools. Selection is by interview.

Second Level Teacher Posts -  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. In order to be entered onto the Register of Teachers on the basis of qualifications in post-primary teaching, applicants must comply with the requirements as set out in Regulation Four of The Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009, i.e. Candidates must hold:

  • A recognised third level degree, consisting of at least three years of full-time study or equivalent (180 ECTS credits) , and,
  • An approved initial teacher education qualification directed towards First to Sixth Years (typically students in the 12 to 18 year age range).

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: With effect from 1 April 2013, a teacher education qualification will be a requirement for all applicants applying in accordance with Regulation 4 of The Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009 for all post-primary curricular subjects.

How to Apply for Teaching Posts

In general, teachers are recruited by the school board of management, or by the Education and Training Board. Teaching posts are usually advertised in the national and local press. Lists of schools may be obtained from: Government Publications, 52 St Stephen’s Green Dublin 2, and can also be accessed on the Department of Education and Skills website. Information on pay scales can be obtained by accessing the relevant circulars at 


There is no Irish language requirement for appointment as a Post-Primary teacher in the case of the majority of teachers (i.e. those who do not need to use Irish to carry out their daily duties). There is still an Irish language requirement in the case of teachers in the following categories:

1. Those employed in Gaeltacht schools 
2. Those employed in schools in which Irish is the daily teaching medium (in the case of subjects other than Irish) 
3. Those who teach any subject (except Irish) through Irish in any school.

Teachers in these three categories are required to hold the An Teastas Gaeilge do Mhúinteoirí Iarbhunscoile (TGMI) certified by the State Examinations Commission Exemptions, as follows, apply to those who:

  • Hold a degree in Irish, with Irish as a subject in the final examination, from a recognised degree-awarding authority
  • Have passed the Oral Irish Examination for registration as a Secondary Teacher
  • Have passed the Oral Examination in the Certificate for Teaching Irish
  • Have passed the Oral Examination in the Vocational Certificate for Irish. 
For Primary School teaching: applicants to the programmes of Initial Teacher Education must meet the entry requirements in Irish i.e. a Grade C3 on a Leaving Certificate Higher Level or a recognised equivalent. 

Where an applicant for registration as a Primary teacher with the Teaching Council has completed a programme of teacher education outside Ireland, an Irish Language Requirement (ILR) condition normally applies to his/her registration. The applicant can either complete an Aptitude Test (SCG – An Scrúdú le hAghaidh Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge) or an Adaptation Period (OCG – Oiriúnú le hAghaidh Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge), which confirms the applicant's competence to teach the Irish language as well as a range of primary school curricular subjects through the medium of Irish. 

Conditional registration is granted to those in the process of completing this requirement. A maximum period of three years is permitted to satisfy this condition. 

Both the SCG (Aptitude Test) and OCG (Adaptation Period) are administered by Institiúid Oideachais Marino, Dublin 9. Full information is available here.

Montessori Teaching

Applicants wishing to be registered on the basis of qualifications as a Montessori teacher must meet the qualifications requirements set out in Regulation Three of the Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009 [click here to view]. 

Under Department of Education and Skills regulations, such teachers are eligible for employment as a teacher in restricted school settings, i.e. in certain categories of special schools and in certain classes in mainstream schools where Irish is not a curricular requirement.

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