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 David Fleming from Defence Forces to give some advice for people considering this job:

David Fleming

Sub Lieutenant - Navy

Defence Forces

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David Fleming
Learn about the Naval Service – look at the website, visit a ship alongside a port when they are open to the public, talk to any friends/family in the Naval Service, ring the Recruiting Office.

Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
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Career Tests

In this section we take a brief look at the different types of assessment, what they are designed to assess, their strengths, limitations and some common misconceptions about them. Today there is a broad range of paper and online assessment tools and they are easily accessed.

It’s helpful to understand what they are about and how to make the most of them. Tests are sometimes referred to as tools or instruments.  Career assessment tools have been around for a very long time. Here’s an early example:

‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich man, Poor man, Beggerman, Thief! 

Nowadays though, things are a bit more scientific!

What's a Career Aassessment Tool?

Career Assessment Tools are designed to help people recognise and understand their personal attributes as they relate to careers. Assessment tools are typically used to measure some of the following:


The purpose of Career Assessment tools is to help people make more informed career decisions. The better a young person knows themselves – the more effective their career decision making will be.

What are the main Career Assessment tools used in Irish schools?

Schools vary in the type of assessment used. Factors taken into account are suitability for school population, cost, availability and accuracy of results for individual students. Here are some examples of the type of career interest profilers currently in use:


This instrument gives information about a young person’s educational goals, their interest in particular subjects and activities and career areas. It’s useful for helping young people to set and focus on their career and educational goals and to encourage them to explore various career options. CII is linked into the Differential Aptitude Tests giving an important link between Career Interests on the one hand and Aptitudes or Abilities on the other. CII takes about thirty minutes to administer to students. Note: Costs apply]

SDS = SELF DIRECTED SEARCH  [click here for more]


R = Realistic
I = Investigative
A = Artistic
S = Social
E = Enterprising
C = Conventional

Holland saw people as loosely falling into these six occupational categories with certain preferences dominating. People who choose careers that match their own occupational type are likely to be more content and fulfilled.  So a person who scores RIE for instance will have a strong leaning towards occupations that are Realistic, Investigative and Enterprising. RIEs will be satisfied, fulfilled and successful in careers such as Engineering, Science and Business where their occupational type matches the chosen livelihood.

The SDS test asks a series of questions broken down into five categories:  Daydreams, Activities, Competencies, Occupations & Self Estimates.

Taking the SDS takes about half an hour and when the results are scored it generates a three letter code = eg RIE. The code is then used to look at a number of career options. Note: Costs apply.


An Irish adaptation of Holland's work using 8 Interest categories developed by CareersPortal, it investigates career interests and offers career suggestions based on responses. The interest test takes about fifteen minutes to complete and generates a good summary page with a clear visual bar chart showing occupational interests. On the basis of results the test indicates career options worth exploring and possible CAO and Further Education course options.

This test is free to use - you can take it yourself and discuss your results with those of your child. This is a good way of engaging with your teen on career matters. All you have to do is SignUp to create an account and then complete the Interest Profiler.


This is an assessment programme aimed at college applicants. It is used to assess interests, abilities and personal qualities. The student is then matched to potential higher education courses throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe. Suggestions are mainly at degree, HND or Diploma levels. Guidelines and work sheets are given to steer students through their course and career research. Centigrade also produces a personal action plan and Course Analysis forms.

Students receive a personalised workbook. Centigrade costs in the region of €25 - €30 depending on number of subscribers and the particular option chosen.


Career assessment tools are designed to cover as broad a range of career options as possible. Encourage your child to focus on the career suggestions that are of greatest interest them.

The same test taken at different stages in your child’s development may yield different results and suggestions. The important thing is that the young person is given opportunities to explore careers and consider their own interests and aptitudes.


There are lots of career and personality instruments on the internet. Those mentioned above offer good help in career development. However others are less scientific and can be misleading or not suitable to the young person.