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 Mary Dineen from Irish Tax Institute to give some advice for people considering this job:


Mary Dineen

Tax Trainee

Irish Tax Institute

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  Mary Dineen
An essential prerequisite to a career in tax is obtaining the AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification. Due to the varied and hands on nature of the work in Taxand Ireland’s office, I have found working in tax very beneficial when preparing for the AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) exams and conversely, I have found the knowledge I have acquired as part of the AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) course has assisted me massively in my day to day work with Taxand Ireland (William Fry).

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.
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At a Glance... header image


Most careers in the education sector involve some form of teaching. Research suggests that the vast majority of students who opt for teaching do so because of the opportunity it offers to work in a creative and challenging environment with young people. 

Teachers careers span a wide range of educational settings: preschool settings such as Montessori schools; junior infants and more senior classes in primary school; in post-primary or second level schools; with a group of adults on a ‘second chance’ education programme, or in further education colleges, universities and institutes of technology. Teaching even takes place in the business world in the form of corporate training. In all cases, the teacher interacts with his or her learning group, daily or otherwise.

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 2016, every child in Ireland was able to start pre-school at age three and remain in pre-school until they start primary school.

Working in pre 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 services is the responsibility of the HSE, 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. 

Since 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.

Search for relevant courses here 

*Existing services participating in the ECCE Programme prior to 2015 were provided with a 12 month postponement until 2016 for this requirement, subject to evidence that relevant staff are enrolled and engaged in training.
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Primary School header image

There are over 3,300 publicly funded primary schools in Ireland, including 140 schools for children with special educational needs, multi-denominational schools (in the Educate Together network), and Gaelscoileanna (schools where all teaching is carried out through Irish).

Both Primary and Secondary school teachers, including Special Educational Needs (SEN) teachers, must have a recognised teaching qualification and must also be registered with The Teaching Council.

Primary School Teacher training is a 4-year concurrent (undergraduate) Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree. As part of a national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy skills, recent changes introduced by The Teaching Council increased the length of teacher training from three years, to four years. 

The alternative route to becoming a primary school teacher for people coming from other degree disciplines, is to do a post-graduate programme. The Professional Master of Education (PME - Primary Teaching) is a two-year, full-time Level 9 postgraduate professional teacher education programme designed to qualify graduates as primary teachers. Applicants must have a minimum Level 8 degree in any discipline.

Four colleges of education offer the PME. Leaving Cert students considering this route typically opt to take an Arts degree. Arts is normally three years, making it shorter than some other degree programmes. It also allow students to study subjects relevant to both the primary and secondary school curriculum. An advantage of this route is that students who do not achieve the required grade at Leaving Cert can meet the Irish requirement for primary teaching by passing Irish in the first year of their Arts degree. Students can also improve their chances of being accepted to the PME by by maintaining and improving their level of Irish throughout their degree.

In case you change your mind about primary teaching, opting for a degree in an area that you would be happy with as an alternative career area is always a good idea.

Guidelines on how to become a teacher, and more detailed information on the education sector in Ireland are given in the 'Ask the Expert' area on this page. See also The Teaching Council

Primary School Principals must be qualified teachers and, in general, have at least five years of teaching experience (except in primary schools of fewer than 80 pupils). There is no formal requirement for leadership training, but many applicants have related diplomas (e.g. management, administration, education) and many complete non-accredited courses for school leaders.

The Department of Education and Skills (DES) steers the education system in Ireland and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is responsible for early childhood issues. Several other bodies have responsibility for different aspects of education policy in Ireland:

  • National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) - advises on curricular objectives
  • Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) - standards, skills or competencies acquired by learners
  • Department of Education Inspectorate - evaluates the quality of schooling
  • Teaching Council - focuses on training, qualifications, professional development and standards
  • Education and Training Boards (ETBs) - manage vocational education at a regional level
  • Higher Education Authority (HEA) - funding and advisory body in relation to third level sector


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Post Primary header image

Secondary school or post-primary teachers have the opportunity to specialise in an area that interests them, (e.g. History, Geography, English, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Physical Education (PE), Maths etc.) and to pass this knowledge on to students. This can be a challenging but important role and it requires a special type of dedication. 

Secondary Teachers must hold a degree level qualification and have completed a teacher training qualification, together with certain requirements specific to their subject area. These are outlined in detail for individual subject areas, by the Teaching Council. [See 'Curricular Subject Requirements for Post Primary Teachers' in our online resources area on this page]

As with primary teaching, there are two routes to becoming a second level teacher: Concurrent or Consecutive. With a concurrent degree programme, the teacher training element is built into the programme - a wide range of programmes are concurrent, typically those with practical, laboratory and workshop elements. Most of these are of four years’ duration, although some are offered at Masters level over five years. 

The consecutive route is where you complete an undergraduate degree in your area of choice, followed by a Professional Masters in Education (PME). Entry requirements to the PME include a degree in at least one subject which meets the criteria for registration with The Teaching Council.

Note: From September 2014, changes introduced by The Teaching Council for the consecutive route to post-primary teaching mean that the Professional Masters in Education (PME), (formerly PDE), is now a 2-year training programme.

At secondary level, there are indications that some subject areas are short of specialist teachers (e.g. mathematics and the physical sciences). UCD introduced a new undergraduate route to becoming a post-primary teacher - for students interested in Maths and Science who would like to follow a career in teaching. There is now a five-year Teaching Council accredited degree leading to an MSc in Mathematics and Science Education available (See DN200).

  • Special Educational Needs / Resource Teaching - based in primary and post-primary schools, Resource Teachers provide intensive instruction in English and/or Maths to pupils who experience difficulties. To work in this area you must qualify for primary or secondary teaching in the normal way. A specialised qualification is desirable but not always essential. There has been a huge growth in special education in recent years as the Department of Education has recognised the need for early intervention with special help for some pupils. This has resulted in a large number of teachers working in special education and the employment of Resource Assistants. The largest increase in employment over the last 5 years across all occupations was for Educational Assistants. Two Montessori colleges are accredited to provide initial teacher education programmes for teachers in special needs schools and classes.
  • Guidance / Careers Counselling - Guidance counselling in Ireland is a dual role combining responsibilities for general behavioural counselling and careers advice. Guidance Counsellors can be found in most schools and colleges in the country. Their role is to advise young people as they make their career choices. Their job involves: Personal Counselling; Educational guidance and counselling; and Career guidance and counselling. Guidance counsellors are mainly employed in second level schools, but they also work with early school leavers, disadvantaged groups, in Local Employment Services (LES) and in SOLAS. Most have spent some time in mainstream teaching before undergoing further training, allowing them to specialise in career guidance counselling.

The starting salary for Primary and Secondary School teachers is currently set at 27,814 Euro. Although it compares well at starting level with other professions, some teachers complain about the lack of promotional prospects within the profession.

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Further Education header image

Further Education covers education and training which occurs after secondary school, (QQI Levels 4,5 & 6), but which is not part of the third level system

There are number of providers of Further Education and Training. A wide variety of schools, organisations and institutions, are also involved in the delivery of continuing education and training for young school leavers and adults. 

Much of this training is aimed at upskilling and reskilling people who are unemployed. Providing skills for work is a priority. Full-time programmes in Further Education include Post- Leaving Cetificate (PLC) Courses, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) and Youthreach.

A formal teaching qualification was not traditionally required for teaching in this area, however, [with effect from 1 April 2013], new entrants must have attained a Teaching Council approved further education Initial Teacher Education (ITE) qualification, plus a primary degree. Full details are available here.

There are ten courses accredited by the Teaching Council aimed at teachers within the FET sector. A list of providers of ITE for the sector is available here.
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Higher Education / 3rd Level header image

Third Level Lecturing and Teaching

The number of people attending Irish Universities and Colleges has greatly increased in the last ten years. Alongside this, there has been a substantial increase in the number of students attending Institute of Technology Colleges. This has meant a big increase in staff to support that growth.

Lecturing or teaching at third level is quite different from primary and secondary school teaching. A specific teaching qualification is not required to work in a third level college or university. The most typical route into teaching in this sector is giving part-time grinds or tutorials to younger college students while working for a post graduate qualification such as a Masters or a PhD Degree. 

Progressing to full time employment in third level colleges generally requires a PhD Degree and having a number of research papers published. Over the past decade, teacher development programmes for lecturers and teachers in the higher education sector have become more widely available. All seven universities and some institutes of technology have set up centres or units for teaching and learning in higher education most of which now provide certificate programmes. See:

  • CELT at NUI Galway; 
  • Ionad Bairre in UCC;
  • The Centre for Teaching and Learning in UCD;
  • The Centre for Academic Practice and SL (CAPSL) in TCD and
  • T&L Centres in UCD, UL, DCU, DIT and WIT.
A number of higher education institutions also provide programmes for teachers and facilitators in adult and continuing education settings.

Institutes of Technology

Like the universities, a teaching qualification is not essential for teachers in the IOTs. Teachers in this sector, by and large have good third level qualifications, combined with strong experience from the world of industry or commerce. This combination has been an important factor in obtaining employment in the IOT colleges. 

Much of the work now available for Third-Level Teachers and Lecturers is part-time or involves short term contracts of employment.
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Adult & Community Education header image

Adult and Community education involves working with adults of all ages. Educators in this area are involved in providing 'Adult Basic Education' (QQI Levels 1-3), which focuses on improving adult literacy by upgrading reading, writing, spelling, maths, and computer skills. 

Generally adult education tutors are secondary school teachers, employed by SOLAS and the Education & Training Boards (ETBs). A qualification in adult education is advisable for teaching adults.

A number of higher education institutions provide programmes for teachers and facilitators in adult and continuing education settings. UCD, Maynooth, UCC etc. offer certificates, diplomas in adult education, community development. 

[See also AONTAS for more details]

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Corporate Training header image

Although not strictly teaching, there are many people employed in the area of training in the world of business. This is usually undertaken by people with particular expertise in their subject area, sometimes requiring accreditation, but sometimes it is the person's business or technical experience that is important.

People interested in this area should make contact with training providers and explore possibilities with them.

[See also for more details]

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2nd Floor, 83-87 Main Street, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
(01) 406 8220
Thomas McDonagh House, Winetavern Street, Dublin 8
(01) 604 0160
Marlborough St., Dublin 1
(01) 889 6400
Archbishop's House, Drumcondra, Dublin 9
(01) 857 4198
Hainault House, Tallaght, Dublin, D24 RFVO
(01) 405 7100
Piper's Hill, Kilcullen Road, Naas, Co. Kildare
(01) 459 1070
The Basement, 17 Herbert St., Dublin, 2.
(01) 676 1975
c/o School of Physics, UCD Belfield, Dublin, 4.
(01) 716 2216
35, Parnell Square, Dublin, 1.
(01) 804 7700
563, South Circular Rd., Dublin, 8.
(01) 492 3326
Mount Saint Mary's Campus, Dundrum Road, Milltown, Dublin 14
(01) 269 2499
41-43 North Great George's St, Dublin 1
(01) 878 0071
1st Floor, 42/43 Prussia Street, Dublin 7
(01) 869 0715
100 Thomas Street, Dublin 8
(01) 636 4200
35, Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, 2.
(01) 661 7177
Trim, Co. Meath
(046) 948 6400
Portobello Institute, 43 Lower Dominick St, Dublin 1
(01) 892 0000
Chapter House, 26/30 Abbey St. Upr, Dublin 1
(01) 858 7400
16 Adelaide Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.
(01) 280 6064
73 Orwell Road Rathgar Ireland Dublin 6
(01) 492 2588
8/10 Rock Hill, Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin
(01) 488 4300
36-38, Westland Row, Dublin, 2.
(01) 676 4412
Block A, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare
(01) 651 7900

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