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 Caitriona Jackman from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

Caitriona Jackman

Planetary Scientist

Smart Futures

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Caitriona Jackman
If you are considering full-time scientific research, try to get a work placement in a university department so you can see first hand what it’s like. It’s a relatively relaxed, flexible environment, but there is a certain degree of self-motivation needed. 

So I would say you need to be able to push  yourself and be proactive in terms of setting up collaborations with other scientists etc.

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IFS Specialist
In Summary header image

IFS Specialist

This new apprenticeship programme has reached development stage as of May 2017.

Proposer /Provider: Financial Services Ireland (FSI) with coordinating provider National College of Ireland (NCI)

This apprenticeship programme is not yet fully approved. Additional information is constantly being added here, as it becomes available. Outline information correct - May 2017.

The IFS Apprenticeship programme is designed for candidates who are eager to launch their career within the financial services industry.

The IFS Specialist apprenticeship is aimed at those who have work experience and relevant educational qualifications. 

Entrants will study a Higher Diploma in Data Analytics or Fintech whilst earning a salary of €35K, with a two year fixed term contract in an IFS organisation in a relevant role.

This is a 2-year NFQ Level 8 apprenticeship with 80 places to potentially be available annually.

Video: International Financial Services Apprenticeships at NCI

Training header image


The IFS apprenticeships are 2-years in duration. The apprentices spend 60% of their time working in IFS companies and the remainder gaining specific IFS qualifications

IFS Specialist Apprentices will work four days per week in their company and study for the remaining one day per week in NCI over the two year period.


IFS Specialist Apprentices will graduate with a Higher Diploma in Data Analytics or Fintech at Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

On successful completion, the International Financial Services Specialist will have:
IFS Specialisms 
  • Data Analytics 
  • Fintech 
  • Regtech 

Personal Qualities header image

The IFS Specialist apprentice role is for:

  • Career changers
  • Those with prior career experience and transferable skills
  • Third level qualification already attained
  • Motivated by upskilling and by prospect of an IFS career
Given the target technical market for graduates of this programme, candidates will be required to demonstrate:
  • Technical problem-solving skills or
  • Mathematical problem-solving skills.
  • Logical and creative thinking skills
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work independently and to take responsibility
  • Can use own initiative
  • A thorough and organised approach
  • Ability to work with a range of internal and external people
  • Ability to communicate effectively in a variety of situations
  • Maintain productive, professional and secure working environment
  • Results Focus

Work Activities header image

IFS Specialist Apprentices will work four days per week in their company and study for the remaining one day per week in NCI over a two year period.

An IFS Specialist Apprentice will get you:

  • A two year fixed term contract in an International Financial Services (IFS) Organisation
  • A paid apprenticeship while you work and study
  • A recognised qualification in the National College of Ireland's state of the art campus in the IFSC
  • A Higher Diploma in Data Analytics or Fintech
  • A two year fixed term contract in an IFS organisation in a relevant role

Pay & Fees header image

A salary of €35,000 applies to the IFS Specialist Apprenticeship.

Entry Requirements header image

The following entry requirements apply to the IFS Specialist apprenticeship.

Minimum Academic Requirements

Applications to the Higher Diploma will be accepted from prospective students who have

  • An Honours Degree (level 8) qualification.
  • A level 8 degree or its equivalent in any discipline is eligible to apply for this programme.
Non-standard applications will be also considered on an individual basis.

Given the target technical market for graduates of this programme, candidates will be required to demonstrate technical or mathematical problem solving skills as part of previous programme learning.

Graduates from disciplines which do not have technical or mathematical problem solving skills embedded in their programme will need to be able to demonstrate technical or mathematical problem solving skills in addition to their level 8 programme qualifications (Certifications, Additional Qualifications, Certified Experience and Assessment Tests).

Holders of technical, numerate degrees are likely to gain a higher ranking in any order of merit for admission. Typically these would be applicants who have:
I. Gained a minimum of a Level 8 qualification in a numerate discipline. Typical disciplines which would fall into this category would be
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Economics
II. Gained a minimum of a Level 8 qualification in a programme with a significant IT component and/or significant numerate element. Such programmes vary greatly in mathematical and information technology content and assessment would be by detailed examination of subject content, assessments and syllabi.

Typical programmes which would fall into this category could include
  • Management Information Systems
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Management 
English language Proficiency

Applicants whose first language is not English must attach a certified qualification of proficiency in English. The following qualifications will fulfil the College's minimum requirements for undergraduate programmes:

Irish Leaving Certificate: Ordinary Grade C
IELTS: 6.5
TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT): 600 
TOEFL Computer-based Test (CBT): 220
TOEFL (IBT): 100
ETAPP (English test for Academic and Professional Purposes): C1
TELL - Test of English Language Level – National College of Ireland

Getting an Apprenticeship header image

How to apply

Applications will be reviewed based on relevant academic qualifications. Successful applicants will be invited to a pre-selection event to be interviewed by a selection panel. Successful applicants from the pre-selection event will then meet with recruiting companies. 

What then?

When successful candidates are recruited by financial services organisations, the relevant recruitment process will commence in the organisation.

The closing date for the latest intake of  IFS Specialist Apprentices is Sunday 2dn June 2017 - click here.

For further details click here.

See also 

Participating companies include:

Career Opportunities header image

Typical Job roles

  • Data Analyst
  • Data Manager
  • Data Scientist
  • Data Modeller
  • Data Architect
  • Data Engineer
The global trends that are shaping the IFS industry, including the disruptive changes being driven by ICT; Big Data; increased emphasis on risk, compliance and security; new business models, products and services; and the intensified global competition for FDI and for talent require quality graduates, ongoing skills development, capacity for innovation and problem solving, and talent attraction. 

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Occupation Data

Data Scientist

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