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Qualifications Required

Qualifications Required

What qualifications are required?

Early Years Educator

Early Years Educators provide education for children from the age of three until their transfer to primary school. They require a minimum QQI Level 5 qualification in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) while Room Leaders require a minimum Level 6 on the NFQ. 

Colleges of Further Education providing courses nationwide in ECCE can be found here

A Level 7/8 degree in Early Childhood Studies / Education may also be required by some services offering the free ECCE pre-school year. Explore our CourseFinder here.  

Montessori Teaching 

Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. To work as a Montessori Teacher, an undergraduate Montessori Qualification is required, which has been taken over a minimum period of three years of full time study (or equivalent) at a minimum of Level 8 on the NFQ, and carrying at least 180 ECTS. 

A list of course providers can be found here

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

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

Primary School Teaching

Studying to become a teacher is known as initial teacher education (ITE). You can study to be a teacher either by doing an undergraduate degree or a two-year postgraduate Professional Master of Education (PME).

There are minimum requirements in mathematics, English and Irish at Leaving Certificate. A full breakdown of the requirements can be found here.

Changes to the minimum entry requirements for the Professional Master of Education (PME) for primary teaching will come in to place in September 2020. This deferral will apply to students who have commenced an undergraduate degree (as distinct from a Bachelor of Education degree) and are planning to apply for the Professional Masters of Education (PME) for entry in September 2019. Full details here

Undergraduate - B.Ed. Programme

A full-time course leading to a Bachelor of Education degree is held in each of the state funded Colleges of Education for primary teachers. Explore CourseFinder here. Persons who successfully complete the course may then be registered with the Teaching Council.

Online Primary Teacher education

An online Post Graduate Masters in Education, accredited by QQI is provided by Hibernia College. Hibernia College is a privately-owned, non-state-funded, company. This blended learning course takes place over 2 years and is recognised by the Teaching Council for the purposes of primary teaching.

Entry Requirements for Primary Teaching

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

Entry Requirement CAO

Entry Requirement Post Grad [pdf]

Entry Requirements Mature Students [pdf]

Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge  (TEG) provides a series of general Irish language proficiency examinations and qualifications for learners of Irish. Level B2 (Meánleibhéal 2) can be accepted in place of the required Leaving Cert Irish grade. 

Post Primary Teaching 

Post-primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) is also provided on an undergraduate/concurrent or postgraduate /consecutive basis. 

The more common route to qualification is the consecutive route, where an undergraduate degree in a particular subject area is completed, followed by a teacher education qualification.

Suitable degrees must be from a state-recognised university or similar third-level college and the content or modules in the programme must enable the holder to teach at least one curricular subject to the highest level within the post-primary school's curriculum. For most subjects, this means to Leaving Certificate Higher Level.

Note: The Teaching Council specifies the number of credits required in particular areas for some disciplines so speak to the course co-ordinator to ensure you select the correct modules. 

Suitable ITE qualifications must incorporate three specific elements:

  • Foundation Studies
  • Professional Studies and
  • School Placement directed towards the 12 to 18 age range (first year to sixth year).

Applications for undergraduate ITE courses can be made through the Central Applications Office - CAO.

A full list of accredited ITE programmes can be found here.

Note: Postgraduate programmes of ITE accredited by the Teaching Council are two years full-time study or 120 ECTS credits.

Online Post Primary Teacher education

An online Post Graduate Masters in Education, accredited by QQI is provided by Hibernia College. Hibernia College is a privately-owned, non-state-funded, company. This blended learning course takes place over 2 years and is recognised by the Teaching Council for the purposes of post primary teaching.

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

It also provides a list of degrees which have in the past been deemed to meet the requirements for named curricular subjects. Because degree programmes and the elective modules within them can change over time, this list should only be considered as a guide.

The following institutions in Ireland currently provide Post Primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes, more commonly called the Professional Master's in Education (PME):
University College Cork
Concurrent &
University College Dublin
Consecutive www.ucd.ie 
NUI Galway
Consecutive www.nuigalway.ie 
NUI Maynooth
Consecutive www.nuim.ie 
Trinity College Dublin
Concurrent &
DCU Institute of Education

Concurrent www.dcu.ie 
University of Limerick
Concurrent &
St. Angela's College, Sligo

Concurrent www.stangelas.com 
National College of Art & Design
(NCAD), Dublin
Concurrent &
Crawford School of Art & Design,
Consecutive www.cit.ie 
Limerick Institute of Technology,
School of Art & Design
Consecutive www.lit.ie 
St. Patrick's College,
Concurrent www.stpats.ie 
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology,
Concurrent www.gmit.ie 
Hibernia College

Consecutive www.hiberniacollege.net 


Garda Vetting

All teachers must also comply with current Garda Vetting requirements - see Teaching Council Garda Vetting requirements here.

Foundation Course for aspiring teachers from marginalised groups

Think about Teaching is a year long foundation course for aspiring teachers run in Maynooth University. The course aims to diversify the Irish classroom by fostering a culture among students from the most educationally disadvantaged groups to consider the teaching profession as a desirable and achievable career option. The preparation course will support students academically, personally and socially; providing a pathway to degree courses within the Maynooth University in both primary and secondary education.

Click here for more information. 

Registration and Recruitment Process for Teachers

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

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

Second Level Teacher Posts -  Voluntary Secondary Schools and Community and Comprehensive Schools: Teaching posts are advertised by the Boards of Management of individual schools and selection is by interview. In order to be entered onto the Register of Teachers on the basis of qualifications in post-primary teaching, applicants must comply with the requirements as set out in Regulation Four of The Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations:

Candidates must hold:

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

Vocational schools - Teaching posts are advertised by the Education and Training Board. Teachers are appointed as teachers of a specific subject and must have a qualification to Degree level in the relevant subject area. In the past, it was not essential for a graduate to have professional teacher training.

Irish language Qualification for Teaching

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

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

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

  • Hold a degree in Irish, with Irish as a subject in the final examination, from a recognised degree-awarding authority
  • Have passed the Oral Irish Examination for registration as a Secondary Teacher
  • Have passed the Oral Examination in the Certificate for Teaching Irish
  • Have passed the Oral Examination in the Vocational Certificate for Irish. 
For Primary School teaching: applicants to the programmes of Initial Teacher Education must meet the entry requirements in Irish i.e. a Grade H5 on a Leaving Certificate Higher Level or a recognised equivalent. 
Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) provides a series of general Irish language proficiency examinations and qualifications for learners of Irish. Level B2 (Meánleibhéal 2) can be accepted in place of the required Leaving Cert Irish grade. 
Note: Where an applicant for registration as a Primary teacher with the Teaching Council has completed a programme of teacher education outside Ireland, an Irish Language Requirement (ILR) condition normally applies to his/her registration. The applicant can either complete an Aptitude Test (SCG – An Scrúdú le hAghaidh Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge) or an Adaptation Period (OCG – Oiriúnú le hAghaidh Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge), which confirms the applicant's competence to teach the Irish language as well as a range of primary school curricular subjects through the medium of Irish. 

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

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

Further Education and Training

Further Education covers education and training which occurs after second level schooling but which is not part of the third level system. Qualifications required to work in this area include: 

A primary degree or equivalent (not less than level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) carrying at least 180 ECTS credits, AND a teacher education qualification approved by the Council for post-primary teaching (First Year to Sixth Year) or an accredited further education teacher education qualification,


An ordinary degree or equivalent (not less than level 7 on the NFQ) carrying at least 180 ECTS credits, PLUS

i) an appropriate additional qualification, or

ii) certified accreditation of prior learning based on a minimum of three years’ experience in a workplace or instructional setting which is relevant to the candidate’s qualifications such as may be recognised by The Teaching Council as suitable for the purpose of registration as a teacher under this regulation which meets such requirements as the Teaching Council may publish from time to time,


iii) a teacher education qualification approved by the Council for post-primary teaching (First Year to Sixth Year) or an accredited further education teacher education qualification.

Teacher training programmes specific to this sector can be found in the 'Entry Routes' section here

Higher Education 

Higher Education in Ireland is provided mainly by Universities and  Institutes of Technology. In general, the first appointment to an academic position at an Irish university usually is at the level of lecturer. Lecturers need a PhD degree and publications of high quality. 

The career structure is generally consistent across Irish universities:

  • Post-doctoral Researcher
  • Lecturer
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Associate Professor
  • Professor  

Members of staff are under the general direction of a Department Head or Professor.Posts in Colleges, Universities, Institutes of Technology or other public sector higher education institutions, are advertised and achieved by Open Competition.

What are the typical routes into this sector?

In general, teachers are recruited by the school board of management, or by the local Education and Training Board (ETB).

Teaching posts are usually advertised in the national and local press. Lists of schools may be obtained from:

  • Government Publications, 52 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.
  • Department of Education and Skills website at www.education.ie.

Approved websites for teaching vacancies and substitute panels:

Career Structure

At Primary level, a teacher will be required to teach all the subjects across the Primary Curriculum.  It is possible to start in a temporary capacity or as a substitute for another teacher who is on leave or to enter a permanent post directly.

Teachers can be promoted into Posts of Responsibility where they undertake duties delegated by the Principal Teacher in addition to their teaching activities.

The next level of progression is to Vice Principal or Principal. The Principal Teacher manages the day-to-day operations of the school.

Learning/language support and resource teachers are also employed in schools with a particular focus on providing additional support to children experiencing learning difficulties, pupils with special needs or children needing additional language assistance.

Second level schools are generally larger than Primary schools. Teachers usually provide classes in a particular subject area. Individuals can aspire to posts of Assistant Principal, Principal and Deputy Principal.

At second level, learning/language support teachers and resource teachers are also employed. There are also opportunities within second level schools for part time work for teachers in particular subject areas.

Teachers registered with the Teaching Council and working in a school where the post is full-time may apply through an open selection process for secondment to the various Support Teams which form part of the curriculum support services funded by the Department of Education and Skills which provide professional development for teachers, usually based in the network of 21 Education Centres. These teams work for a period designing and delivering training programmes to teachers around the country, for example when a syllabus is revised, or in a key area of policy, such as assessment, addressing disadvantage, catering for children with special needs etc.

Teachers may apply for career opportunities in the Inspectorate Section of the Department. The role of the Inspector is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning for children and young people in Irish schools, centres for education and other settings and to support the development of the Irish education system. It does this through providing high-quality evaluation, analysis and advice.

Professional development

All teachers are expected to engage in continuing professional development (CPD). This can be through in-service courses provided by the Department and through summer and local courses offered by the network of education centres, or through pursuit of formally certified higher education programmes.  In some cases, substitution may be granted and appropriate levels of expense are met. Teachers may also seek unpaid leave and longer term sabbaticals.

Information on pay scales can be obtained by accessing the relevant circulars at www.education.ie. Please see information section above for detail of entry routes and recruitment process. You can also visit www.teachingcouncil.ie.