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 Brian Howard from Department of Education and Skills to give some advice for people considering this job:

Brian Howard

Guidance Counsellor

Department of Education and Skills

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Brian Howard

This career involves working with people in a caring capacity. If you have no interest in helping people personally or educationally then this may be the wrong profession for you.

Empathy, patience and respect are important qualities for this job, in addition to be able to relate well to the person you are dealing with. As there is also a large amount of information to be handled in the job, good organisational, IT and time management skills are also quite important.

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Occupation Details

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Civil Service - Secretary General

Job Zone

Education
Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, you may need to complete three - four years of college and work for several years in the career area to be considered qualified.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Job Zone Examples
Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, computer programmers, chemists, environmental engineers, criminal investigators, and financial analysts.

€175k > 185
Civil Service - Secretary General
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€175 - 185
Related Information:
Data Source(s):
IPA

Last Updated: April, 2015

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

The Secretary General is the head civil servant of each Irish Government Department.


Videos & Interviews header image

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The Work header image

The Irish Government is made up of 16 Departments of State. Each Department of State has a permanent staff consisting of administrative, professional, specialist and technical employees.

The Minister is the Head of the Department, and the Secretary General is the head civil servant of each Department.

The Secretary General is recommended by the Minister for that Department and appointed for a period of seven years by the Government.

Secretaries General are responsible for managing the Department, implementing government policies, delivering outputs as determined with the Minister, providing advice to the Minister and using resources appropriately and assigning specific functions, for which the Secretary General is responsible, to officers or grades of officers within the Department.

Specific duties and responsibilities of the Secretary General include:

  • Managing the Department
  • Implementing Government policies
  • Delivering outputs as determined with the Minister
  • Providing advice to the Minister and using resources appropriately
  • Assigning specific functions, for which the Secretary General is responsible, to officers or grades of officers within Departments

The Secretary General also has responsibility for managing matters relating to appointments, performance, discipline and the dismissal of staff below the grade of Principal in the Civil Service.

Below the Secretary General, there are a number of Assistant Secretaries, who are each responsible for specific areas of work in the Department.

Below the Assistant Secretaries, there are many officials at varying levels of seniority.


Personal Qualitiesheader image

Managing Relationships:

  • Being a visible and energetic leader who fully engages others
  • Building and supporting cross functional and interdepartmental teams
  • Delegating responsibility and ensuring accountability in others
  • Setting challenging goals and implementing effective performance management
  • Coaching and supporting others to optimise their contribution and development

Strategic Thinker - Creating a vision for the organisation & sector and anticipating the requirements to deliver it by: 

  • Analysing complex issues quickly and anticipating knock-on consequences
  • Taking a system-wide approach and seeing connections, risks and the potential for innovation in the wider environment
  • Leading on the implementation of risk assessment practices and engaging in balanced risk taking
  • Showing courage in making difficult decisions

Drive and Resilience: 

  • Showing initiative and sustaining high levels of personal drive and energy
  • Leading and managing multiple complex priorities effectively
  • Speaking own mind with confidence and conviction
  • Keeping perspective and utilizing personal support strategies to help maintain focus and bounce back from disappointments
  • Staying positive and professional in the face of difficult situations


Entry Routesheader image

Secretary general (SG) appointments are made by government from a short-list provided by the Top Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) of the Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA) and are for a fixed term of seven years maximum.

Last Updated: July, 2014


Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image

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Organisation: Public Appointments Service
Address: Chapter House, 26/30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 858 7400 or Locall: 1890 44 9999
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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Organisation: Association of Higher Public and Civil Servants (AHPCS)
Address: Fleming's Hall, 12 Fleming's Place, Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 668 6077
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...


...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Civil & Public Service, Local Government, Politics & EU

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