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 Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:


Brian Macken

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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  Brian Macken

I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.

I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.

But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould).  However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.


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

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 €12.131 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

Following the establishment of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Directorate over 12 months ago, the HSE is continuing a journey of change and reform as set out in the Government policy document on health reform Future Health: A Strategic Framework for the Reform of the Health Service 2012-2015. Service improvement and ensuring that quality and patient safety is at the heart of health service delivery, are central to health service reform. This emphasis seeks to ensure that people’s experience of the health service is not only safe and of high quality, but also caring and compassionate.

The delivery of better quality care requires that the HSE puts in place the most effective clinical care pathways that are integrated across acute, community and residential care settings. This is necessary to ensure that patients and service users are supported at all stages of the care journey and in the setting that is most appropriate to their needs. To deliver on this and as part of the health service reform programme, seven Hospital Groups and nine Community Healthcare Organisations are being established. Delivery of the National Clinical Programmes will take place through these new structures. Work will continue in 2015 to ensure that these integrated clinical programmes are embedded as part of the operational service delivery system.

2015 is an important year in the ongoing reform of the HSE, with a particular focus on a) key infrastructural changes such as Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations; b) service improvements in areas such as integrated care and services for people with a disability; and c) strategic enablers such as the individual health identifier. The following are the key reform programmes being progressed:

  • Establish and develop Hospital Groups, including the National Children’s Hospital.
  • Establish and develop Community Healthcare Organisations.
  • Develop clinically led, multidisciplinary, patient centred Integrated Models of Care Programmes. This will also involve the alignment of key enablers including ICT, HR and Finance.
  • Continue to develop and implement ICT reform in line with the eHealth Strategy under the leadership of the Chief Information Officer, who takes up position in December 2014.
  • Continue to develop and implement the reform of Human Resource Management.
  • Continue to develop and implement activity-based funding.
  • Develop and implement the new finance operating model
  • Develop and incrementally implement the individual health identifier.
  • Continue to develop service-specific reform programmes within the Divisions.
  • Continue to embed health and wellbeing goals and key performance indicators throughout all reform programmes.

 Community Healthcare Organisations

The publication in October 2014 of the Community Healthcare Organisations – Report and Recommendations of the Integrated Service Area Review Group provides a framework for new governance and organisational structures for community health care services. An extract from the report states that ‘In 2014, more than half of our total health spend on operational services is in the community healthcare sector. This sector is significant and the reform of these structures will facilitate a move towards a more integrated health care Executive Summary




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

Despite the fact that there has been a reduction in levels of recruitment due to the moratorium, there are still a range of careers within the HSE that are experiencing a skills shortage.

Most recruitment is for Medical grades including Consultant and Non Consultant Hospital Doctors, Health and Social Care Professionals and 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 2013, there were over 115,000 people employed  in the Public Health Service. This included the following breakdown;

        a)     9,218 Medical/Dental
        b)     39,343 Nurses
        c)     17,901 Health and Social Care Professionals
        d)     17,614 Management/ Administration 
        e)     11,461 General Support Staff
         f)     19,666  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, Bulgaria and Romania.

Non- European Economic Area applicants who reside within the State

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

A scanned copy of your passport showing your identification i.e.the first page of your passport showing your photograph and personal details and current immigration stamp showing you have permission to be in this State


A scanned copy of your current Certificate of Registration (GNIB card) showing Stamp 1, Stamp 4/ 4EUfam, Stamp 5


A scanned copy of your current Certificate of Registration (GNIB card) showing Stamp 3 and scanned copy of the following:
Marriage / Civil Partnership Certificate


Spouse's passport showing their identification and current immigration stamp and their current GNIB card showing Stamp 1,4, or 5.


If your spouse holds a Stamp 2 for the purposes of PhD study, please include a copy of their passport showing their identification and current immigration stamp and their current GNIB card showing Stamp 2 and documentary evidence from the relevant educational institution showing that they are a PhD student.

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 visit the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation website

Please note:
The HSE welcomes applications from suitably qualified Non-EEA Nationals that have refugee status. We would be grateful if such applicants would provide documentary evidence confirming their status.



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