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!


The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Insurance Practitioner
In Summary header image

Insurance Practitioner

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is an ‘earn and learn’ degree programme that combines on-the-job training with academic study.

There are plenty of reasons to undertake this apprenticeship. Developed by The Insurance Institute and representatives from across the industry, this three-year programme is validated under the QQI process and leads to a BA (Hons) in Insurance Practice from IT Sligo – a qualification future employers will crave.

You’ll learn the skills, knowledge and behaviours necessary for a successful career in insurance and beyond. You’ll also earn a salary as you study – so what are you waiting for? Register your interest here.

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Article: What does an Insurance Apprentice do? 

Video: Insurance Practitioner Apprentice

The Insurance Practitioner is an NFQ Level 8 apprenticeship with approximately 100 places available annually.

Training header image

The structure of the 3-year Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is as follows:

: BA (Hons) Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship – Level 8 NFQ 

Training Provider: IT Sligo/The Insurance Institute 

Outline: Apprentices undertake insurance qualifications, delivered by The Insurance Institute, as well as business and accounting modules from IT Sligo.

Off/On the Job Phases: The structure of the off-the-job programme involves six 15-week semesters, each consisting of three modules. This is combined with on-the-job learning delivered through full-time employment with an insurance company. 

Off-the-job learning delivery will be a blend of online lectures, online discussion/engagement and face to face teaching with provision for group sessions per semester. Typically this will result in one day a week study-release for the apprentice, in the employer’s premises, away from the desk.

As semesters are 15 weeks apiece, the apprentice will have fewer study hours during the summer period and will have more to time to learn practically on-the-job.

Provider: Zurich / The Insurance Institute

Personal Qualities header image

  • Personable and sociable
  • Professional style
  • Competitive
  • Socially confident
  • Self-motivated with desire to perform at a high level
  • Customer service oriented
  • High standards of ethics and integrity
  • Ambitious and results orientated
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work in a fast paced environment.

Work Activities header image

  • You’ll specialise in one of the core industry areas – underwriting, claims or direct client advice.
  • You’ll learn about the business by completing projects and case studies.
  • You’ll study through a blend of online lectures, discussions and face-to-face group sessions – all during working hours.
  • A mentor and supervisor will help you along the way.
  • You’ll earn a salary and your academic training is government funded*.

Pay & Fees header image

*Employers set salaries that are commensurate with the industry rate for the job. A reduced annual apprentice registration fee applies.

Entry Requirements header image

Each apprentice will be employed directly by an insurance company, and will therefore be required to meet the particular employer’s specific recruitment criteria.

Certain additional requirements must also be met for admission to the proposed apprenticeship programme:

Irish Leaving Certificate Requirements - Honours Degree/Level 8

Prior to 2017

  • A minimum of 4 grade Ds at Ordinary Level and 2 Grade C3 at Higher Level.
  • Leaving Certificate subjects must include Mathematics and English or Irish.
  • An E grade in Higher Level Mathematics, and a B2 in Foundation Mathematics is a minimum entry requirement.
  • A minimum of 140 points is required for entry to all Level 8 courses.
2017 onwards
  • A minimum of 4 grades 4o6/H7 and 2 grade H5 or higher Leaving Certificate subjects.
  • Leaving Certificate subjects must include Mathematics and English or Irish.
  • With English or Irish with O6/H7 and Mathematics with F2/o6/H7.
  • A minimum of 140 points is required for entry to all Level 8 courses.
Fetac Awards and Entry
  • The minimum entry requirements for graduates of FETAC (Level 5 or 6) awards to an Honours Degree Course (NFQ Level 8) is a full cognate FETAC (Level 5 or 6) award to include distinction grades in at least three components.
  • For entry to the majority of courses a full award may be accumulated over more than one academic year. In such cases it is the responsibility of the applicant to apply to FETAC for a full award. However, for entry to certain courses an award achieved in a single sitting may be required.
  • All FETAC awards are part of the Common Awards System, or CAS, from 2014. A full FETAC Level 5 or 6 major award will have a minimum credit value of 120. Component awards, or achievement of less than 120 credits, do not constitute a full award.
  • Some applicants will combine components achieved prior to the introduction of CAS with others which are part of CAS. Level 5 and 6 (NCVA) Certificates, i.e. major awards, achieved before the introduction of CAS are also scored according to the system outlined above.
  • All FETAC Level 5 and Level 6 awards will be scored using the best 120 credits to deliver a maximum of 400 points regardless of whether they were achieved before or after the introduction of CAS.
Mature Students
  • Mature applicants (defined as those who are over 23 on 1 January of the year of entry) do not require the above minimum entry requirements and acceptance will be based on experiential learning, commitment to course objectives and an interview.

Full details of entry requirements from can be found here.

Getting an Apprenticeship header image

Recruitment to the Programme

As apprentices will be employed by their sponsoring company, the employer/industry will recruit the apprentices. The company may use a variety of additional tools to assist in the recruitment process. 

Employers will be required to ensure that their organisation meets the criteria to take on an apprentice and be registered as an approved employer of apprentices. Once approved, employers will be able to recruit apprentices through their regular recruitment process, provided the apprentice meets the stated entry requirements. 

Once an apprentice is successfully recruited, off-the-job training registration will be completed through IT Sligo.

Be first to hear about the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship - Register here with the Insurance Institute for updates.

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