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 Lynsey Gargan from STEPS to give some advice for people considering this job:


Lynsey Gargan

Manufacturing Engineer


Read more

  Lynsey Gargan
With regard to education I say don't worry if you think you have the wrong subjects in school. I certainly didn't have the subjects you would typically expect.

There are a number of courses that cater to different backgrounds. The most important thing is to do your research. Go to open days, talk to the colleges and generally just find out what exactly you would be getting in to.

Don't just take for granted you know what a certain course or career is all about. Think about what you like to do, and not just necessarily in school, if you find yourself being curious about how things work or how thing are made, it's a good indication that you could like something like engineering.

One of the best things about engineering is that it really can be your passport to the world. There are great travel opportunities within the industry and chances to be involved in the next big thing.

Practically every man-made product around you came from a manufacturing plant, it's a huge industry with a lot of different avenues to take. Innovation is a really big part of what engineers do. The desire to be creative and improve production and processes is an important attribute for a manufacturing engineer.

Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
Career Interviews
Sector Profiles
School Subjects (LC)
College Courses
Study Skills
Work Experience (School)
CV & Interview Preparation
logo imagelogo image
Return to List

Work & Employment
Employment Trends
Occupations in Demand
Sample Occupations
Education & Training
Further Ed/PLC Courses
Higher Ed/ CAO Courses
Other Courses
Specialist Providers
Sector Experts

Employer Profiles

Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School
The Bronwyn Conroy International Beauty School continues to lead the way in innovative and exclusive Beauty, Fitness and Health Training Courses. Train with us and receive guaranteed career opportunities.
The Fitness Institute
The Fitness Institute is an expert provider of educational training courses for the fitness industry and beyond. We conduct intensive, interactive classroom-based learning for all of our students in an open environment.
At a Glance... header image

Advertising header image


We like to think that we are immune to the persuasive powers of advertising and marketing, but in reality we are not. Just think of the amount of exposure you get on a daily basis, through advertising materials - billboards, TV, radio, magazines, direct mail, shop front displays all influence our decisions when purchasing clothes, food, cars, music and everyday items. Even our holiday destinations are influenced by advertising.  Universal access to the internet and social media now means that we are surrounded by advertising - 24/7.

Successful advertising should grab our attention, stick in our minds and most importantly, influence us to buy the product. Advertising is a huge area and it will continue to grow alongside consumerism.

Sector Regulation
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) is the independent body responsible for promoting the highest standards in advertising, promotional marketing and direct marketing.

The ASAI is self-regulatory. This means the advertising industry adopted standards drawn up by, and on behalf of all advertising interests. The standards are enforced through the commitment and cooperation of advertisers, agencies and media.

Below are some of the many different job roles in advertising:

Account Manager
Represents the client at an advertising agency and plays a key role in the development of the advertising campaign. Account Managers/Handlers are responsible for developing an in-depth understanding of the client's marketplace, their business, their objectives and then working closely with planners to translate the brief into agency creative briefs. Their job involves dealing with almost every department in managing the whole advertising process.

Strategic Planner
Strategic planners represent the consumer. People in this job are typically trained researchers and are responsible for bringing a whole consumer perspective to the communications process.

Strategic Planners develop the key strategic insight behind the advertising idea. To do this, they need to understand as much as possible about the consumer, or target market. They work closely with the client to research the market, using and commissioning quantitative and qualitative data research. The Planner will then write and present a strategy for the advertiser in response to the findings i.e. hopes, fears, behaviour, of the consumer base. 

Media Planner
Planners in a media agency will take a brief from the client which highlights the message they want to communicate to the consumer, in accordance with a particular budget or planned spend on the campaign. Together with the strategic planning people, the Media Planner will identify the optimum target audience, develop a close understanding of this audience's media habits and use this information to create a media plan and identify the channels that should be used to maximise the creative idea that will best connect with the target audience.

The Creative Department
The creative department of an advertising agency is where the advertising campaign comes together. Creatives generally work in pairs e.g. a Copywriter and an Art Director. They take the client brief and work with it to invent ideas to address the brand's business issue. Next, they work with media planners/buyers and the production department to turn the ideas generated into a reality.

An Art director is usually, but not always, art-college trained. The role of the Art Director is to respond to the creative brief by communicating ideas or moods visually.

A Copywriter may have graduated with a degree in any of a number of subject areas, but may just as easily be art-college trained too. It's not the qualification that's important — success in this field is based on creative talent. The copywriter's role is to respond to a creative brief by communicating ideas in written or verbal form. To get a job as a creative, the most important thing is your 'book' — the portfolio of your ads and work to date to showcase your talent.

Creative Services & Production Department
This is where art and creativity meet reality and commerce! - where ad campaigns are made, and make money. People working in this area need a variety of skills.

Most other disciplines within an advertising agency are pretty much set in stone, but creative services differ across advertising agencies. The following job roles typically come under creative services: 
  • Creative Services Director
  • Creative Services Manager
  • Art Buying
  • TV Production
  • Studio Project Management
  • Traffic Management and
  • Print Production.
Creative Services Director – manages all resource, ensures that the department is running efficiently and all costs spent are competitive and output is to the very highest standard. 

Creative Services Manager – people in this job role report to the Creative Services Director and take on shared responsibility and day-to-day issues in getting the project to completion. 

Art buyer – provides the creative team with a variety of photographers and illustrators that will execute the ad in the most beautiful and effective way possible. The Art Buyer manages the pre-production meetings where all aspects of the shoot are approved, e.g. casting, styling, location etc. 

TV Production Department
This department normally has a TV Producer and Production Assistants. The department is responsible for the production of all TV commercials, cinema advertising, virals, radio and mood films - basically it handles anything moving or with sound. 

Studio Project Manager – this job role handles the workload going in and out of the studio. The Project Manager's role is to oversee timing and production budgets and drive the project through to completion. They must ensure that deadlines are kept and at every stage of the process and communication between the account team and creatives.

Traffic Manager – ensures that all briefs go through the Creative Department smoothly. They have to manage the time of the Creative Team Members, juggle their workloads and allocate briefs with the Creative Services Director. 

Production Manager – The Production manager is responsible for the output from all advertising campaigns.
Featured Content


Agriculture header image

The land area of Ireland is 6.9million hectares of which about 4.2 million hectares (64%) is used for agriculture. Beef and milk production account for approximately 58% if Irish agricultural output. There are 139,000 family farms in Ireland, producing enough food each year to feed 36 million people.

Agriculture is not just confined to farming - the sector is linked to everything from the clothes we wear (cotton jeans and t-shirts, woollen jumpers and coats, leather shoes and jackets) to the food we eat and drink - it is worth €24 billion to the national economy annually. When we go on holiday or even pursue our hobbies we often engage the services of people working in the Agriculture Sector.

Tillage Farming
The cropped area in Ireland extends to 378,000 ha or 9% of farmed land. Crop production (including horticulture) contributes €700 million to agricultural output. There are 11,000 growers with a further 15,000 employed in the food processing sector dependent on tillage crops. Crop production amounts to 2.3 million tonnes annually while a further 3 million tonnes of animal feed ingredients are imported. Irish cereal yields are the highest in the world.

[See also Agri food

Dairy Farming
Dairy is a huge industry in Ireland. Irish dairy production is expected to grow by 50% by 2020 from 5.5bn to 7.5bn litres.

Bord Bia Infographic
The business environment for dairy farming is changing rapidly - the removal of milk quotas provides an opportunity for dairy farm businesses to expand. Herd size will increase on many dairy farms over the coming years, requiring an increased level of skill in both the physical and financial management capability of farmers.

The expanding Irish dairy industry can now provide a range of attractive career opportunities that can potentially lead to farm and business ownership.

 Those from a non-farming backgrounds who have an interest in pursuing a farming career should carefully assess the dairy career opportunities of interest to them.  The dairy industry wants to attract new, well trained and highly motivated people into the sector at all levels. Increasingly, it is providing significant opportunities for progression upwards from one career role to another.

"The expanding Irish Dairy Industry can now provide a range of attractive career opportunities that can potentially lead to farm and business ownership."

"Stepping Stones to a Career in Dairy Farming"
TEAGASC, July 2015

Government Labour Reports forecast a decline in the number of people employed in traditional agriculture careers such as farming, but the wider sector offers many new career opportunities such as Food Scientist, Horse Breeder, Environmental Officer/Management and Agricultural Research.

Although the nature of some of the work in this sector can be very physical, it offers a healthy and rewarding lifestyle. As a starting point, you should consider whether you would enjoy the outdoor life and working with nature.


Agriculture-related businesses include: Supplying farmers - i.e. the manufacture and sales of animal feed, fertiliser, equipment, machinery and even insurance; and the Marketing of farm produce - i.e. the distribution, processing and retailing of agricultural and horticultural products to consumers. There are currently over 50,000 people employed in these areas. 


There is a growth in outdoor recreation and it is creating career opportunities for people supplying professional tourist services in rural settings in activities such as horse-riding, fishing, golfing, sailing and hill-walking and accommodation. Many farmers are now opening their farms up to tourists. This form of expanded Agri-tourism has potential to offer full and part-time careers.

Further Education Options

QQI Level 5 (Certificate) and Level 6 (Advanced Certificate) major award programmes in agricultural, horticulture, forestry and equine studies are available with Teagasc.

The Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management (Level 7) programme can also be completed with Teagasc, as a progression from the Level 6 Advanced Certificate.

There has been a large increase in the number of applications for Teagasc courses in recent years, driven by a new found confidence in farming and food production. The abolition of the milk quota in April 2015 and the roll out of Food Harvest 2020 will further boost confidence in the sector.

New entrants to commercial farming - advice is to complete a specialised QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture specialising in dairy herd management, drystock management or crops/mechanisation at agricultural colleges.

The Equine Industry

Horse Racing and breeding contribute almost €1bn annually to the Irish economy and employs over 17,000 people. There are some 7,700 registered thoroughbred horse breeders in Ireland and nearly 1.2m people attend race meetings during every year year. Over 9,000 horses are in training, with are over 20,697 registered stallions, mares, and foals in the country. 

The Irish sport horse sector caters for related disciplines such as show jumping and dressage. This sector directly employs 11,417 people, and involves 47,096 people overall. There are an estimated 124,000 sport horses in Ireland. They contribute to the household incomes of 29,295 people. Sport horse breeding accounts for a total expenditure of €226m within the economy and the sector has 15,110 active breeders.

Further Education Options
Teagasc provides high quality education and training for the equine sectors at both Level 5 and Level 6. Th e QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horsemanship is offered at Kildalton College. Subject to adequate demand, a Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Stud Management programme leading to a QQI Level 6 Certifi cate in Equine Breeding may also be offered.

Ask the Experts ... 
Our Sector Expert Teagasc is the primary provider of further education courses in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, food, and equine studies. Many courses incorporate management practices and the use of technologies on the home farm, with supervised project work and discussion groups.
View Teagasc Courses here
Featured Content


Visual Arts header image

The visual arts is the term used to describe creations we can look at i.e. drawings, paintings, sculpture, architecture, photography, prints, film - the creation of a two or three dimensional visual.

Visual arts are a sub section of Fine Arts, which also includes Dance, Music, and Theatre. [See Entertainment & Performing Arts for a detailed description of Dance, Music and Theatre]. Creative arts and media encompass the visual arts - graphic arts, film, drama, music and performing arts, in addition to aspects of the work of museums and galleries, and, in a wider sense, architecture.

Architecture is the design of buildings and structures. Architects may be involved in designing widely varying projects, from a residential house, to a stadium such as the Aviva, to large scale town planning. To qualify as an architect takes 7-9 years. You must first get a degree from a recognised school of architecture, followed by two years of approved practical experience and then succcessfully complete an examination in Professional Practice. The Royal Institute of Architects Ireland (RIAI) is the registration body for the Profession. The EU has a directive on architectural qualifications and any course recognised under the directive is also recognised by the RIAI. The RIAI list currently includes UCD, DIT, WIT, UL, UCC, CIT, QUB and UU.

Photography - Photographers specialise in many different areas. Some take pictures for journalism and the print media, others  for specialist medical and scientific publications. Some choose to run a small studio, but most are self-employed and work freelance and are in demand to cover all the special events in our lives such as weddings, christenings, and family portraits. There are a variety of courses in photography available at certificate, diploma and degree level. Explore the course menus on the Left hand Side of this page. Check individual course details and specific entry requirements.  A portfolio of work may be an entry requirement.

Printmaking - Printmaking is the production of images either on paper, or on other materials such as fabric, parchment, plastic, by various specialist processes of multiplication such as woodcut, linocut, lithography, silk screen, or etching among others. There are no formal education requirements for printmakers, but a Bachelor's degree in fine arts with an emphasis in printmaking can serve as the first step toward a career in printmaking. An apprenticeship is a route for a student to learn the trade and to increase career opportunities. Many established printmakers teach and run classes to support themselves and finance their work. They may also offer technical or advisory support to students.

View the Sample Occupations menu on this page to explore Visual Arts occupations such as Artist, Printmaker or Sculptor in detail.

[Visit the Media and Publishing Sector  for information on Film-making, animation, television and related careers]

Featured Content


Building & Construction header image

Building and Construction has a dual role the economy:

  • It directly provides 96,300 jobs across a variety of occupations and levels of skill, accounting for 5.2% of total employment and 6.4% of GNP. An additional 48,000 indirect jobs are provided through the sector. (Forfás, July 2013)
  • It provides and maintains the physical infrastructures and buildings on which other industry sectors and society depends. 

The construction sector is made up of over 40,500 enterprises, significantly less that in the boom time years. However, the overall company size profile remains roughly the same. The majority (96.7%) of construction companies are small businesses, employing less than 10 people.

Like most areas of work, it’s only when we do a little research that we begin to unravel a surprising range of both interesting and rewarding careers. A construction career really depends on how much physical or technical work you want and the level you decide you want to work at.

Construction projects are varied and can include house building, building of schools and hospitals, water supply networks, transport systems, and power stations. When something is under construction or in the pre-planning construction stage, it is referred to as a building project. 

Careers in construction can be divided into four main areas:

  • Construction Craft Workers (Operatives, Labourers)
  • Trade Craftspeople (Four year apprenticeships)
  • Engineers and Surveyors
  • Architects

Construction Craft Workers

Over 40,000 people work as general operatives in the construction sector. In the past, these jobs were referred to as 'labourers' and regarded as unskilled roles. Today, these on-site jobs have become more specialised - Steel workers, Pipe layers, Scaffolders, Heavy goods vehicle drivers, Machine operatives, Asphalt layers and Demolition workers - all require a good deal of training and skill. 

Training for construction craft workers is sometimes offered ‘on the job’ but an approved, certified course is becoming the norm. In order to work in any capacity on a building site you must have a Safe Pass Certificate.

The slow down in the sector resulted in little employment for general operatives in this area and also made it very difficult to get apprenticeships. However, this situation is now improving and there are many opportunities for apprenticeship now becoming available.

Trade Craftspeople

There are a large number of Trade Craftspeople operating in this sector. Trades in the industry divide into 'wet trades' (trades which use dry building materials that are mixed with water e.g concrete, mortar or plaster) and 'dry trades'.

  • Brick and Stonelayer
  • Plasterer
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Carpenter/joiner
  • Painter/Decorator
  • Tiler
  • Construction plant fitter
  • Fitter

Craftspeople in these trades have been trained as apprentices under the Designated Crafts Scheme with SOLAS (formerly FÁS).

Apprenticeship is the recognised means by which people are trained to become craftspeople in Ireland. Explore our comprehensive area on Apprenticeship here.

Engineers & Surveyors

The construction sector employs many different engineering and surveyor roles. Civil, structural, building services, environmental and geotechnical engineering roles are required, as well as specialist areas, such as acoustics engineers. Civil engineers evaluate, research and manage  major civil engineering schemes, while building surveyors examine properties and advise on any defects.

Engineering Careers - Download the 2015 Engineering Sector Overview from
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
Building Services
Civil Engineering
Engineering Life
Building Services Engineering
Civil Engineering
Engineering Life

The main employers of engineers are consultants, who advise clients, develop designs and oversee projects, and contractors, who carry out building work. Engineers are also recruited by developers and by large clients, such as retailers and local authorities.

What on earth in surveying? Video explaining what working in land, property and surveying is all about.


Surveyors are highly trained and experienced professionals that are employed throughout the construction, land and property sectors. They work across all aspects of the built and natural environment for a variety of employers, including auctioneers, valuers, developers, construction firms, facilities management, as well as county councils and state agencies. They generally specialise in one of the following areas:


  • Quantity Surveyor – advises on the costs of developing all types of buildings and infrastructure.
  • Building Surveyor – carries out building surveys and provides management and design consultancy services.


  • Geomatic Surveyor – maps the built and natural environment to provide accurate spatial data which facilitates planning, development and conservation. Geomatics is currently one of the most in-demand technical skills in the world!
  • Mineral Surveyor – provides expertise in the full life cycle of mineral development.


  • Residential Agency Surveyor – provides professional expertise in the valuation, management, letting and sale of residential property.
  • Commercial Agency Surveyor - provides professional expertise in the valuation, management, letting and sale of commercial property.

Video: Geomatic Surveying ~ SCSI

"Geomatics is currently one of the most in-demand technical skills in the world!"

For more information of types of surveyors click here.

While the property sector has contracted in recent years, it is anticipated that there will be greater opportunities for graduates. Many large property agencies have graduate programmes which provide excellent training in all aspects of property – from commercial (offices, retail, industrial), residential sales and lettings, professional services and property management.

In the future, graduates will enter a far more regulated property and construction sector and high standards of education and qualifications will be a prerequisite for employers and clients in the public and private sectors. Professional membership of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland is a sign of high standards of professionalism in the construction, land and property sectors. 

Some of the many college courses available include an industrial placement year, when students can apply their learning in the workplace, gain practical experience and forge industry links. Colleges include DIT Bolton Street and the Institutes of Technology.


Architects are the professionals in the sector who plan and develop designs for construction projects. Designing a building involves many steps:
  • Visiting and surveying the site;
  • Discussing with the clients what kind of building they want;
  • Developing a preliminary design for the building and refining it to make sure that it meets the clients' needs and budget and complies with the regulations;
  • Applying for planning permission;
  • Preparing detailed drawings and specifications;
  • Obtaining quotes from builders;
  • Administering the contract between the client and the builder
  • Checking that the building is being constructed in accordance with the drawings;
  • Making sure that payments to the builder are in order.

Once qualified, the variety of work open to you as a professional architect is wide ranging. You can work for yourself, or as part of a team in a small or large private practice. The architectural section of Government Departments, Local Authorities, Semi-State or commercial organisations also employ architects. You may wish to specialise in certain types of building, or concentrate a particular aspect of the job, such as design, technology, architectural conservation or project management, depending on your own interests, abilities and opportunities. Some architects choose academic careers in teaching and research.

[See also The Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI) here for detailed information on becoming an architect or an architectural technologist in Ireland.]

Construction Management

Another key role is the much sought after construction manager who plans and manages the building operations. The construction of any major building project is a feat of co-ordination and involves managing a range of people with specialist skills. Many construction managers progress through the ranks from a starting point as an apprentice, with further education and training along the way.

In general, construction professionals have spent a number of years in third level education and must meet the specific requirements of their particular professional body.


Many people work as Technicians alongside the professionals in the building and construction sector. Technicians carry out duties under the supervision of their respective professionals. Job roles include Building Technician, CAD Technician, Structural Design Technician and Construction Technician among others. Technicians are likely to have taken a course in 3rd Level (Level 6 or 7) in one of the IT Colleges around the country.

Town Planning

Planners are involved in making long and short-term decisions about the management and development of cities, town, villages and the countryside. Most Town Planners work in the public service with local authorities but many have consultancy roles within the architecture and construction areas.

Planning is a broad area of work that requires many different skills. Some planners specialise in a particular area of work. Key planning activities include:

  • Researching and designing planning policies to guide development
  • Developing creative and original planning solutions to satisfy all parties
  • Consulting with stakeholders and other interested parties and negotiating with developers and other professionals, such as surveyors and architects
  • Assessing planning applications and enforcing and monitoring outcomes as necessary
  • Researching and analysing data to help inform strategic developments
  • Designing layouts and drafting design statements
  • Using information technology systems such as CAD (computer-aided design) or GIS (geographical information systems)
  • Attending and presenting at planning boards and appeals and at public inquiries
  • Keeping up to date with legislation associated with land use
  • Promoting environmental education and awareness
  • Writing reports, often of a complex nature, which make recommendations or explain detailed regulations

DIT runs a diploma in Planning and Environmental Management which trains technicians in urban and rural planning.

Getting into the sector

In order to achieve the high level of quality required in the construction industry it is important to produce highly skilled personnel who are trained to adapt to new technologies. The industry is now very much management oriented and most people working in construction have third level degrees.

Opportunities in the Building and Construction Sector will remain into the future, especially for those with specialist and professional skills and qualifications.

Featured Content


Business Management header image

Business Management

Management in simple terms means the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals. Management is made up of planning, organising, resourcing, leading or directing, and controlling an organisation for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. A manager's job is to maintain control over the way a business or an organisation does things, while also leading, directing and inspiring their staff. A key managerial responsibility is 'resources'. This means finding the right people (Human Resource Management) or money (Financial resources), or whatever else is required to keep an organisation running. Other resources that a manager may be responsible for include:

  • Information Technology (IT)- ensuring effective IT systems are being used in the organisation
  • Materials - making sure materials are used productively and with minimum waste
  • Time - ensuring time is used efficiently across operations
  • Buildings, machinery and equipment - ensuring safety, appropriateness, maintenance and efficient use 

Managers have responsibility for the many services that allow organisations to operate efficiently. Specific duties for managers vary according to the degree of responsibility and authority they have.Business Management roles can be found in all of the following example areas:

  • Retail  -  supermarket or store manager
  • Manufacturing - production or personnel manager
  • Utilities   -  operations manager (electricity, gas and water supply)
  • Construction  -  project management
  • Distribution  -  distribution/logistics manager
  • Hotel & Catering -  hotel manager
  • Transport  -  ICT and business services manager

Managers can exist at different levels in an organisation:  Senior management is generally a team of individuals at the highest level of organisational management who have the day-to-day responsibilities of managing a big company or corporation. People with even greater levels of responsibility, such as a Board of Directors and those who own the company (shareholders), will focus on managing the senior management, rather than the day-to-day activities of the business.

Large organisations may have many managers: Managers in charge of different regions (Regional Managers); Managers in charge of different aspects of the business, for example they might manage a department (sales) or particular function (IT). These mid-level managers develop departmental plans, set goals and deadlines, implement procedures to improve productivity and customer service. Mid level managers may also be involved in the hiring or dismissal of employees (HR Managers). 

Getting into Business Management

Educational requirements for business organisation and management vary widely depending on the size and complexity of an organisation. In small companies a two-year Higher Certificate from a Third Level College would be desirable. Some work experience may also be required for positions in office management. In larger organisations where specialist management roles are performed, higher business and management qualifications are usually looked for, such as level 7/8 Degrees.

Employers typically seek job applicants with commercial awareness for management positions. Business studies graduates should have the edge here because they develop specific skills: business analysis; marketing; research methods; sensitivity to organisational needs; and good quantitative skills during their studies. Those wishing to enter into HR should try to ensure that this topic is part of their degree programme.

Business graduates consistently have good prospects across the industry sectors in the areas of business services, legal services, the regulatory environment, financial services, communications, social services, tourism, culture and marketing. 

Business Organisation

All businesses have employees, who work at different levels of responsibility, depending on their place in the structure of the business, or the way in which the business is 'organised'. The organisational structure indicates such things as: the method of leadership that the business uses; where the dividing lines are for responsibility; lines of communication; company policies; authority and chain of command; and the direction of information flow etc.

Business organisations commonly adopt either a Hierarchical organisational structure, or a Flat structure. 
Some may opt to follow a Matrix or Cluster model.

Hierarchical business organisations are like a pyramid - they have employees at many different levels, with a clear 'Chain of Command' in place:

Top Level:

Board of Directors; President; General Manager;

Chief Executive Officer (CEO); 


Finance Manager; Production Manager; HR Manager;

Sales & Marketing Manager; Operations Manager; 

Entry or Operational Level:

Senior Accountant; Assistant Accountant;

Area Sales Manager;

Production Supervisor; Team Leader;

Sales Staff; Production Operatives;

At the bottom, or lower end of the chain of command are Operatives, the staff who produce the products or services that the business offers. Operatives report to the next level e.g. Team leaders, who are responsible for day-to-day, hands-on management roles. Team Leaders in turn, report upwards to roles such as Operations Manager, who in turn reports to a General Manager.

The number of employees at each level of the hierarchical business structure depends on the size of the organisation. Opportunities for promotion up through the business may be from a department, to become an expert in a particular area or function, to then run a section and become part of the Management Team.

Featured Content


Chemical Science & Engineering header image

Chemical or process engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the application of physical science (e.g. chemistry and physics), with mathematics, to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms. In addition to producing useful materials, chemical engineering is also concerned with pioneering valuable new materials and techniques, an important form of research and development.

Engineers Ireland is the professional body for Chemical and Processing engineers and engineering.

Chemical engineering largely involves the design and maintenance of chemical processes for large-scale manufacture. Chemical engineers in this branch are usually employed under the title of Process engineer. The development of the large-scale processes characteristic of industrialised economies is a feat of chemical engineering, not chemistry. Indeed, chemical engineers are responsible for the availability of the modern high-quality materials that are essential for running an industrial economy.

The difference between chemical engineering and process engineering lies in the emphasis of the degree course: while chemical engineers concentrate mainly on chemical processes, process engineers deal primarily with the plants needed for this, their design and technical conditions.

Chemical engineering is responsible for the production of chemicals for use in our everyday lives. Chemical Engineers work in a wide range of areas including:

  • Water and waste water treatment
  • Oil refinement and petrochemicals
  • Electricity generation
  • Food and beverage production
  • Cosmetics and textiles
Chemical and process engineers are in demand by the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in areas ranging from environmental protection and the food industry, to plant construction. In the oil industry, for example, they supervise refineries; in the cosmetics industry, they make sure that skin creams do not go mouldy even without preservatives or that nail varnish is long-lasting.

Chemical and process engineers often work on projects with mechanical engineers, materials scientists or electro-technical engineers. The role of the process engineer is to maintain a good overview of the work.

The chemical and biopharmaceutical industries continue to be among the fastest growing sectors in Ireland. Nine of the top ten companies globally (Pfizer, Merck, GSK, J&J, Novartis, Roche, Amgen, Eli Lilly and BMS) have research, manufacturing and services activities here.

The National Skills Bulletin Report lists Chemical and Product Formulation Engineers and Analysts among the most frequently cited difficult to source engineering occupations, with reference to the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical devices and chemical industries sectors.

Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
Featured Content


Civil & Public Service header image

The Civil and Public Service is made up of the various Departments and Offices which provide services for and on behalf of the Government and employ thousands of people: 

Department/Office No. Employed
Central Government Bodies (the “Civil Service”) 36,329
Local Authorities 28,306
Health Services 101,505
Education Services  90,702
The Defence Forces 9,979
An Garda Síochána (Police) 13,352
Non‐commercial State‐Sponsored Bodies 10,686
Total 290,861
Source: Irish Presidency Survey on the Structure of the Civil and Public Services of the EU Member States and Accession States.

These offices and departments work with the Government to create and implement new policies and services, dealing directly with the public or even providing market research information.

The Civil Service offers people the opportunity to work in a wide variety of roles, across its Departments. There are also opportunities to work nationwide as many Government offices are based throughout the country. In some cases there may even be opportunities to work abroad.

Career areas include education, health services, transport, finance, library services, fire service, IT, community based opportunities, arts and leisure opportunities and many more. 

Occupations are diverse, ranging from accountancy to HR to customer services. Clerical, administrative, management, technical and specialist staff all have significant roles to play.

Jobs are available at different levels in the Civil Service - titles include: Clerical Officer (CO); Executive Officer (EO); Higher Executive Officer (HEO);  Administrative Officer (AO); 
Assistant Principal (AP); Principal, Secretary General and Third Secretary

Clerical staff carry out routine work on files, answer phone or email queries from the public and generally assist Middle and Senior Managers.

Management grades deal with more difficult casework and are responsible for implementing schemes. Graduates are often recruited at Administrative Officer level to formulate and amend policy.

There are also professionals recruited to a wide range of specialisms. Senior managers manage and deliver results, giving leadership and direction to the organisation. They need to be able to work effectively with a diverse range of people including Ministers, other civil servants, people from the wider public service and the private and voluntary sectors.

Getting into the Civil Service

There are three streams in the Civil Service:

Administrative grades - general service grades or generalists who may serve in any Department and Departmental Grades (i.e. specific to certain departments e.g. Junior Diplomat in Department of Foreign Affairs; Inspector of Taxes)

Professional grades - professional civil servants are graduates in particular specialisms. Generally they will remain in that specialism throughout their civil service career, working their way up the ranks. In addition they are also entitled to apply for open promotions for administrative positions throughout the civil service

Industrial civil servants - e.g. gardeners, craftsmen etc

The entry qualifications for junior management level, e.g. Executive Officer requires minimum level 5 (NQAI Framework). Graduate entry level requires minimum level 7/8 (NQAI Framework) (Administrative Officer/Junior Diplomat). Entry at higher levels, including the top management grades, both administrative and specialist, will be dependent on the level of work experience of the candidate and his/her educational qualifications.

What competencies does the Public Appointments Service look for?  Explore the particular competency model for each job role click image.

Professional and Technical Positions in the Civil Service

There is also a wide range of professional and technical positions in the Civil Service, the wider Public Service and Local Authorities:
  • Accountancy/Audit
  • Agricultural Science
  • Architecture
  • Barrister
  • Chemistry and Applied Science
  • Engineering
  • Inspector
  • Law Clerk
  • Marine Biologist
  • Planner
  • Psychologist
  • Scientist
  • Solicitor
  • Veterinary Surgeon
[See 'Sample Occupations' menu for a detailed description of each job role].

Public Appointments

Recruitment for all jobs in the Civil & Public Service is undertaken by the Public Appointments Service.

Note: The recruitment and promotion moratorium that has been place since 2009 in the public service, was lifted in a targeted way under Budget 2015. Recruitment campaigns for Clerical Officer and Executive Officer positions have taken place this year.

[See 'Ask the Experts' for detailed information].
Featured Content


Software & Programming header image

Software and Programming are central to the computer industry.  In order to function, a computer needs information about its task and it needs to be programmed to do what you want it to. This is the software.

Ireland is Europe’s premier location for software development. There are over 730 indigenous software companies, employing over 10,000 people. Since the 1980s, leading US software vendors, including Microsoft, Oracle and Symantec, have based their European operations centres in and around Dublin.

Nine of the world's top 10 software companies have established a significant presence in Ireland. Traditional players with long-established operations, such as Intel, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Apple, have been joined by newer firms at the forefront of the internet and social media revolution: 
Google; Facebook; LinkedIn; Amazon; PayPal; EBay, and most recently Twitter, firmly positioning Ireland as the internet capital of Europe.

Ireland has overtaken the USA as the biggest exporter of software in the world.  60% of all software sold in Europe originates in Ireland.

Some of the career roles that can be found in this area:  

  • Software Development: This is the process of developing software to meet the requirements of the end users (the customers). This would include roles such as the Systems Analyst - individuals who analyse and design software systems that meet requirements. Programmers and Developers are involved in writing the code or instructions that tell the computer what tasks to carry out. Programmers need to learn the computer languages (e.g. C++, Java, COBAL) which are used to develop software, and because there are many languages, and they keep getting more powerful, students and workers in this area need to constantly keep up with the latest developments.
  • Software Engineering: These roles combine experience in computer science, engineering, and maths to design, define, and organise many aspects of a complex software product.
  • Quality Assurance & Testing: Every piece of software that is written must be tested extensively, and this requires the work of QA engineers.
  • Technical Writing: Technical writers are professional writers who design, create, maintain and update many types of technical documentation, online help, user guides, white papers, design specifications, and other documents. Involves the writing of computer manuals for the customers of new computer software
  • Technical Support: Support that is given to the computer hardware or software user from the manufacturer of the equipment or developer of the software. This includes help in installing and using the products.
  • Database Management: The people who design and maintain databases of all sizes.
  • Web Design: The design of websites for businesses and organisations
  • Project Management: Just about all software design involves complex projects that need to be managed. IT Project managers are the people in charge of delivering a project on time and within budget.
  • Marketing and Sales: The research and promotion, advertising and sales of computer products.
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
Computer & Software 
Engineering Life
Computer and Software Engineering


Featured Content


Clerical Work header image


The services provided by clerical staff are needed in schools, colleges, hospitals, government agencies, corporate and small businesses, medical and legal offices, art galleries, community sector organisations and many, many more.

The day to day work of someone working in a clerical role involves tasks such as answering the phone, typing and word processing, chasing up accounts, organising and filing data, addressing the needs of senior staff, briefing clients and sometimes the general public. 

Clerical jobs tend to be more entry level than those in administration. They typically involve doing basic functions under an amount supervision. Administrative roles can mean that the job is a bit more senior - you may have your own area of supervision to ensure a task gets done and require less supervision in the particular role.

Clerical roles include:

Clerical Assistant (also called Clerk or Clerical Worker) - tasks include the routine, day-today administrative tasks in a business or organisation, or in a department within the organisation. People in these jobs are very organised, have good IT and written skills and a good telephone manner. Responsibilities include filing, dealing with post, recording and maintaining data using computer or manual systems, and other general office duties. Their work provides support to an office team.

In larger companies where you are part of a team of 'clerks', you can work your way up to Senior ClerkSection Head or Office Manager. You can also choose to specialise in a particular area of clerical work such as Accounts ClerkLegal ClerkHR Assistant, or Personal Assistant (PA).

Front Office Staff

Front office staff, such as the Receptionist, play a key role in organisations because they reflect the image of the organisation in which they work. Since they are the first point of contact between the public and the organisation, either by telephone or in person, they communicate certain messages by how they look, dress and behave. 

Because of the increasingly fast pace of business life today, all clerical staff must learn how to function efficiently under pressure, and in a multiplicity of ways, in a fast changing environment. The public who interact with the organisation can be very demanding. Front office staff must be able to deal with the public in a calm, but efficient, friendly manner.

For this kind of career, you need to have good written and spoken English. It is becoming increasingly important to be reasonably proficient in at least one other European language. Qualities such as good organisational skills, keyboard and computer skills, competence in managing office requirements, good communication skills, a pleasant manner and a neat and tidy appearance are also important.

A degree is generally not necessary for entry into clerical work. An office skills training course may be useful for certain positions. 

Getting into Clerical and Administrative work

These job roles typically require strong written and spoken communication skills, together with computer skills, organisational and time management skills, and to be able to complete tasks to a high standard. 

A large number of courses relevant to careers in Clerical and Administration are run in PLC and IT colleges throughout the country. Students taking these courses gain experience in all aspects of the technology relevant to the smooth running of modern office environments.

Courses are usually one year in duration and are full-time with work experience provided as an integral part of their study.  These courses aim to equip their students with the necessary practical and computing skills and the knowledge necessary for the dynamic world of business.

[Explore the CAO and PLC/FETAC course lists available on this page]

Courses would typically include subject areas such as IT skills (Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Database), Business Law, Book-keeping, Communications and Business Calculations.

Advanced administration courses are also available for specific sector areas. See the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) for a wide range of accredited courses.

Clerical and administrative staff can work as part-time or full-time employees. Salaries for individuals in clerical and administrative jobs are wide-ranging, from a starting salary of €18,000 for a secretary, upwards depending on the type of position as well as years of experience. 

Featured Content


Pre-Primary Education header image

Unlike many other European countries, Ireland does not have a tradition of pre-school education. Until very recently, there was no public funding available for early childhood education except for a very small number of specific pre-primary centres for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, including children of the travelling community.

The compulsory school age in Ireland is 6 years, and pre-school children are “children under 6 years of age, who are not attending a national school or equivalent”. However, children from the age of 4 can be enrolled in infant classes in primary schools. Nearly half of 4-year-olds and virtually all 5-year-olds attend primary school. With the exception of the above, early childhood education and care services in Ireland are delivered outside the formal education system, by a diverse range of private, community and voluntary interests and are described variously as crèches, nurseries, pre-schools, naíonraí (Irish language pre-schools), playgroups and daycare services. All forms of pre-primary education are optional.

A free Pre-School Year was introduced in 2010 which is administered by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Under this initiative, all children are entitled to a free pre-school year of appropriate programme-based activities in the year prior to starting primary school. Approximately 63,000 or 94% of eligible children enrolled in pre-school services in the first year of the ECCE scheme. From September 2016, every child in Ireland will be able to start pre-school at age three and remain in pre-school until they start primary school.

There has been a steady growth in the number employed in pre-school services, and the sector is slowly becoming more organised. Regulation of Pre-school services has been taken over by the Health Boards, whilst Pre-school education policy is the remit of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Stricter guidelines are in place for those wishing to provide pre-school education facilities. Although particular qualifications have not in the past been essential for working with pre-school children, it is becoming more the norm to have a recognised qualification. Employers generally look for a minimum of QQI Level 5 or equivalent, relevant to the specific job role and responsibilities. 

From September 2015*, childcare staff at registered services participating in the ECCE scheme must meet the minimum qualification requirements: Pre-school leaders must hold a Level 6 qualification; Pre-school assistants must hold a Level 5 qualification.

*Existing services participating in the ECCE Programme prior to 2015 have been provided with a 12 month postponement until 2016 for this requirement, subject to evidence that relevant staff are enrolled and engaged in training.
Featured Content


Electrical Engineering header image

Electrical engineers deal with large-scale electrical systems such as power transmission and motor control. They create and design products using scientific principles, combined with natural curiosity, problem solving and innovation.

An electrical engineer can be employed in the design and construction of power lines, in the control and management of power stations, or in the design and installation of electrical systems and machinery, such as transformers, electric motors and power electronics. 

Electrical engineers will play an important role in the future development of a sustainable environment. There are a wide range of challenging paths available to an Engineer, Technologist or Technician. Career opportunities include:
  • Industrial research and development labs
  • Energy supply corporations
  • Software and services companies
  • Civil service
  • Technical monitoring agencies
  • Research institutes and educational institutions

Electrical Engineering graduates are found in such fields as computer engineering, energy engineering, transport engineering, communications engineering and media.

Featured Content


Drama & Theatre header image

Ireland has a thriving drama and theatre world. It has achieved major honours, producing four winners of the Nobel Prize (GB Shaw, WB Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney), in the 20th Century alone. A recent survey of the Arts in Europe found that over one third of all the plays being performed in London were by Irish playwrights, and new works by modern playwrights such as Marina Carr, Martin McDonagh, Brian Friel or Conor McPherson are as likely to be premiered in New York or London, as they are in Dublin! 

Video: Getting into Theatre … A career in the Performing Arts

What do you need to know about getting a career in the performing arts? Ten people, with careers spanning across the industry, talk about how they got into theatre and how you can too.

There are more professional theatre companies and dramatists in this country today than ever before. Drama and theatre are also becoming important elements in our educational system while broadcasting, film and television also offer new career opportunities to Irish graduates.

As well as actor or playwright, careers in this area include Stage manager, Casting director, Artistic director, Choreographer, Technical designer, Set designer, Costume designer; Make-up artist; Lighting technician; Stage manager; Pyrotechnician; Theatre critic; Theatre manager, or Drama coach.

There are are a wide range of related courses available from acting to theatre performance. Explore the Education and Training menu on this page.

Featured Content


Fashion header image

Some 4 million people are employed in the fashion industry worldwide which includes far more than glossy magazines and fashion shows: careers in fashion design, sourcing materials, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, retailing, advertising, communications, publishing and consulting - are just some of what this industry sector is all about.

The wide range of products included in the fashion sector – clothes, bags, jewellery, shoes, cosmetics, hair accessories - means that somebody interested in working in this area could be employed anywhere from a high street fashion store selling leading brands, or a small boutique selling their own niche designs, to posing on the catwalk or working on the glossy pages of a style magazine.