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Career Research

Career - Which Direction?

As the world of work is constantly changing it is difficult to know what or career paths are available. It is important to research any career you think you may be interested in, but equally you should research broadly, because you never know what occupation may interest you once you learn more about it.

To get you started, in the career sectors we break the world of work into around 30 career areas. Each page provides an overview of the sector, along with multiple resources from which to extend your research.

Parents often express concern over their children studying or pursuing a career in an area that may have few employment opportunities. While young people should pursue their interests and passions, an awareness of what sectors of our economy are growing and shrinking remains important. Such information is collected annually in Ireland by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. (see Labour Market Trends)

Our Career Explorer allows you to research particular occupations and how to prepare for them. It provides information on nearly 1000 occupations, where you can find information on the work involved, relevant courses, salaries and statistics relating to the occupation.

To get a personal perspective on an we encourage you to explore the 200+ Career Interviews (including video interviews) with people from all over Ireland talking about their workplace and career. These unique interviews contain the stories and experiences of ordinary workers and provide insight into their working day, information on how they got the job and why they chose it.

Choosing a Career Direction

Most people will move through different job roles during their career. We may work as a shopkeeper, then as clerk in an office, before moving on to work as an engineer and then a manager. Reading the stories from those interviewed on this site will give you a flavour of the diversity of roles individuals play out in their career.

When choosing a career direction, start with the bigger picture (e.g. Business / Medicine / Childcare) and work your way towards the job roles that appeal to you most at the time (e.g. Accountant / Doctor / Crèche Assistant). If you have no particular job roles in mind, work on building up knowledge and skills in an area you like, you will spot suitable opportunities as your research

  • Start your research by exploring the opportunities provided in career sectors that you are interested in.
  • Familiarise yourself with the general information for the sector first.
  • Then look at the typical occupations in the sector and explore the detailed information provided.

Occupations

If you know what occupations / job roles you are looking for, you may be able to find information in our Career Explorer.

  • Aside from well-known occupations, many exist that you will not know much about, and that may prove to be a good match to your interests.
  • When researching occupations, always consider how well the role fits your aspirations, personality, natural talents etc.
  • Where possible watch the videos from the links provided – they often portray the jobs better than written descriptions.

Experience Level

The Career Explorer uses the idea of a Job Zone to note the difference in education or experience level typically needed for the role. If a job is in Zone 1 (lowest), it requires a basic education (Junior Cert / Leaving Cert) and little previous experience. It is expected that you would be reasonably competent with just a little training, which would be done on the job. In contrast, Job Zone 5 (highest), you would typically need Post Graduate training or greater, or extensive first-hand experience. Use the Job Zone filter to arrange your results according to experience level if preferred.

Employers

When considering a particular career direction, it is wise to be aware of the types of employers that you will work for and the conditions they offer. Being employed by the right company for you can open new possibilities for progression and change, as well as new positions of responsibility.

As part of your career research we recommend you research the companies that employ people in the roles you are interested in. Knowing the employment profile of an organisation, the key attractions they offer, the other job roles you would be working alongside, the projects they work on, the remuneration package etc. all significantly affect the enjoyment of the position.

Many employers are committed to making their workplaces and businesses inclusive environments, where everybody is treated with dignity and respect and policies are in place regarding issues such as equality, human rights, dignity at work, and fair recruitment.

Career Interviews

Some of the best information you will get about different occupations is from people who are currently in those job roles. Wherever possible you should talk to individuals who are working in an area you aspire to work in.

Ask your friends, relatives, neighbours and anyone else you can think of if they know anyone working in your area of interest. Arrange to meet them or have a phone conversation with them. Ask them the questions you want answered – most people are happy to talk about their work.

We have hundreds of interviews covering a diverse range of occupations on this site which could be your starting point. All the videos and interview material is directly from real people working in Ireland. We also link to numerous interviews with people from around the world, as so many occupations are global positions and are much the same throughout the world.

Labour Market Trends

When researching careers, it might also be worth considering how the Labour Market changes over time.

Labour Market information provides statistical information on growth trend across most sectors of the economy, and easily identify career sectors that have a growing number of employment opportunities. They also identify any ‘Jobs in Demand’ – current job positions that are constantly advertised but recruitment falls below demand for workers. 

Career Investigation

Investigating a career that you are interested in is a great way to find out more about what day to day life in the job is all about. This can be a real eye opener and alert you to things you had never considered before. 

Some important information you'll need to pay attention to:

  • What's the career like? 
  • What would a typical day be? 
  • What qualifications will I need?
  • What qualities and skills are needed? 
  • Would this career suit me in terms of my interests, aptitudes etc?

Where to Start 

To find out more about what the career is like and the skills and qualities required, you can use our handy Career Explorer Tool. You will find a good description of what the job is about and what the typical tasks and activities are. 

For LCVP you will need to find two alternative pathways to the career, and some specific details on each. For most careers, you will also find this information in the Career Explorer, You will need the location of course / entry requirements / length of course & qualification achieved. You can search this detail for the relevant courses in the CourseFinder

Interaction - Work Experience 

Reading from books or databases can be informative, but there is nothing to compare with direct experience. Both the LCVP and LCA Career Investigations require you to undertake a work experience module and in some cases a career interview. 

In this section, you should provide direct evidence, picked up from whatever experience you gained i.e, work shadowing, visit to an enterprise, interview with a person in the career area, college open day or careers exhibition related to the career.

Search work placements in our WorkXperience Hub here. 

Evaluation based on knowing yourself

Whereas you may know whether you like the career or not, for the purpose of the Career Investigation report, you will be required to provide some reasons for your view. Having described the career in the first sections of the investigation, you now must observe something about yourself, and discuss whether you and the career are a good match. Typically students discuss this in terms of their aptitudes, career interests or personality, their school subject choices and so on.

We would encourage you to take the CareersPortal Interest Profiler and use the information from this to discuss how suitable the career might be for you. 

You might decide that the career you investigated is exciting and you can't wait to pursue it, or you may find it wasn't what you had expected and isn't for you after all! Be sure to elaborate on the positive and negative insights you have gained from the experience of undertaking the career investigation.

Take our free online career self-assessments when you Join CareersPortal.

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