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Courses and Awards

There are tens of thousands of courses on offer throughout Ireland. With the exception of 'Hobby' courses, most courses lead to some form of qualification from an accredited authority. In Ireland, most qualifications fit into what is known as the The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). This framework divides all qualifications into ten levels. It can be useful to think of it as a ladder system; entry at the bottom is at Level 1 and Level 10 is at the top.

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The range of Levels include different types of qualifications from Basic Education (Level 1-3) Certificates and Diplomas (Levels 4-7) Undergraduate Degrees (Levels 7-8) and Postgraduate Qualifications (Levels 9-10)

Completion of each level usually means you can progress to the next, so the framework helps you to build up your education and training, thus improving your employment prospects.

Education Levels and Job Zones

Entry into many jobs and occupations usually requires a certain standard of education (e.g. Level 6 Certificate, or a Level 8 Honors Degree), and often specific courses or awards. To assist you in your career research, we have categorised all our occupations according to a general classification known as Job Zones.

Job Zones are a classification according to the level of education, training and experience generally required for each job. There are 5 Zones, Zone 1 refering to a basic level of education or experience (up to Level 4 on the NFQ above), and Zone 5 indicating the higher education Levels (Levels 9 & 10 on the NFQ). 

Note that employers value a persons previous employment experience highly, and often regard a persons experience as equal or more important to qualifications. So for older experienced people, the extent of their experience may play a very significant part in being accepted for a job. This is reflected in the classifications system as it refers to education or experience in many cases.

To search for information on each Occupation and the Job Zones associated with them click here.

Unemployed and looking to upskill

If you are currently unemployed it is important to be aware of the many upskilling and employment initatives available to you. These initiatives aim to encourage engagement in employment opportunities.

For more information click here.
Mary Ita Heffernan, Social Worker

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

I decided to do a 3 year degree in Social Science UCC, Cork which was a clear cut route into the area of Social Work. I also decided to undertake this broad degree course as it would provide me with a variety of different options to pursue after completion of my degree especially in the event that I chose a different career path to Social Work as I got older!

I also chose this course as it provided an introduction to a variety of subjects e.g. Social Policy, Psychology, Sociology Philosophy, Law, Economics and other interesting topics pertinent to certain areas of society .eg. homelessness, social issues such as drug use etc.

In second year, I had to choose which subjects I wanted to specialise in for my degree which ultimately meant that the subjects in question would be focused on in more detail rather than in a generalised context.

In my final year of the degree, I was very determined that Social Work was the career I wanted. Hence, I then completed a two year Masters in Social Work in UCC in order to obtain a Professional Qualification as a Social Work Practitioner. I loved this course and felt like I had finally “come into my own”. Again, this course offers an array of subjects (such as Family Law, Psychology, Working with Children and Families, Policies and Legislation governing Social Work Practice etc.) and skill development based classes (e.g. development and use of counselling skills etc.).

Throughout this two year Masters, one is required to complete two student placements in the field of Social Work - one in a voluntary area, the other in a  statutory agency – the student lists their preference in certain areas of Social Work. I worked firstly in a community development project and my second placement was in a child protection agency in a statutory setting on a specialist team working with children and families at risk where a parent(s) is a drug user.

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Tom Tooher, Lieutenant - Army

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

History, especially military history, hugely affected my career path. Although my Masters Degree in agriculture isn't exactly linked to my career.

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Richard Storey, Shift Manager

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

In school I studied the basic subjects, English, Irish, Maths. I also took French Physics and Biology. These subjects stood to me in my course choice as Biology is essential in understanding how the body works when undertaking a fitness course. As we have come into difficult times recently people have zipped up their pockets and are not renewing their gym memberships, therefore leaving me struggling to obtain a job in this industry. If I could change anything I would have opted for a trade in carpentry or an electrician.

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