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

Deirdre Lavelle

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St. Michael's House

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Changing Career - Your Options in Science

Judith Moffett from CPL Science explains the options if you want to move from a non-science job into the science sector, or are thinking of moving from one science area into another.

The science industry is still one of the most thriving and resilient sectors in Ireland. It encompasses a broad range of areas including the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, clinical trials, environmental, food and agricultural industries.

Careers in science are very diverse and are certainly not limited to the traditional concept of a laboratory-based role.
Some other areas to consider include microelectronics, the semiconductor industry and the emerging energy sector of renewable energy (wind, ocean, solar).

Moving from a non-science job

If you are thinking of moving into the science sector from a non-science job, the job opportunities in science which require a science or engineering qualification include, but are not limited to:

  • Quality assurance
  • Quality control
  • Microbiology
  • R&D
  • Engineering
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Clinical operations
  • Environmental health and safety

Most positions require third-level education in science, engineering or related fields. A minimum qualification is a certificate, but companies require a degree level qualification for certain roles. Some research positions require an MSc or PhD, but this is not always the case.

If you are working, check the part-time study options. Many courses have a part-time equivalent to their full-time versions.
Some organisations do offer positions such as junior production level roles without a qualification. This can give an opportunity for entry-level candidates to pursue a degree course at night. If you are not working, try and find a course that offers a work placement in industry as part of the course.

Practical experience is invaluable. Failing this try and arrange some work experience yourself.

Some areas overlap between the non-science and science sectors, including administration, finance, HR, supply chain and logistics and IT. However, while it may be possible to change industry in these areas, it is a significant advantage to have previous science industry experience.

Moving within the science sector

People frequently change areas within the science sector. A common move is to go from research in a lab environment to a more administrative project management role or vice versa.
Bear in mind that not all laboratory-based roles include bench testing – and scientists don’t just work in industry.
Research positions in third-level colleges permit scientists to pursue a rewarding and challenging career. Science Foundation Ireland CSETs (Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology) and universities’ Centres of Excellence can provide great research opportunities.

Technology innovation centres such as DIT Hothouse and others in third-level colleges also provide opportunities to commercialise inventions and ideas and set up campus companies.

If you are considering moving into another area within the science industry, bear in mind that:

- This new career direction may require further education, so look into the courses that will assist that transition
- You may also need practical experience within the new area before making the full move.

Talk to colleagues currently working in the area and get their advice. Where possible, volunteer to assist on projects, which will add valuable relevant experience onto your CV.


If you would like to discuss science career options in more detail, contact CPL Science via www.cplscience.ie or call 01 614 6000.


Article by: SmartFutures.ie