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 Elaine MacDonald from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

Elaine MacDonald

Psychologist - Clinical

St. Michael's House

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Elaine MacDonald

Make sure you are willing to go the full distance in terms of the time needed to train as a Clinical Psychologist – it’s typically at least six years academic study, and invariably this period is interspersed with work in a relevant field.

Do be as confident as you can that you’re happy being a “listener” and “observer”, as you will spend significant amounts of time in your work life as a Clinical Psychologist being in this role, as well as being in the “do-er” role and being in the limelight.

To have a good ‘fit’ with this career you’ll need to be happy working with people – as individuals on a one to one basis, with groups (e.g. families), and as part of a team in the workplace.

You need to have a good attention to detail as the job needs good observation skills, record keeping, and organisation skills.

Be prepared for learning and self-development to be on-going for the whole of your career because, as a Clinical Psychologist, you’ll be learning and using techniques and intervention approaches that are being constantly developed, and be working in accordance with policies and laws that are also constantly evolving.

The last piece of advice I’d give to someone considering this job is to be as sure as you can that you feel comfortable and even excited at the prospect of your career revolving around people and groups with all the varied, diverse, and unpredictable rewards and challenges that this brings!

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Adult Learner

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Up-Skilling Courses +


A number of government upskilling programmes have been developed which aim to encourage individuals to continue their learning and increase their skills level. Many of these programmes include financial supports.

If you are unemployed, or want to further your education, there is likely to be a support programme that will help you financially, while doing a course you may be interested in.

Most upskilling courses are designed to assist unemployed people to improve their skills and increase their chances of getting employment. Detailed information on current Employment Programmes can be found in our Job Seekers area

For information on Employment Programmes click here

Did you know ...

The Springboard+ government initiative offers a choice of over 200 free, part-time and intensive conversion courses in higher education from certificate, to degree, to post-graduate level. See search courses for full details. Applications can also be made for one-year full-time and two-year part-time ICT Skills Conversion courses.

Since 2017, SpringBoard courses are now open to the following categories of applicant:

  • Homemakers (all courses are open to Homemakers)
  • People in employment
    • who wish to take a course in the manufacturing sector (e.g. Bio-pharma or medical devices technology) or
    • who wish to take an ICT Conversion course or
    • who already hold a Level 7 (Ordinary Degree) IT qualification who wish to upskill to a Level 8 IT qualification
  • The unemployed or formerly self-employed (all courses are open to these category of applicants, with the exception of the two year part-time ICT conversion courses which are not open to those in receipt of a Jobseekers-related payment)

All courses lead to qualifications in enterprise sectors which are growing and need skilled personnel, including information and communications technology (ICT); manufacturing; international financial services; and key skills for enterprise to trade internationally. Qualifications are also available in cross-enterprise skills such as innovation, enterprise/entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and project management.

MOOCs - Massive Online  Open Courses

MOOCs are free courses that are available to anyone. They don't give you a recognised qualification, but they do provide an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge of a subject, or if you simply want to upskill. Some MOOCs are designed by the top universities around the world. Here in Ireland, MOOCs are offered by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin. All you need to participate is internet access. A searchable database of MOOCs is available here.

Need advice on what to do?

With so many possible courses, and a variety of different financial supports available, many people choose to discuss their options with a local careers advisor. Government based services provide free consultations and are available nationwide.

Click here to go to Adult Guidance Services