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 Luke Heffernan from Forestry Careers Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:

Luke Heffernan

Forestry Inspector

Forestry Careers Ireland

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Luke Heffernan
I would explain that it is a role where you can expect to be learning every day, most especially from what you observe on the ground and from the people that you meet.

Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
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Organisation Profile - Marine Institute

Marine Institute 

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Our Vision: "a thriving maritime economy in harmony with the ecosystem and supported by the delivery of excellence in our services."

Our Vision: "a thriving maritime economy in harmony with the ecosystem and supported by the delivery of excellence in our services."

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

Explore Career interviews here: 

For more information on Marine based careers see OCEANS OF OPPORTUNITY – A Guide to Marine Careers

The marine economy offers a wide and diverse range of career opportunities. The occupations within the ocean economy are distributed across all levels: management (including specialist management functions), professionals (including engineers, scientists); associate professionals (e.g. technicians), operatives (riggers, deckhands); sales and elementary occupations, and reflect the diverse educational requirements: Higher (HE) and Further Education and Training (FET); Leaving Certificate; Junior Certificate and no formal qualifications.

The marine economy, both nationally and globally, has a requirement for technicians and general operatives as well as highly skilled technical staff and professionals. The core skills and knowledge of these occupations, e.g. electricians, metal workers and mechanical engineers, are relevant to both land and sea based roles and as such are transferable. The land-based skills can be “marinised” to deal with the challenges of working in an off-shore and/or a marine environment

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Occupations are offered in each of the following areas:


Ireland’s natural resource based seafood industry provides an important source of economic activity, especially in our remote coastal regions. It provides jobs on fishing vessels, fish farms, in processing operations, in distribution and marketing seafood at home and to export markets and in a large number of smaller ancillary companies that provide services to the mainstream industry operators.

Details of the specific occupations in the seafood sector and video interviews with a number of people working in the sector are available on the dedicated CareersPortal page of Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the national seafood development agency or you can visit the BIM website

Shipping and Maritime Transport

There are a wide variety of career opportunities available in the shipping and maritime transport sector both on land and at sea. Occupations include:

  • Captain
  • Chef
  • Deckhand
  • Electrician
  • Engine Utility
  • Fleet Manager
  • Freight Forwarder
  • Harbourmaster
  • Marine Architect
  • Marine Economist
  • Marine Engineer
  • Marine Finance
  • Marine Insurance
  • Master Mariner
  • Port Security
  • Ship Fitter
  • Shipbroker
  • Stevedore

Marine Manufacturing, Construction and Engineering

Occupations in this sector include:

  • Boat and Related Equipment Manufacturing
  • Boat and Ship Repair
  • Boat Manufacturing
  • Marine Industrial Engineering
  • Net manufacturing
  • Other Marine Manufacturing
  • Water Construction

Below is a brief description of one occupation in this sector.

Marine Engineering

Marine engineering deals with the design, development, production and maintenance of the equipment used at sea and on board sea vessels like boats and ships. A marine engineer is a professional who is responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of all major mechanical and engineered equipment on board a ship.

Employers of marine engineers include:

  • Research and advisory bodies
  • International oil and gas organisations, drilling, maintenance and specialist service contractors
  • Organisations involved in renewable energy
  • Offshore contractors, Engineering design consultancies, Suppliers of materials and equipment


The sub-sectors assessed under this sector are:

  • Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
  • Marine Renewables – Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal

There are two distinct industries in the energy sector that relate to Ireland’s ocean economy, the offshore oil and gas sector and the offshore renewables sector.

The offshore oil and gas sector is a well-established, global industry. The oil and gas industry relies on a flexible, mobile and international workforce and there are many skilled Irish people working in the sector abroad.

There are three main areas of work in the offshore oil and gas industry:

  • Exploration involves conducting surveys and tests to find worthwhile reserves of oil and gas.
  • Field development involves deciding how to extract fuel, setting up production facilities and drilling wells.
  • Production and maintenance involves operating and maintaining equipment. There are jobs offshore on support vessels, platforms and drilling rigs and on shore at terminals servicing the equipment and constructing new platforms.

Offshore renewables is an emerging sector, which has seen dramatic growth globally over the last ten years. The outlook for the sector is generally positive. Various companies involved in the offshore wind sector have projects at various stages of development.

In both oil & gas and marine renewables there are opportunities in engineering design, planning and project management. Offshore installations need production operatives, welders, electricians, mechanics, storekeepers and cooks. There are also jobs for divers to maintain platforms. Professional occupations in the energy sector include marine energy engineer, drilling, reservoir & petroleum engineers, geoscientists/ geophysicists, hydrographic surveyors, production & facilities engineers, environmental & chemical engineers, structural & mechanical engineers, power systems, turbine monitoring & diagnostic and smart grid engineers, wave scientists, data systems analysts, naval architects, marine surveyors, oceanographers, marine meteorologists, energy economists, master mariners and other deck officers, and engineering officers.

Employers in the energy sector include:

  • Research and advisory bodies
  • International oil and gas organisations, drilling, maintenance and specialist service contractors
  • Organisations involved in renewable energy
  • Offshore contractors, engineering design consultancies, suppliers of materials and equipment

Marine Tourism & Recreation

Marine-based tourism and recreation is a large contributor to the Irish ocean economy and has historically been an important sector for the Irish coastal economy.

Due to significant investment in initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way, which has a direct impact on marine tourism along Ireland’s western coast, further improvement in air access and the increased use of focused marketing both in Ireland and abroad, Fáilte Ireland have projected an increase in the number of overseas tourists set to visit Ireland.

Occupations in the tourism industry are available at the following levels:

  • Operative Grades – bar staff, waiting staff, cleaners, drivers, retailers, general operatives
  • Administration – hr staff, general administrators, receptionists
  • Skilled Trades – sailing and wind surfing instructors, diving instructors canoeing/sea kayaking instructors, angling instructors, adventure sports instructors, lifeguards, boat builders, tour operators/guides, maintenance technicians, marine engine maintenance, electricians, chefs
  • Associate Professional & Technical – engineering technicians and it technicians
  • Professionals – marketing and public relations staff, translators, environmental managers
  • Management – managers - adventure centres and marine parks, hotel and catering managers

Marine Research, Science & Technology

Marine research is carried out by the State, across Irish Higher Education Institutions and in a number of indigenous SME’s and FDI companies.

This sector includes a broad range of disciplines including science, engineering, technology, business, and humanities.

Examples of such occupations in this sector include the following:

Marine Biologists

Marine biologists study animal, plant and microscopic life in oceans. An estimated 80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface. Plants and animals act as indicators of the effect of human activities on the planet, such as pollution and climate change. Marine biologists play a vital role in studying these effects.

Employers of marine biologists include:

  • The State such as the Marine Institute, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Research teams across the Higher Education Institutes (Universities and Institutes of Technology)
  • Environmental charities and non-governmental organisations
  • Commercial sectors (SMEs and FDI)
  • Government-run regulatory bodies

Food Safety

Food Safety is vital for maintaining the levels of production and quality in the fish industry. All fish and shellfish that are available for human consumption must pass rigorous health and safety checks before they reach the market (and in some cases even before they are harvested) to ensure they do not pose a risk when consumed or pose a risk of cross contamination in to other food products. All food that is made available must comply with the legal requirements as set down by both the EU and National legislation.

Laboratory analysts and chemists investigate all kinds of issues and problems relating to food safety within fish and shellfish.

Employers in this field include:

  • Research and advisory bodies (such as the Marine Institute or Bord Iascaigh Mhara)
  • Higher Education Institutes research teams
  • Commercial sector (seafood)
  • Government-run regulatory bodies (such as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland; Bord Bia; Teagasc)


Oceanography is a scientific discipline concerned with all aspects of the world's oceans and seas, including their physical and chemical properties, origin and geology, and life forms.

Oceanography combines many different scientific disciplines. Oceanographers can specialise in the following areas:

  • Physical oceanography is the study of the temperature, density and salt content of the oceans, as well as tides, currents, waves and ocean circulation
  • Chemical oceanography focuses on the chemical composition and properties of seawater and marine sediments, and the behaviour of pollutants
  • Geological oceanography is concerned with the seabed, its composition, structure and formation
  • Biological oceanography is the study of the many life forms that live in the sea

Employers of oceanographers / marine meteorologists include:

  • Research teams at in Higher Education Institutions
  • Across the State e.g. Marine Institute
  • National meteorological services, such as Met Éireann
  • Companies in the water industry and energy supply companies
  • Marine survey and consulting companies
  • Ocean instrumentation manufacturers
  • Environmental Consultancies

Hydrographic Surveyor

A person who surveys oceans is called a hydrographic surveyor. The hydrographer is involved with every aspect of ocean data from measuring currents, tides and waves, observing the ocean environment, mapping the ocean floor and exploring for the minerals that lie far beneath. Some of the activities hydrographers are involved in are:

  • Charting the seas and oceans
  • Environmental studies
  • Exploring for fossil fuels, such as oil and gas
  • Offshore engineering and construction
  • Ports, harbours and coastal engineering operations
  • Similar work in lakes and inland waterways
  • Trans-oceanic telecommunication cables


An academic is someone who holds an advanced degree and works as a researcher at a college or university. Academics generally work within a university, combining research, teaching and administrative duties.

Academia is a competitive profession. Unsurprisingly, there is a strong emphasis on excellent qualifications. Most people entering academia are at the level of lecturer or above, and are now expected to have a doctoral level qualification, such as a PhD, EngD, DPhil, DBA etc.

Many academics spend time outside their home country to gain wider experience and to help establish an international reputation.

Marine Technology

The sub-sector assessed under this sector is:

  • High-tech marine products and services

The high tech marine products and services sector builds on Ireland’s existing marine information and communication technology (ICT), science and engineering base to develop new knowledge based products and services for global marine markets. It is an emerging sector in Ireland consisting of over 50 SMEs and a number of MNCs with core capabilities in diverse areas such as advanced sensing and communications, data management and informatics, marine robotics and artificial intelligence, materials science and marine engineering. These technologies support activity in a number of marine sectors such as oil and gas, transport and shipping, fisheries and aquaculture, coastal tourism and safety, security and surveillance. They also underpin development in emerging sectors such as marine renewable energy, marine environmental monitoring and resource management.

In recent years Ireland has invested in infrastructure to support the development of this sector into the future. This includes national test and demonstration facilities which recently received a major upgrade with the deployment of a sub-sea ocean observatory in Galway bay. This has further enhanced Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for marine technology research and innovation given its geographic location and extensive ocean resource, along with its existing research infrastructure, datasets and ICT and engineering base. The outlook for high tech marine products and services sector remains positive for the future.

Examples of occupations in Marine Technology include the following:

Marine ICT Personnel                                                                  

The technology sector is growing by the second and changing every day. Here are some of the latest developments in the Marine Information Communication Technology (ICT) Sector regarding software development:

  • Gaming technologies are being investigated for the creation of virtual oceans and to act as interactive design tools for marine spatial offshore explorations
  • Unmanned, autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles are being developed at the Mobile Marine Robotics Research Centre of the University of Limerick
  • 3D computer simulations of marine data have been created by the company RealSim
  • SmartBay, Ireland’s National Facility for Marine ICT was set up to provide a real world test environment for the development of technology products and services for the global marine sector
  • IBM has web portals that display data on environmental conditions
  • Intel has developed a wireless communication system to help transmit data from the marine environment in real time.

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) Pilot/Technician

ROVs are small submarines which are tethered to the surface by an umbilical cord through which electrical power is passed down to the vehicle. The same umbilical cord also allows telemetry control, video and other sensor data to pass to and from and enables the ROV pilot to ‘fly’ their mini-submarine through a huge – and ever increasing – variety of tasks.

The work you could be involved in:

  • Launching and “flying” your vehicle by remote control from the surface of the water to depths of up to 165 metres (some ROVs can dive to 4,000 metres)
  • Operating equipment such as cameras and interpreting data, sometimes in poor visibility, from video or sonar displays to calculate and keep track of the position of your vehicle
  • Navigating the ROV’s route, avoiding hazards such as moving parts of the ship
  • Operating robotic arms (if your vehicle has them), to perform simple tasks such as picking up items from the seabed
  • Judging the changing weather conditions, if necessary altering the dive programme at short notice
  • Relaying information during the dive, verbally on to videocassette and computer
  • Regularly maintaining the ROV and its associated equipment and carrying out repairs on location
  • Carrying out technical tasks: for example, rigging and operating small boats and basic electronic and hydraulic construction
  • Writing technical reports and ordering spare parts by computer

Most ROV personnel are employed directly by one of the ROV operators or contractors. As well as the oil and gas industries, ROV pilot technicians find work in research institutions, civil engineering, the defence and security industry, environmental sciences and marine archaeology.

Maritime Commerce & Law

Maritime commerce refers to legal services, financial services, insurance and ship surveying. In this sector companies provide services across a range of marine categories, primarily, maritime transportation including ship finance, ship leasing, shipbroking, tourism and leisure, fisheries and aquaculture as well as energy. The majority of these companies are large international firms, who have marine-related divisions.

The general outlook for the marine commerce sector is very positive and Ireland has huge potential to grow this sector in the future.

Ship Finance / Ship Leasing

For example, Ireland’s success as a global hub for financial services and aircraft leasing is easily transferable to achieve further growth in ship finance and ship leasing. Financial services should also continue to grow given that certain financial institutions within the sector are now permitted to lend to the offshore & logistics sectors after several years of restrictions.

Maritime Law

Maritime law is a fundamental branch of law that regulates commerce and navigation on the seas, covering a broad spectrum of matters such as the development of legislation, both nationally and internationally; customs and excise regulations; the fishing industry; human rights and employment issues usually relating to the crew; insurance claims and property damage. As the shipping and maritime industry in Ireland grows, the need for maritime law specialists will grow in tandem.  

Marine Insurance

Marine Insurance is also an important area of marine commerce, with companies look for seeking employees with a good level of general education e.g. some have a relevant diploma or degree to start off as a claims executive, while others will have a basic business or maritime degree.

  • Marine insurers can provide tailored solutions to such problems as:
  • Delay and loss of market
  • Marine business interruption
  • Piracy Cover
  • Stock throughputs
  • Terrorism and political exposures
  • Trade disruption
  • Transit insurance
  • War and strikes risks.


A Shipbroker can come from any walk of life, straight out of school or university or ex-seafarers. Experience at sea is not a necessity. Any graduate with a finance, business or economics background that has an interest in international trading and finance would be well advised to consider shipbroking as a career.

Traditional shipbroking centres such as London are now competing with emerging centres as technology allows us to move away from the traditional market locations. New areas such as Ireland, South Africa, India and China are seeing more brokers being set up to service the increasing business. There are also significant markets in such places as Oslo, London, Hamburg, Paris, New York, Houston Vancouver, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Dubai, and New Delhi.

Shipbrokers are important providers of maritime insurance. Brokers are central to the efficient working of the marine insurance market. Like intermediaries in any business sector, brokers face competition from other service providers, as well as from the internet and the increasing opportunities, which it is said to provide for clients to deal directly with underwriters.

Marine Biotechnology and Bioproducts

Marine biotechnology is the use of biological knowledge and analytical and processing techniques to develop new products from marine biological materials. It exploits the diversity of marine organisms in terms of form, structure, physiology and chemistry. The sector also includes seaweed harvesting.

The future potential for the sector lays in higher value added products such as functional ingredients and foods. The transition through the value chain is happening very gradually as the industry in its current state is quite focused on raw materials and products that require minimal processing.

Jobs in this sector can be found at all occupation levels – operative, administration, skilled trades, associate professional & technical, professionals, and management.

For a full list of occupations please see page 53 of A Study of the Current and Future Skills Requirements of the Marine / Maritime Economy to 2020


What types of employment contracts are there?

Employment in the marine sector can be full time, part time or seasonal work depending on the specific sub-sector and the required role.


What are the typical earnings of these occupations?

Given the wide variety of careers available across the marine and maritime sectors in Ireland, entry level salaries reflect the diverse educational requirements for various roles from PhD to degree level, leaving certificate and junior certificate, to no formal qualifications being required.

Some examples of salaries in the marine sector (per annum) include:

  • 3rd Junior Officers / Officers - €35,000 - €45,000
  • ETOs (Electro Technology Officers ) - €40,000 - €50,000
  • Hydrographic Surveyor –€30,000+
  • Marine Biologist – €23,000 - €35,000
  • Marine Engineer – €27,000 - €60,000
  • Marine Scientist – €23,000+
  • Merchant Navy Deck Officer – €21,000+
  • Naval Architect – €35,000+
  • Ship Captain – €42,000 - €62,000
  • Shipbroker – €18,000+
  • Shipping Clerk – €25,000 - €40,000

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.

A guide to researcher salaries can be found on the Irish Universities Association website here.

The public service also employs a variety of scientific, technical and public administration staff across a range of marine sectors. Information on the types of jobs is available here.



How do you get a job in this sector?

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the marine sector you can:

  • Talk to your careers advisor
  • Attend the Marine Institute’s annual Open Day, which is open for all, from transition year students, to leaving certificate students, teachers and parents

Marine Institute, Open Day 2016 from Marine Institute on Vimeo.

  • Contact relevant organisations or look at their websites
  • Get some work experience (for example the Marine Institute run an annual bursary programme for undergraduate students to gain hands on experience)
  • Get experience at sea – a range of multidisciplinary training courses take place on Ireland’s marine research vessels run by the Marine Institute. The SMART Programme, a collaborative inter-institutional programme led and funded by Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the Marine Institute is an excellent way to train and upskill.
  • Use the information sources at the end of the Oceans of Opportunity brochure, which provides Careers Advice and information on Training And Work Experience Opportunities, Grants, and Volunteering. 

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If you are already qualified, there are career opportunities all over the world. In the marine industry there are lots of exciting opportunities at home and there are also opportunities to work abroad. You can get advice on the comparability of your qualifications by contacting Quality and Qualifications Ireland at or ENIC (European Network of Information Centres) or

Maritime sector jobseekers should keep an eye out for open positions posted on Public Jobs and the Marine Institute Vacancies page


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

Marine education is provided primarily through the third level education system in Ireland. While there is evidence to suggest that there is some degree of interest in marine education at primary and secondary levels, the majority is provided by universities and institutes of technology in Ireland. In contrast, marine training is mainly provided through a range of marine related courses and modules across vocational or continuous professional development programmes and sector‐specific training.

Marine Education

Ireland’s third level education institutions offer a range of marine and marine‐related undergraduate and postgraduate courses. There are approximately 106 marine related courses currently provided. Those courses can be classified as:

  • fully marine
  • partially marine (two or more marine modules)
  • marine element (one marine module)
  • 62 undergraduate courses (link below)
  • 44 postgraduate courses (link below)
For a comprehensive list of undergraduate and postgraduate courses available click here

Marine Training

Marine training is defined as any marine related course that does not result in a National Framework Qualification (NFQ) level 7‐10. Ireland provides a broad range of marine related courses across vocational and continuous professional development areas and sector‐specific training e.g. seafood, merchant (seafarer) and ocean energy.

These are provided by both the State and private operators. There are numerous international conventions and agreements enforced by national authorities with regard to maritime safety and training. With the introduction of new legislation and conventions, there is a growing drive to maintain high training standards. Recent changes in the regulatory environment have increased the need for marine training courses.

Private Marine Training Providers

Maritime Safety applies to all sea‐going vessels from merchant ships to passenger ferries, fishing trawlers and leisure craft. The Marine Survey Office (MSO) of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) in Ireland is responsible for the certifications of seafarers’ competencies. Private small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) provide the training courses across Ireland.

Public Marine Training Providers

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) is the national agency with responsibility for training in the seafood sector. BIM’s courses cover a variety of disciplines including: Fishing – Skipper and Crew; Aquaculture; Processors and Retailers and Sea Safety training. BIM’s recent Strategy 2013 ‐ 2017 sets a target of 7,000 individuals to be trained by 2017.

SMART is a cluster of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the Marine Institute, led by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The consortium was established in 2011 to develop and deliver practical offshore training on‐board the national research vessels for students of marine science, technology and engineering with the aim of increasing national capacity in research and enterprise. SMART offshore training is recognised nationally and internationally as critical in developing the next generation of marine graduates, equipped with the knowledge, practical research and data collection skills necessary to carry out research and operate at sea. This in turn supports the growing marine sector by producing experienced and skilled marine professionals capable of managing our oceans effectively and developing a sustainable Blue Economy.

Marine Institute Employment and Training Programmes

The Marine Institute, similar to other public sector bodies, offers many employment and training programmes across all areas of business, including internships, bursary schemes and work experience/student placements.

The summer bursary scheme is a work experience programme aimed at undergraduates of Universities, Institutes of Technology and National Institutes for Higher Education. The bursary scheme is strictly limited to undergraduates who have completed 2 years study in a relevant discipline. Bursaries are offered for an eight week paid work period during the summer holidays across a range of the Marine Institute’s business areas. Information is circulated in January each year to universities and colleges and the information on each bursary available can be found on the Marine Institute website (from January annually) or speak to your careers officer for further information.


Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) is the national agency with responsibility for training in the seafood sector. For training and education information please visit the BIM website, or take a look at BIM’s dedicated Careers Portal page

Shipping, Maritime Transport & Offshore Services

The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), part of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), is the national centre for education and training for careers in the merchant maritime sector and provides the non-military training needs of the Irish Naval Service (INS). The NMCI offers degree courses in nautical science, marine and plant engineering and a certificate in seamanship.

Courses include:

The 4 year BEng in marine engineering course offered by Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) aims to provide a sound knowledge base of marine engineering. The function of the marine engineer is to operate and maintain the engines, boilers, generators and other systems of ships. Most of the mechanical equipment aboard ship is operated and maintained by marine engineers.


While the offshore energy sector has two distinct sub-sectors there are many overlapping skill sets, e.g., engineering and working offshore, fishermen providing services to the off-shore energy industry. In addition to offshore energy specific education and training other education and training apply such as the marine safety training and marine and environmental scientists.

The one year MSc in Petroleum Geoscience at UCD, which was launched in Sept 2013, offers science graduates a vocational training in the broad range of technical fields associated with the exploration and production of the petroleum industry.

In addition to the formal professional qualifications, specific training and qualification is required by the oil and gas industry before anyone can work on an oil rig. OPITO – Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation – is the skills organisation for the oil and gas industry. Two organisations in Ireland are approved by OPITO to provide training. They are:

  • Effective Offshore in Falcarragh, Co. Donegal and
  • NMCI in association with SEFtec in Ringaskiddy Co. Cork.

The marine renewable energy sub-sector is still an emerging sector and its current skills needs are more for researchers at this point in time until the industry is more developed when it will have a greater need for associate professionals and technicians. With regard to undergraduates the industry prefers students to undertake a traditional/mainstream engineering degree such as mechanical and electrical and then to specialise afterwards.

A taught masters in marine energy was launched by UCC in partnerships with seven other colleges, including Queens University in Belfast, following a consultation of stakeholders by the MRIA (Marine Renewable Industry Association) of the education needs of the industry.

Two SFI (Science Foundation Ireland) funded research centres in Ireland have also been established, namely, the iCRAG (Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences) in UCD and the Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) centre in UCC.

Marine Tourism

There are many routes into marine tourism such as tourism, business, hospitality and catering, and hotel management courses. There are also specific training courses available in outdoor adventure activity tourism, water sports training and certification, boat and engine training and marine and countryside guiding. The 2015 EGFSN study focused on the water based tourism, such as angling, sailing, surfing and adventure centres with a focus on water sports.

Adventure/outdoor activity tourism has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry and many of the education and training boards provide 1yr NFQ level 5 or 3 year NFQ Level 7/8 qualifications in outdoor adventure education.

National governing bodies for water based activities regulate the training, awards and qualifications. The relevant organisations are: the Irish Sailing Association – ISA; the Irish Canoe Union – ICU; and the Irish Surfing Association.

Marine Science & Research

The Marine Institute Cullen Fellowship programme provides research training opportunities for scientists in marine and related disciplines leading to master's and PhD degrees. Set up in memory of Anne Cullen (1958-2013), who made a significant contribution to the work of the Marine Institute over 35 years, the Cullen Fellowship provides fellowships to postgraduates to work on projects relevant to the Marine Institute whilst studying for a higher degree. The fellowships may be offered in all areas of Marine Institute research activity.

More information on the Cullen Fellowships can be found here.

Marine Technology

Marine Technology comprising maritime monitoring, security, surveillance and high-tech products is an emerging area and is the application of technology in the marine environment. The main roles in marine technology include: engineers, software developers, geo-scientists, satellite technicians, environmental scientists and hydrographers. With the exception of hydrography which is directly marine focused all the others have applications outside of the marine area. To work in marine technology an engineer or software developer does not need any specific marine qualification, other than the regulatory safety requirement.

The Irish Maritime and Energy Research Cluster (IMERC) represents a tripartite alliance between UCC, CIT and the Irish Naval Service and aims to become a research and commercial cluster of world standing and to realise Ireland’s potential in the global maritime and energy markets of tomorrow.

Maritime Commerce & Law

The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) provides a number of specific maritime business courses in Ireland. The ICS is the only internationally recognised professional body in the maritime arena and it represents shipbrokers, ship managers and agents throughout the world. It is a major provider of education and training and sets and examines the syllabus for membership, providing the shipping industry with highly qualified professionals.

Courses include:

  • Foundation Diploma in Shipping 
  • Advanced Diploma in Shipping 
  • Professional Qualifying Exams 

These courses are accredited by the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in London. They are suitable for all those involved in the world of shipping e.g. liner trades, port agency, transport, freight forwarding, port operations and shipping finance.

University College Cork (UCC) provides two taught masters courses in maritime-related law, namely the LLM (Environmental and Natural Resources Law) and the LLM (Marine and Maritime Law) respectively.

Marine Biotechnology and Bioproducts

Higher Education Biotechnology degree courses, at both undergraduate and postgraduate (NFQ Levels 7 – 10) are taught in a number of institutions including NUIG (National University of Ireland – Galway), UCD (University College Dublin) and LIT (Limerick Institute of Technology).

Further Course Information

‘A Study of the Current and Future Skills Requirements of the Marine / Maritime Economy to 2020’ published by EGFSN lists numerous education and training courses available in Ireland for individual marine/maritime sub-sectors; the full report can be found on the EGFSN website: available here.


What are the typical routes into this sector?

There are numerous occupations within the marine sector that can be applied for without a third level qualification. However, the industry is quite competitive and those with a further qualification post-secondary school will be at an advantage. If you are passionate about the area that you qualify in, and would like to develop a career in that area, pursuing a higher qualification (Masters, PhD) will only add to your employability.

Another option, rather than moving from an initial qualification to a higher qualification, would be to seek work experience to get a feel for the career and develop further skills in the area. Many companies offer the opportunity of graduate/voluntary work experience programmes/internships and demonstrated work experience in a specific field is a distinct advantage and great for development of skills and knowledge.


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

The industry is quite competitive and those with a further qualification post-secondary school will be at an advantage. Some of the Marine Institute entry-level positions require a minimum of a leaving certificate (or equivalent) qualification, with others requiring a third level certificate/degree.

The course type you should choose will depend on the area of the industry you are interested in. A general Marine Science degree is a broad qualification, which incorporates a number of areas, while for example those that may have a specific interest in hydrography/ geology should seek a more specialist degree.

An overview of the variety of careers and related courses can be found in the Oceans of Opportunity brochure:


What advice do you have for graduates?

As mentioned above the industry is becoming more and more competitive. Many employees of the Marine Institute are qualified to Masters and PhD level. If you are passionate about the area that you have initially qualified in and would like to develop a career in that area pursuing a higher qualification will only add to your employability.

Another option, rather than moving directly back into education, would be to seek work experience to get a feel for the career and develop further skills in the area. Many companies offer the opportunity of graduate/voluntary work experience programmes/ internships – demonstrated work experience in the field is a distinct advantage and great for development of skills and knowledge. On completion of this the option is the always there to then pursue further studies.

Careers advice including volunteering and work experience programmes available in the industry can be found in the Oceans of Opportunity Careers Brochure (pg. 31 - 35):

Click image to read


What advice do you have for career changers?

Those that are looking to make the move into the marine industry should look to initially gain a qualification related to the area they are branching in to.

Within the Marine Institute there has recently been a needs requirement across the majority of the service areas, which included analytical laboratory based positions, fisheries scientists involved in sea based surveys and those with specialist IT capabilities.

Initially, find an area that you are interested in and passionate about, research this career and identify where and how you need to upskill to give yourself the opportunity to get a start.

More information here


What advice do you have for non-Irish nationals?

The Marine sector is highly international in terms of both markets and employment, and so nationality is not a factor. Recently, the Marine Institute has employed staff from a number of countries including Scotland, France, the USA and Greece.

For those that are outside EU countries and require a work permit, a specific recruitment process applies and this is generally only applicable for senior and very specialist positions.


What advice do you have for those wishing to go back to work?

Those that are looking to make the move into the marine industry should look to initially gain a qualification related to the area they are branching in to.

Within the Marine Institute there has recently been a needs requirement across the majority of the service areas, which included analytical laboratory based positions, fisheries scientists involved in sea based surveys and those with specialist IT capabilities.

Initially, find an area that you are interested in and passionate about, research this career and identify where and how you need to upskill to give yourself the opportunity to get a start.

An overview of the variety of careers, related courses and skills required can be found in the Oceans of Opportunity brochure


Meet our People...
"I work with scientific teams from Europe, Canada and the United States on exciting projects like the GO-SHIP transatlantic survey."
Biological Oceanographer
Caroline Cusack
"Once we know where the habitats are we can study the animals that live there."
Marine Biologist and Geoscientist
David O'Sullivan
"I collect sea water samples from different parts of the coast and the deep ocean."
Chemical Oceanographer
Triona McGrath
"I work about 30% outdoors and 70% in the office."
Nephrops Team
Jennifer Doyle
"My favourite part of the job is meeting the scientists and learning all about the different types of interesting surveys they do."
Administration Assistant in RV Ops
Bernie Ní Chongaile

Global Opportunities... header image
Are there overseas opportunities available?

As outlined in the sector overview, the marine industry is a global one with many opportunities to travel and work abroad through careers in offshore services, seafarers & shipping and marine science and research.

The shipping sector also provides many opportunities for seafarers to work overseas due to the expanse of the world’s shipping network and connectivity between countries.

Working in the shipping industry is international, constantly changing and ever evolving. Over 90% of the world's trade is carried by sea, it is the most cost-effective way to move commodities vital to the world's economy.

Shipping companies are always in need of well-qualified administrative staff that are hand-on problem solvers able to cope with all matter of changing conditions. The size of the back-office depends heavily on the type and scope of company operations.

Qualifications required by staff will also vary depending on the type of company, for example, a cruise-liner company needs a multi-disciplinary team and will be as dependent on the in-house accountant with second or third language skills as they are on the Captain, crew and entertainment staff working aboard ship. A container company may need someone with good analytical skills and who is excellent at building business relationships with an international network of contacts.

The career opportunities in the shipping sector are vast, beginning with ports operations and progressing onto maritime law, shipbroking, marine insurance, ship finance, maritime logistics and policy making. 

Also, as previously mentioned, the offshore oil and gas sector is a well-established, global industry. The oil and gas industry relies on a flexible, mobile and international workforce and there are many skilled Irish people working in the oil and gas industry abroad.


Are there opportunities in this sector for non-Irish nationals?

The Marine sector is highly international in terms of both markets and employment, and so nationality is not a factor. Recently, the Marine Institute has employed staff from a number of countries including Scotland, France, the USA and Greece.

For those that are outside EU countries and require a work permit, a specific recruitment process applies and this is generally only applicable for senior and very specialist positions.


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

The ocean is a national asset for Ireland, supporting a diverse marine economy, with vast potential to tap into a €1,200 billion global marine market for seafood, tourism, oil and gas, marine renewable energy, and new applications for health, medicine and technology.

Ireland is also uniquely placed to capitalise on this potential - taking our seabed area into account, Ireland is one of the largest EU states, with exclusive rights over one of the largest sea to land ratios (over 10:1) of any EU State. Our coastline of 7,500km is longer than that of many European countries and yet this is a resource and area for career opportunity that we often overlook.

The Real Map of Ireland

The marine economy comprises well established sectors such as;

  • Marine Manufacturing, Construction and Engineering
  • Marine Science & Research
  • Marine Tourism & Leisure
  • Maritime Commerce
  • Seafood (fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing)
  • Shipping and Maritime Transport

New, emerging sectors of the marine economy are also important and include;

  • Marine Biotechnology and Bioproducts
  • Marine ICT and Technology
  • New emerging sources of energy – marine renewables/ocean energy

A qualification in the marine sector can lead to extensive employment opportunities across a large global market. Marine occupations in areas such as offshore services and seafaring can offer employees exciting opportunities to travel the world and other skills such as technology, engineering, construction, science and research and business development are transferable across a wide range of sectors.


What is the size and scope of the sector?

The ocean surrounding Ireland is vitally important to the Irish economy. According to the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) in NUI Galway, the Irish marine sector has an estimated turnover of €4.5 billion and supports over 30,000 jobs, directly and indirectly. There are many opportunities for a career in the marine economy. Many of the skills are transferable across the different marine sectors, and more widely, numerous skills developed in external sectors are adaptable to the marine sector.

A recent report from the OECD – The Ocean Economy in 2030 (2016) – shows:

  • Global ocean value = €1,200 billion (2.5% GVA)
  • Offshore Oil & Gas = 1/3 of the total global ocean value
  • Maritime tourism and equipment, and ports follow Offshore Oil & Gas as the sectors with the next largest respective proportions of the total global ocean value.
  • Direct Employment = 31 million FTEs



What are the current issues affecting this sector?

Ocean Literacy –The lack of awareness regarding marine opportunities and careers in Ireland is a major issue affecting the sector.

Interdisciplinary Knowledge and Experience – The recent report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs suggests that experience working in multi-disciplinary environments and inter-disciplinary knowledge will be very important for the future of Ireland’s marine economy as more areas of the marine sector are working together on more complex and technical projects.  This requires bringing together professionals from diverse backgrounds – such as engineers, planners and architects with ecologists, biologists, and chemists.


What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years

According to The Ocean Economy in 2030, a recent OECD report looking at the global ocean economy trends and projections to 2030, there is projected ocean value growth across a range of marine sectors. The OECD also anticipate employment in the global marine economy will increase to 40 million FTEs from 31 million FTEs by 2030. The fastest growing areas for ocean value and employment are predicated in the areas of:

  • Aquaculture
  • Offshore wind
  • Port services including shipbuilding and repair
  • Seafood processing

Innovation, science and technology will have a key role to play in the future of the marine economy.

The Irish Government formally set the following national economic targets:

• Double the value of our ocean wealth to 2.4% of GDP by 2030

• Increase the turnover from our ocean economy to exceed €6.4bn by 2020

2020 Growth Scenarios for Our Ocean Wealth

If the targets of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth are achieved, this will create an additional 29,300 jobs (16,100 from the marine sector and 13,200 in the wider economy). The three sectors that will have the largest increase in jobs respectively are shipping & transport, marine tourism, and marine manufacturing, engineering & construction.

This growth is built on a number of EU and national initiatives that are already underway e.g. EU Blue Growth, a new Marine Development Team that will be housed in the Irish Maritime Development Office of the Marine Institute and Maritime Spatial Planning.


Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?

Ireland's Ocean Economy (SEMRU, NUI Galway) 

Turnover and Value Added

  • Turnover = €4.5 billion
  • Top three marine sectors
    • Shipping & Maritime Transport
    • Seafood
    • Marine Tourism & Leisure
  • Emerging Sectors
    • R&D intensive industries (e.g. high-tech marine products & services and ocean energy) have seen substantial increases. In recent years there has been a large increase in gross value added GVA (approximately 90%) within these sectors


Turnover and Value Added by Sector of Ireland's Ocean Economy (SEMRU, NUI Galway)


Employment in Ireland’s Ocean Economy is estimated at 18,480 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs). Furthermore, over 30,000 jobs are supported by the Irish marine, either directly or indirectly. There are a large number of people working in the sector on a seasonal or part-time basis e.g. in the seafood sector direct employment is just over 5,000 FTEs, however, when indirect and seasonal employees are accounted for employment in the sector is closer to 11,000.

  • Top three marine sectors in terms of employment (FTEs):
    • Marine Tourism & Leisure
    • Seafood & Bioresources (Fisheries, Aquaculture, Seafood Processing, Biotech/Seaweed)
    • Shipping & Maritime Transport (including international shipping services

Employment (FTEs) by Sector of Ireland's Ocean Economy (SEMRU, NUI Galway)



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

There are extensive career opportunities in the marine economy, with many of the skills required also being transferable across the different sectors, e.g. fishermen providing services to the offshore energy sector, merchant seafarers finding employment in the ports after their time working at sea. There are also extensive opportunities for graduates with skills in engineering, ICT and across a range of scientific disciplines.

Marine sectors with the greatest skills demand are reported in the seafood, maritime transport, shipbuilding and offshore services, and marine tourism areas.


A Study of the Current and Future Skills Requirements of the Marine/Maritime Economy to 2020.

According to ‘A Study of the Current and Future Skills Requirements of the Marine / Maritime Economy to 2020’ (EGFSN, 2015), certain sectors of the marine and maritime economy are experiencing an ageing of workforce, which will present a skills difficulty unless measures are put in place to attract and upskill younger workers.

While operatives and lower skilled roles are a component of the marine economy, there is evidence of a shift towards more professionals being employed in sectors such as seafood, marine renewable energy and maritime monitoring, where professionals such as engineers are in high demand.

Thinking of a Career Change? 'Marinise' your skills and realise an ocean of opportunity ... 

Many of the occupations and qualifications required for working in the marine economy are either non-technical, e.g., managers, professionals or associate professionals in fields such as law, accountancy and business development, or not specific to the marine economy, e.g., engineering and software development. None of these qualifications are specific to the marine sector, but may be “marinised” – that is, additional training or a ‘top-up qualification’ in a marine context. “Marinisation” applies across the full spectrum of occupations and qualifications such that a mechanical engineer, an electrician or a construction worker can upskill or “marinise” his/her skills and be able to work in a marine or off-shore environment. This upskilling or “marinising” of a skill provides more employment opportunities.

In addition to “marinising” traditional disciplines and training, ICT skills are being recognised as more important areas in maritime education and training as ICT is now so central to all aspects of the economy.



About Us... header image

The Marine Institute is the State agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland.

The Institute carries out environmental, fisheries, and aquaculture surveys and monitoring programmes to meet Ireland’s national and international legal requirements. The Institute provides scientific and technical advice to government to help inform policy and to support the sustainable development of Ireland’s marine resource.

The Marine Institute also carries out research, strategic funding programmes, and national marine research platforms in support of the development of Ireland’s maritime economy.

The Marine Institute has a staff of approximately 200 people employed in areas such as research, science, technology, data management and analytics, international and European affairs, business development, marketing, promotion and public administration. Services are provided to industry, the public and government.

The Marine Institute staff work across a wide range of areas including:

  • Aquaculture
  • Business Development
  • Fish Health
  • Fisheries & Ecosystems
  • Marine Biotechnology
  • Marine Environment
  • Marine technology & Engineering
  • Oceanography
  • Renewable Ocean Energy
  • Seabed Mapping
  • Seafood Safety
  • Shipping, Maritime Services & Ports

For more information visit the Marine Institute website here.

Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO)  

The IMDO, a group within the Marine Institute, is the Irish government agency which provides support to national and international maritime businesses in Ireland. The IMDO provides government and industry with a range of information and reporting across the sector and works with maritime businesses to help them set-up or expand in Ireland. The IMDO is also Ireland’s designated Shortsea Shipping Agency and provides independent advice and guidance on EU funding initiatives.