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 Michael Bohane from PharmaChemical Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:


Michael Bohane

QA Manager

PharmaChemical Ireland

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  Michael Bohane
Be prepared for responsibility and the rewards and problems that come with responsibility. It is very important to be comfortable making decisions and living with them. While it is impossible to be right all of the time the majority of decisions you make have to be correct.

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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Health Service Executive

Health Service Executive

Health Service Executive Organisation Profile Organisation Profile

Contact details:
Contact Name:
Dr Steevens' Hospital
Steevens' Lane
Dublin 8
+353 (01) 6352000
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?

Please give an overview of your sector?

The Health Services provide thousands of different services in hospitals, health facilities and communities throughout Ireland.  These range from public health nurses treating older people in the community to caring for children with challenging behaviour, from educating people how to live healthier lives to performing highly-complex brain surgery, from planning of major emergencies to controlling the spread of infectious diseases.

At some stage every year, everybody in Ireland will use one or more of the services provided.  They are of vital importance to the whole population.


What is the size and scope of the sector?

The Mission of the Health Services in Ireland is to 'Improve the Health and Wellbeing of People in Ireland'

It is the largest organisation in the State, employing over 100,000 people, with a budget of €14.2 billion, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Almost every one of us will use a service provided by the HSE during any given year.  An employee of the Health Services could be working in an Acute Hospital setting, a community based setting, a residential care home, a regional office or a corporate function to name but a few

The following are the categories of staff employed by the HSE.


  • Consultants - Specialty areas
  • Area Medical Officers
  • Chief Medical Officer
  • Senior House Officers
  • Registrars
  • Psychiatrists
  • Public Health Doctors


  • Dental Surgeon
  • Dental Craftsman
  • Dental Nurse


  • Clinical Nurse Managers
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Clinical Nurse Managers - Specialty areas
  • Staff Nurses - All Disciplines
  • Staff Nurses - Speciality Areas
  • Public Health Nurses
  • Midwives

Allied Health and Social Care Professionals

  • Physiotherapists (Basic Grade, Senior, Manager)
  • Radiography (Basic Grade, Senior, Manager)
  • Speech and Language Therapy (Basic Grade, Senior, Manager)
  • Occupational Therapy (Basic Grade, Senior, Manager)
  • Social Work (Basic Grade, Senior, Manager)
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Audiologist
  • Dietitian
  • Orthoptics
  • Psychologist

Science / Laboratory

  • Analytical Chemist
  • Biochemist
  • Medical Scientist
  • Pathology technician
  • Physicists

Management /Admin / ICT

  • General Administration
  • Specialist Areas:
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • ICT
  • Corporate Affairs etc

General Support Staff

  • Attendants
  • Drivers
  • General Operatives
  • Nurses Aides
  • Homehelps
  • Supplies Officers

Technical and Maintenance

  • Draughtsman/Technician
  • Electrician
  • Engineer/Engineering Officer
  • Maintenance craftsman/technican
  • Mechanic
  • Plasterer
  • Plumber
  • Technical Services Officer


Catering and Housekeeping

  • Catering Officers
  • Chefs
  • Cooks
  • Dining Room Staff
  • Housekeeping Staff
  • Porters
  • Laundry Staff

All our positions are advertised on .


What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years

A major theme of the HSE National Service Plan for 2011 is the start of the implementation of the national clinical programmes.

Clinical Strategy and Programmes has been established to improve and standardise patient care throughout the organisation by bringing together clinical disciplines and enabling them to share innovative solutions to deliver greater benefits to every user of HSE services.

A number of National Clinical Programmes have been developed. The Programmes are based on three main objectives

  • To improve the quality of care we deliver to all users of HSE services
  • To improve access to all services
  • To improve cost effectiveness

A highly ambitious plan of work has been outlined for 2011 in this regard. The focus will be on standardising care and implementing proven solutions to save lives, prevent complications, remove waiting lists and save money.  The areas that will commence implementation include:

  • Acute Medicine Programme
  • Emergency Medicine Programme
  • Elective Surgery Programme
  • Diabetes Programme
  • Epilepsy Programme

Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?

Despite the fact that there is a moratorium on recruitment within the HSE, there are still a range of careers within the HSE that are experiencing a skills shortage.

Currently the HSE is recruiting in line with the moratorium.  Most recruitment is for Medical grades including Consultant and Non Consultant Hospital Doctors, Health and Social Care Professionals and some specialist Nursing grades. 

The main skill shortages are for Non Consultant Hospital Doctors in the areas of Emergency Medicine and Psychiatry, Consultants and Specialist Nurses.


Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?

At the end of 2010, there were over 125,000 people employed  in the Public Health Service. This included the following breakdown;

        a)     8,096 Medical/Dental
        b)     36,503 Nurses
        c)     16,355 Health and Social Care Professionals
        d)     17,301 Management/ Administration 
        e)     11,421 General Support Staff
         f)     18,295  Other Patient and Client Care

A significant number of  people are also employed in the independent and private health care sectors, which includes GP practices, private hospitals and clinics.

Age Profile of Staff

The age profile of health sector staff is reasonably spread across the age bands.  At the end of 2010, 24% of staff were under the age of 35, 44.72%  between 35 and 49, 24.56%  between 50 and 59, while 6.47% were aged 60 years and over.

Gender and Working Patterns

Many health professions are often associated with one particular gender e.g. nursing is predominantly female. While some gender patterns have changed over time, it is true to say that the vast majority of health care workers are female (approx. 80%). Since 1997, the proportion of males in each grade category (including nursing) has fallen while the most significant increase in female employment (+20%) is in the Medical/Dental category. This reflects the increasing participation by women in the workforce generally.

Within each of the staff categories, Management/Administration has the highest percentage of staff who are permanent and full-time (74%), followed closely by Health and Social care Professionals (73%).  Medical/Dental recorded the lowest number of permanent and full-time workers at 29%.

Nationality of Workforce

The HSE compiled a profile of the nationality of staff in the public health services in 2007.  This shows that the HSE has engaged staff of 117 nationalities and that almost 10% of staff are non-Irish with the largest groupings coming from Asia (5.16%), EU/EEA countries (2.47%) and African countries (1.65%). Of the non-Irish staff, the five most numerous nationalities are India (20.86%), Philippines (20.38%), UK and Northern Ireland (17.48%), Nigeria (6.92%) and Pakistan (6.38%). The majority of non-Irish staff are engaged in direct service provision roles in Medical/Dental, Nursing/Midwifery and Health and Social Care Professionals.



Are there overseas opportunities available?

Healthcare is an international sector and therefore qualified healthcare professionals generally will be able to find suitable and relevant employment abroad. 

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

While the HSE is an equal opportunities employer, in line with current Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation work permit requirements, applications from non European Economic (EAA), Bulgarian or Romanian citizens will only be considered in the event that an EAA citizen cannot be found to fill a vacancy. However, we welcome applications from holders of the following documents;

  • Work Visa
  • Work Permit
  • Work Authorisation

EEA nationals who do not require work permits / visas / authorizations are nationals of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland.

Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will continue to require a permit to take up employment in Ireland and the job will continue to be subject to the current requirement for a labour market test. Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who are already in the Irish State on a valid employment permit for an uninterrupted period of 12 months or longer prior to the 31st December 2006 will not need an employment permit.

Candidates from outside the European Economic Areaor who are Bulgarian or Romanian Nationals

In order that we can process your application it will be necessary for you to submit the following scanned documentation:

  1. A scanned copy of your permission to work in this state.
  2. A scanned copy of your passport showing your identification and immigration stamp showing you have permission to be in this state.

Please note:

  • If you are the holder of a Garda National Immigration Bureau Card- Stamp 4 you must also submit a scanned copy of your Passport pages showing your identity details and the Immigration Stamp showing that you have permission to be in this state.
  • Residents in Ireland entitled to work in the state on the basis of their spouse’s work permit obtained prior to 1 June 2009 may apply. Candidates of this nature must submit the following documentation:

- Candidate’s resident visa
- Spouses work permit

  • If your Spouse obtained their first Work Permit on or after 1 June 2009 you will be required to submit scanned copies of:

- Your own permit/authorisation to work in this state
- Passport pages showing your identity and Immigration Stamp

Applications that are not accompanied by the above documents where necessary will be considered incomplete and will not be processed any further. This means that your application will not be submitted for the ranking exercise and subsequent invitation to interview.

For more details on EEA countries please see below or visit the Department of Enterprise Jobs and Innovation website


What qualifications are required?

All positions within the health sector have minimum qualifications attached to them. Certain professions, e.g nursing, medicine, and therapies require that you study and qualify in that particular area. 

There are many positions within the health sector with very varied qualifications, therefore there is something for everybody.  To check out the eligibility criteria for many positions in the HSE, please click here.

All positions are advertised on and  job specifications will outline the minimum qualifications required for that particular post. 


What are the typical routes into this sector?

Because of the amount and varied nature of the types of roles available, there are no typical entry routes. Opportunities are available for school leavers, college graduates, return to work adults and so on.

Explore Occupations in the Medical and Healthcare area here


What are the main occupations in this sector?

There are a broad range of occupations in the Health Sector.  When thinking of the Health Sector one might assume that it is mainly Doctors and Nurses, however there are vast number of careers within the sector.  The types of careers are categorised as follows:

Nursing : included in Nursing are all General Nurses, Midwives, Psychiatric Nurses, Public Health Nurses and all  Nurse Managers.

Medical/Dental : included in this category are all Doctors & Dentists.

Allied Health Professionals:  Included in this category are all therapies e.g. Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy, Radiography, Psychology, Social Workers, Audiology etc.

Management/Administration:  There is a broad range of careers in this category from, Finance to general administration, HR, Procurement, Service Management, Health Promotion, Project Management and ICT.

Support: Included in this category is the Ambulance Service, Support staff in hospitals e.g Catering, Attendants, Technical staff, Trade Staff.

Patient & Client Care - Included in this category are Care Assistants, Family Support Workers, Dental Nurses, Chaplains, Occupational Therapy Assistants etc.


  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

  Health Service Executive

Siobhan Canny
"We also attend to Caesarean deliveries and assist the mothers and fathers with the immediate care of the new born"
Siobhan Canny
Dr Jan Steiner
"I believe that it would be very helpful for every doctor to work as a nurse or nursing aid, at some stage in their career."
Dr Jan Steiner
Keith Hayes
"The role of a paramedic is very demanding and it is challenging to ensure the patient receives the best level of care"
Keith Hayes
Rachel Berry
"I enjoy the fact that there is a lot of patient contact and that we have the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives"
Rachel Berry
Speech and Language
Lisa Kelly
"I spend four mornings a week in a local primary school where there are two language units"
Lisa Kelly
Clinical Nurse Manager 2
Ejiro O'Hare Stratton
"The person coming into the job would need to be patient, able to negotiate and work under pressure, as well as work on their own initiative"
Ejiro O'Hare Stratton
Social Worker
Mary Ita Heffernan
"Our main aim is to maintain a child in the care of its parents and all supports and interventions are given in an effort to achieve this"
Mary Ita Heffernan
Care Assistant
Lydia Peppard
"I could be on the wards assessing staff performance or assessing the practical skills of those staff doing their FETAC Level 5 training"
Lydia Peppard
Recruitment Manager
Frank Morrison
"Work within the HSE is usually very challenging and tends to keep you on your toes. You won't get bored"
Frank Morrison