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Occupation Details

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Teacher - Agricultural Science

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Occupational Category

Secondary Teachers

Also included in this category:

Secondary school teachers; deputy head teachers (secondary school).

Number Employed:


Part time workers: 15%
Aged over 55: 14%
Male / Female: 29 / 71%
Non-Nationals: 3%
With Third Level: 99%
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At a Glance... header image

Responsible for the education of students studying agriculture, food science, and natural resources in secondary school.

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Agricultural science teachers give students vital skills that are important in the agriculture sector including maths, science, leadership, technology, communications, and management. 

The Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science curriculum is designed to provide pupils with the necessary skills, practical experience and knowledge in a range of agricultural and scientific principles.

The subject involves the study of the science and technology underlying the principles and practices of agriculture in Ireland. It aims to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote the sustainability of agricultural resources, and places emphasis on the managed use of these resources.

It  examines the principal farming enterprises in Ireland (dairy, beef, sheep, pig, tillage crops, potatoes, forestry, poultry) and the science underpinning these enterprises.

Plants and animal types associated with agriculture are studied, and investigations are undertaken into such aspects as soil, ecology, plant and animal physiology, farm crops, farming practices, genetics and microbiology.

The Agricultural science course is typically aimed at students with an interest in agriculture or horticulture, or who wish to pursue a career in Veterinary medicine. The subject has broad appeal, even in city schools, and an agricultural background is not necessary.

In 2014, nearly 8000 students sat the Agricultural Science exam in their Leaving Certificate (more than Physics and just shy of Chemistry).

Young people are more interested in where their food comes from these days, thus the subject has increased in popularity over the past number of years.

As well as being classroom and lab orientated, the subject is also deeply rooted in farm practice and most schools will arrange a large number of field trips and excursions to farms, universities and laboratories during the two years of study.

Throughout the two year course the pupils are required to maintain a portfolio of their practical experience, which will be assessed and contribute to their overall grade in the Leaving Certificate. The terminal exam, worth 75% of the total marks, is a 2 1/2 hour paper assessing all elements of the curriculum.

Entry Routesheader image

To become a recognised, second level teacher in Ireland, you must hold a primary degree in a relevant subject area, and/or a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PDE or PGD, previously called H.dip).

Post-primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) is provided through programmes that are either concurrent (undergraduate) or consecutive (postgraduate).

Undergraduate Route

The concurrent (undergraduate) route to a post-primary teaching qualification is offered for a range of programmes (e.g. with practical, laboratory and workshop elements). Students study a 4 or 5 year teacher training programme, which combines the study of education with the study of an academic specialist area and includes school placement.

For the most part, these programmes are in the sciences, technological education, physical education, art and design, music, mathematics, religious education and home economics. For example,  P.E. (UL), Religion (Mater Dei/DCU), Home Economics (St. Angela's), Art (NCAD), Science, Engineering Technology and wood/building technology.

Depending on the subject specialism taken, the final degree awarded may be a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science (Education), a Bachelor of Technology (Education) or a Bachelor of Education.

Some higher education institutions offer a ‘hybrid model’ whereby students can exit the programme with a subject specialist degree after three or four years but are not qualified teachers until they have completed all five years. 

Students apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) and selection is based on the CAO points system.

Consecutive Route

The most common route to becoming a post-primary teacher is a Bachelor's Degree, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. If you go this route, your degree must comprise three years full-time study or equivalent, and enable you to teach at least one curriculum subject to Leaving Cert level. 

E.g.  P.E Teacher - by doing a degree, followed by the Graduate Diploma in Physical Education (P.E.) - UL takes students from a range of backgrounds such as, the BSc. in Health & Leisure Studies at IT Tralee.

Note*: Since September 2014, postgraduate programmes of ITE accredited by the Teaching Council have been extended to two years full time study, or 120 ECTS credits and is now termed the Professional Master of Education 

For consecutive programmes, application is made through the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC), a central application system for NUI colleges and Dublin City University. For other institutions, applications are made directly to individual institutions. 

The teaching profession is monitored by the Teaching Council, who determine the suitability of qualifications to teach subjects in the second level curriculum. 

The Teaching Council website provides details of the individual subject requirements (subject criteria) for all post-primary curricular subjects (i.e. English, Maths, Art, Languages etc). The Teaching Council website also provides a list of degrees deemed to meet the requirements for named curricular subjects. 

Agricultural Science Teaching

In addition to the general requirements for post-Primary Teachers, applicants for Agricultural Science teaching must provide officially certified evidence of satisfactory achievement in primary degree studies (or equivalent) as follows:

  • The study of Agricultural Science as a specialist degree extending over at least three years
  • Details of the degree course content to show that the knowledge, skills and understanding to teach Agricultural Science to the highest level in post-primary education have been acquire
  • The content of the degree course in Agricultural Science should reflect the following indicative tripartite structure:
    • Soils / Earth Science / Natural Resource Science (25%) 
    • Crop (25%) and Animal Production (25%) Sciences (50%)
    • General Biological Concepts 25%.
  • Explicit details of standards achieved in degree studies in Agricultural Science with at least an overall Pass result in the examinations

Additional information must be provided as required.

A list of institutions in Ireland who are providers of post-primary ITE programmes is available here.


Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs)

NQTs need to go through a one-year induction programme after they have qualified. Full details are available from the Association of Teachers' Education Centres in Ireland (ATECI) (See here).

NQTs also need to register their qualifications with The Teaching Council. 

All new teachers will also need to be Garda vetted, as they are responsible for children.

Droichead - Pilot Scheme for NQTs

Droichead is a post-qualification of continuous professional development (CPD) for NQTs. where the NQT works alongside a fully qualified colleague.

Last Updated: August, 2015

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Contactsheader image


Organisation: Irish Agricultural Science Teachers’ Association (IASTA).
Address: Wesley College, Ballinteer, Dublin, 16.
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:

Education & Teaching
Farming, Horticulture & Forestry

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