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 John Liston from Forestry Careers Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:

John Liston

Project Manager

Forestry Careers Ireland

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John Liston
Be flexible and willing to adapt and keep an open mind when working on challenging problems.

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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Organisation Profile - Design & Crafts Council of Ireland

Design & Crafts Council of Ireland 

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Susan Boland

Susan Boland
Ceramics Designer
Rob D'Eath

Rob D'Eath
Furniture Maker
Garvan de Bruir

Garvan de Bruir
Barry Doyle

Barry Doyle
Art Studio Manager
Jamie McCarthy-Fisher

Jamie McCarthy-Fisher
Glass Maker
Tony Hayes

Tony Hayes
Michael Roche

Michael Roche
Woollen Mill Owner
Philip Cushen

Philip Cushen
Candle Maker
Heather De Lacy

Heather De Lacy
Terry O'Brien

Terry O'Brien
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Crafting Your Future

Crafting Your Future

Career Opportunities... header image
What are the main occupations in this sector?

There is a diverse range of careers in craft and design which are equally challenging, innovative and fulfilling. Training as a craftsperson or designer opens up a variety of career opportunities. You could be a self-employed designer/maker in areas such as fashion, textiles, ceramics, jewellery or furniture design, or how about working as a design consultant, a museum/gallery curator, a retail buyer, college lecturer, multimedia CAD designer or even a trend forecaster. There is a wide range of options open to you by simply following your desire to express yourself through your skills and creativity.

You could consider becoming:

  • Self-employed designer and craftsperson in a range of areas such as: fashion, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, furniture making
  • Studio-based production, design and manufacturing
  • Design consultancy 
  • Museum or Gallery Curator
  • Educator, College Lecturer
  • Retail Buyer
  • Multi-media CAD Designer 
  • Trend forecaster

Get inspired to pursue an exciting career in the craft and design sector! View work from a range of makers and designers as varying stages of their careers:

Future Makers works to support third level students and emerging makers who wish to persue a career in the craft and design sector:

Design Ireland connects a diverse community of makers retailers and design lovers in a commercial and creative

PORTFOLIO actively works to grow the reputations of makers across all major disciplines of contemporary craft. Featured makers are those producing innovative objects, either one-off pieces or limited editions, and working to high standards of design quality and technical skill:

TISSUE is a womens ready-to-wear label based in Dublin. Our clothing is designed and made in Ireland using high quality natural fabrics. TISSUE clothes are 100% ethically and sustainably produced.    

We work on very different schedules. Hannah is an early bird, in the studio by 8.30am and out the door at 4pm, Gráinne works better in the evening. We start each collection with a chat about what has been on our radars lately, in terms of cultural theory/design ideas etc. and then set out design and production deadlines and go from there. Gráinne does all our print design so she’ll be off drawing and tinkering on the computer and Hannah works on the garment design and construction process. Each collection is supported by ongoing visual research, we have a giant mood board in the studio and we often break to discuss what way things will work together. There is a lot of admin involved as well so that takes up quite a lot of time. We have a shared studio space with a few other designers so there is a really nice supportive and creative atmosphere.


What types of employment contracts are there?

Generally those in contractual positions within the crafts sector (so not self-employed) are either in full-time positions or part-time roles. There are limited opportunities for job sharing or remote working.


What are the typical earnings of these occupations?

DCCoI are currently conducting a survey of the sector and will post this information on the site, when it becomes available.


How do you get a job in this sector?

Creativity, a love of materials and process are a good basis for choosing a career in craft or design. Additionally an interest in business is useful if thinking of setting up your own enterprise. You will need passion and determination to succeed and stand out in this sector, and good interpersonal skills are an advantage for networking.

Finding a job or establishing a business:

Jobs in the sector are found through a number of means. Being subscribed to the right newsletters and alerts is key. It is therefore very important for those studying a craft or design discipline to make contact and become members of professional networks. For example the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) has free student membership.

Internships, workplacements and volunteering are also good ways to make connections and begin getting experience in this area. But sure to select your internship or placement carefully so that you will get the most benefit out of it. Does the organisation you are working with have a good reputation? What kind of work you will get to do while you are there? Can you ask a past intern how they found working there? Is it in the right area for where you want to go in career?

If you are thinking of setting up a craft or design enterprise in the future you might want to look at the DCCoI enterprise website

You can also seek advice from your Local Enterpirse Office

FURNITURE: Alan Merideth Studios

From a young age I had a desire to make things from all sorts of materials. Over the years wood became my material of choice. The disciplines of woodturning and furniture making traditonally use solid wood and so I was naturally attracted in this direction.

Studying Architecture came about from a desire to explore design and making from a broad perspecive. Setting up my studio after my studies was an attempt to steer my career towards a creative process with more physical involvement.

What has your career looked like so far?

Throughout my time in university I was making and selling my furniture and

installations that are both material based and with substantial spacial consequences.

Lately I have produced a distinct collection of furniture and turned vessels which have been exhibited both nationally and interna6onally. I produce both speculative and bespoke commissions from my workshop. This allows me to maintain a steady workflow while also giving space for experimentation.

The work I have produced over the last couple of years is sold at fairs and through galleries and I have won a number of awards including the Tresor Discovery Award in Basel, Switzerland and the Future Maker of the Year award from the DCCOI.


Education and Training... header image
What qualifications are required?

Training & Education

There are a number of routes to becoming a highly skilled craftsperson or designer. Many people choose to study in a college of further education or undertake a third level degree. Others take up an apprenticeship with a craftsperson or design studio.

And some continue their studies specialising in a very specific area of craft and refining their skills. Although of course, a formal education is not needed to start a craft or design career, different education opportunities available in Ireland allow you to hone skills and techniques as well as build up connections in the sector.

Some craft disciplines have specialised coruses such as the intensive two-year programmes offered at the DCCoI Centres of Excellence in ceramics and jewellery.If you intend on focusing on a specific craft or design disapline you should do some research to see what course focus on this and the different facilities the school or college has to offer.

GRAPHIC DESIGN: Leon; Bold Visual Narrative

When I graduated I ended in the housing market doing stuff like 3D modelling and rendering of houses that weren't built yet. We'd make a DVD of it and some graphics and they would sell them off the plans. It was a small start-up - which was cool.

I always played in bands and we never had any money, so I designed the posters and EP covers myself, if someone was putting on a DJ night, I'd design the posters so I ended up doing a lot of fun stuff on the side. I was starting to feel that I was getting a bit railroaded into just straight graphics, that I had lost the animation and media dimension, so I went back and did a Masters in Digital Media in the Huston Film School at NUIG. e had a lab there, so I set up my own practice at the same time. It was nearly like a start-up incubator because I had access to a big computer and a lab 24 hours a day on campus.

While studying, I was getting private work in and building  a small client base and making music videos, so it was really, really worthwhile. That's when I decided it's just me and my practice now, and set up Bold Visual Narrative. The Masters flipped it for me and opened me up to the broader  range of work  that I do now, compared to just graphics at the start. Over the last few years I’ve gotten to work on projects in New York and Los Angeles which has been really big and valuable and it’s kept growing from there.


What are the typical routes into this sector?

The majority of those pursuing craft as a career enter after college having pursued a qualification. There are a small number of alternative routes available such as apprenticeship or directly with a craftsperson or business.

Explore the Learners/Teachers section of the DCCoI Website here for an overview of all programmes for learners and teachers.


Advice... header image
What advice do you have for school leavers?

 It is advisable to get experience where you can. Try volunteering, maybe think about an internship or other work experience to give you a taste of the area you feel you might be interested in. Additionally, reputation should not be underestimated in this industry. Putting yourself out there and making connections is esstential to succeed in the sector. The earlier you do this the more people you will meet!

Gayle Anderson, jeweller and CAD specialist at Appleby Jewellers would give this advice to her youngerself:

“Ask for work experience earlier. One of the biggest challenges in this industry is how to get into it. Get familiar with every jewellery business in the trade from large retails jewellers to independent makers. Go to trade shows as a student and talk to makers and see how they got started. Ask around to see if you could help out in more than one workshop even one day a week. This will give you a great feel for what the day to day work is like in different kinds of environments. It’s important to know what you’re signing up for before you commit to the career. It is also important to have a clear goal in mind of what kind of work you want to be doing so you can make the right education and career decisions along the way to get you to that goal. Invest in yourself and don’t undervalue yourself!”


What advice do you have for graduates?

The time after graduation is a key one. There are lots of opportunities for recent graduates including awards and grants. Do your research and find out what supports are there and make the most of them (often they can be time limited i.e. only available up to two years after graduation). DCCoI run Future Makers, an annual awards programme supporting students and emerging maker . Tradefairs and shows can be a good place to show your work, for example New Designers: . Now is the time to raise your profile and make your mark!

Sara Flynn, Ceramic artist:

“Recognise* when you are given good advice and, even when it stings - take it. (*This is the real challenge. Advice from experienced, trusted people rather than everything everyone throws at you!).

Pay a professional photographer for good photography from the start. It is not a question about whether or not you can afford it - it is a statement that you can’t afford NOT to do it.”


Meet our People...
"I don't tend to do a lot of sketching I generally design on the wheel, most of my ideas are in my head."
Susan Boland
"Leather has been used to make things for hundreds of years and by combining it with modern technology we can ensure it fits contemporary needs."
Furniture Maker
Garvan de Bruir
"Designing commision work and bespoke jewellery pieces would be a big part of our business."
Barry Doyle
"I love to look at the trees when they're growing, they are the same trees I played in when I was a kid."
Terry O'Brien
"Everything is made here in the Kite Design Studio, we are purely handmade Irish crystal."
Glass Maker
Tony Hayes
"Its a very wonderful thing to know that [our art works] are hanging on walls all around the world"
Art Studio Manager
Jamie McCarthy-Fisher
"When the customer is satisfied it makes it a good day."
Michael Roche
"In this profession there is always more to learn, you wont get perfection but you will get close to it."
Woollen Mill Owner
Philip Cushen
"Our inspiration comes from where we live and from people we meet."
Candle Maker
Heather De Lacy
"When I wake up in the morning and know I have to come to work I'm happy."
Ceramics Designer
Rob D'Eath

About this Sector... header image
Please give an overview of your sector?

Ireland has a strong heritage in craft and design, for example the famous Kilkenny Design Workshops (learn more about KDW here. Our skills in creating are renowned worldwide. Irish craft and design are part of the 'creative industries', a sector which is growing rapidily Read more here. Craft and design’s contribution is both economic, social and cultural. It is about growing new innovative businesses and cherishing our rich heritage.

Currently the Design Crafts Council of Ireland, (DCCoI), has a over 2,500 Registered Client Enterprises. Updating of these figures is ongoing to keep current with the active client enterprises on our register.

Key craft and design disciplines in Ireland include:

  • woodworking and furniture making
  • fashion and textiles
  • glass
  • metalworking
  • jewellery
  • goldsmithing 
  • ceramics

Learn more about the Craft and Design sector with these industry reports:


What is the size and scope of the sector?

The craft industry is estimated to be valued at €122M.

The range of activities includes design and production of craft for retail and wholesale markets; for gallery exhibitions and collectors and craft education and training.

DCCoI are currently conducting a comprehensive survey of the craft industry and findings will be posted on this site when they become available.


What are the current issues affecting this sector?

The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s current strategy is focused on: 

  • Developing the market for Irish craft and design 
  • Developing the knowledge and skills for emerging and existing craftmakers
  • Raising awareness, understanding and appreciation of Irish craft and design
  • Supporting membership organisations in the development of the sector
  • Developing innovation, enterprise and design capability

Year of Irish Design 2015

Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) was the start of a job creation journey exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design and designers through events and activities on the island of Ireland and internationally.


What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years

Innovation in design of products and production methods is likely to continue to play an important role in the development of the Irish craft industry. The sector is likely to continue to experience competition from imported goods therefore product marketing and particular branding for Irish craft will be critical.


Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?

DCCoI are currently conducting an industry survey of the craft sector and findings will be posted on this site as soon as they become available.


Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?

There are certain areas within the craft sector that may experience skills shortages in coming years due to the lack of training courses available in Ireland. 

There are a number of craft disciplines that are no longer taught through an apprentice type structure and costs for equipment and materials for certain crafts mean they are no longer offered through our further education or third level institutions.


About Us... header image

The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing Government policy. 

Irish craft businesses are characteristically small in scale and are geographically widespread, but taken nationally, the industry is a significant employer while also providing viable, sustainable enterprises in all areas, including those isolated rural communities often seen as unsuitable by other manufacturing sectors.

To register with the DCCoI click here


The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) recognise the critical role that education plays in the future growth of craft and design sector and in the preservation of our cultural heritage.

DCCoI has a number of education initiatives at primary, second and third level aimed at developing an awareness of craft and creativity and promoting careers in the craft industry. For more information on these click here.