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 Lydia Peppard from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:

Lydia Peppard

Care Assistant

Health Service Executive

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Lydia Peppard
The advise that I would give to someone considering this job is to do their Leaving Cert and do the Transition year as this would give an opportunity to get some job experience or do some voluntary work within the community.

Do a Level 5 FETAC health related course. The skills and qualities that are needed to do this type of work are a real sense of caring for other people, communication skills, listening skills, be able to take and give constructive criticism without causing or taking offence, patience a willing to give your best effort to your work.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Ships Captain

Job Zone

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.

€42k > 62
Ships Captain
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€42 - 62
Related Information:
Data Source(s):
Irish Maritime Development Office

Last Updated: March, 2017

Ships Master
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€42 - 62
Related Information:
Data Source(s):
Irish Maritime Development Office

Last Updated: March, 2017

* 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

Responsible for the business, navigation and operation of all types of sea going vessels.

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The Work header image

The Captain of a Ship or a Boat has the important job of commanding the vessel through domestic and deep-sea waterways, so that passengers and cargo arrive safely.

To do this, they need knowledge of the mechanical and electrical workings of ships, navigation, signaling, national and international legal rules in waterways, as well as strong leadership skills, since they also supervise the work of all other crew members.

Captains in the merchant marine have the most senior jobs. They typically attend officer training programmes, and qualify for their jobs through a series of examinations and qualifications over a period of years.

At sea, the Captain is on call 24 hours a day. While in port, a 40-hour workweek is standard.

The work can be hazardous with the risks of falls, fire, collision, and sinking always present. Harsh temperature variations and violent storms are possible at sea.

Captains travel extensively, but they seldom have time to explore the ports they visit. They are away from their home ports for long periods of time.

Work Activities

  • Steer and operate the vessel using radios, depth finders, radars, lights, buoys, and lighthouses
  • Compute positions, set courses, and determine speeds, by using charts, area plotting sheets, compasses, sextants, and knowledge of local conditions
  • Inspect vessels to ensure efficient and safe operation of vessels and equipment, and conformance to regulations
  • Measure depths of water, using depth-measuring equipment
  • Direct and coordinate crew members or workers performing activities, such as loading and unloading cargo, steering vessels, operating engines, and operating, maintaining, and repairing ship equipment
  • Calculate sightings of land using electronic sounding devices, and following contour lines on charts
  • Signal passing vessels using whistles, flashing lights, flags, and radios
  • Maintain boats and equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers, and life preservers
  • Signal crew members or deckhands to rig tow lines, open or close gates and ramps, and pull guard chains across entries
  • Read gauges to verify sufficient levels of hydraulic fluid, air pressure, and oxygen
  • Maintain records of daily activities, personnel reports, ship positions and movements, ports of call, weather and sea conditions, pollution control efforts, and/or cargo and passenger status
  • Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, and/or repaired
  • Assign watches and living quarters to crew members
  • Purchase supplies and equipment
  • Tow and manoeuver barges, or signal tugboats to tow barges to destinations
  • Perform various marine duties, such as checking for oil spills or other pollutants around ports and harbors, and patrolling beaches
  • Monitor the loading and discharging of cargo or passengers
  • Collect fares from customers, or signal ferryboat helpers to collect fares
  • Sort logs, form log booms, and salvage lost logs
  • Resolve questions or problems with customs officials
  • Interview and hire crew members

Personal Qualitiesheader image

A Captain needs to have excellent vision and good physical condition, along with outstanding leadership, organisation, and communication skills, and a calling to the sea.

Entry Routesheader image

Captains in the merchant marine have the most senior jobs. Knowledge of the mechanical and electrical workings of ships, together with navigation skills, signaling, national and international legal rules in waterways are all part of their job.

Training required will include qualifications in the areas of seamanship and navigational studies, marine/nautical engineering, nautical science, maritime operations and technology, logistics, and marine transport management.

Entrants attend officer training programmes, and qualify for their jobs through a series of examinations and qualifications over a period of years.

Experience as a deck/crew member is a valuable starting point.

See the National Maritime College for details of related courses and professinal training programmes.

See also The Naval Service of the Defence Forces for details of related training opportunities.

Last Updated: October, 2014

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image


Organisation: National Maritime College of Ireland
Address: Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork
Tel: (021) 497 0600
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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