I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.
I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.
But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould). However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.
Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be drawn towards the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.
Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
Qualified and part qualified accountants continue to be in demand, particularly in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and energy industries, as are accountants with experience in insolvency and forensics. There is also a steady demand for compliance and risk professionals.
Accounting Technicians are in short supply and a new apprenticeship model has been introduced in an effort to address this.
The National Skills Bulletin reported skills shortages for the finance sector in the areas of Risk, Regulatory Compliance, Accounting (solvency, financial management, multilingual technicians), Fraud, and Credit control. The EGFSN reiterates shortages for niche and specialist roles including:
Accountants and auditors with skills in tax, compliance, solvency, and financial management, as well as specific industry experience, including banking and manufacturing
Finance and investment analysts (niche areas, financial securities)
Ref: Guidance for Higher Education providers on current and future skills needs of enterprise - Springboard 2014/ICT Level 8 Conversion Programme, EFGSN, February 2014. Click here to view the report.
Occupations in Demand
Employers indicate that there is a shortage of workers in the following occupations in this sector at the moment.
Accountants work with every type of organisation from the newest tech start-up, to the oldest bank, from the smallest local business to the largest multinational conglomerate - all need financial experts to serve and advise them on their business. Careers and occupations in this sector have a focus on the financial activities of organisations towards helping clients to improve profits.
Taxation is a cornerstone of every business transaction and every commercial decision that is made. The ongoing growth in the international dimension of business in Ireland requires knowledge of overseas tax jurisdictions, as well as the domestic taxation environment.
The job of an Accountant is to help businesses to achieve their targets by providing information on finance, business performance and progress, and to ensure that the individual or company is in compliance in important areas such as Taxation, Company Returns and Contractual Obligations etc.. The accountant will assess the client's income and outgoings, look at the financial dealings of the company and advise accordingly.
Accountants are not only found in the business environment. They work in a wide range of organisations from charities and government bodies, to sporting organisations. This means that people who qualify to work in this field have wide range of opportunities to choose from across the sectors - for example, if you are the kind of person who sees yourself working for a charitable organisation rather than in the corporate sector, you can serve as an important advisor, ensuring that the charity gets the best use of its money and that charitable status is maintained, by preparing and issuing required documents in good time.
Opportunities to work in a wide variety of sectors, excellent remuneration and relative job security, make a career in accountancy an attractive choice. It is estimated that there are over 2.5 million accountants worldwide. In Ireland, demand for accountants in all areas continues to flourish, and there is currently a shortage of qualified accountants.
Accountancy with a language is increasingly attractive to employers, especially in the thriving International Financial Services Sector.
Getting into Accountancy and Finance - Video presentation ~ Accounting Technicians Ireland
Accounting and Financial Management is at the core of all business activity. There can be a degree of overlap between the different professions, but the sector can be broadly divided into those firms that provide advice and accounting services to a range of clients in the public and private sector (this area has traditionally been called private practice), and those working in one particular organisation, either in industry or commerce, the public sector, privatised industries or the health service.
Getting into Accountancy
As a trainee or unqualified accountant, you would typically work for a firm of Accountants (Financial Accounting) or perhaps in the accounting department of a company (Management Accounting). While continuing to work, you would join one of the professional bodies and complete your professional accountancy exams over a period of time.
There are five main professional routes to choose from:
Accounting Technician - Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) is a popular study route while also being a highly relevant qualification. The Diploma for Accounting Technicians programme is delivered in approximately 70 colleges around the country. Accounting technicians go on to work as qualified accounting professionals in the public sector, industry, commerce and private accountancy practices.
Accounting technicians are involved in the day-to-day practical work of accountancy, including the preparation of information and accounts, budgeting, costing and credit control. While not technically accountants, accounting technicians often perform many of the same functions and are qualified to take accounts beyond trial balance stage, as well as prepare full financial accounts.
Did you know ... There is now a New Apprenticeship route to becoming an Accounting Technician that is open to school-leavers. Check it out here
Chartered Accountant -Chartered Accountants Ireland is the largest accountancy body in Ireland and the biggest educator of professional accountancy students in Ireland.
Chartered accountants work across an array of business activities and sectors. They provide professional financial services to businesses, such as auditing, taxation, accounting, consulting, financial analysis, recovery and risk management advice, and work in diverse roles in every sector.
How to become a Chartered Accountant
The Chartered Accountancy qualification can be obtained through a number of routes and is open to graduates, post-graduates accounting technicians and school leavers. Like any profession, the path to qualification is not easy and requires a high level of dedication. But the rewards that qualified Chartered Accountants generate in terms of career satisfaction, salaries and advancement, are remarkable.
The first decision you'll need to make is whether to train under a training contract - this is often a small medium or large accountancy practice, or, via the flexible option - independent of a training contract in any sector or industry.
Becoming a Chartered Accountant involves a combination of academic training and professional experience. Students generate the required level of experience working full time while studying part time. Most students train in practice, having secured a training contract. There is always a competitive element in gaining these training places so the flexible option is another route to qualifying.
Promotional Video ~ Chartered Accountants Ireland
Management Accountant - The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is the third largest professional accounting body. CIMA members are trained to understand all aspects of the business so that they can make and support key decisions and manage risk. Management accountants are also expected to be able to effectively analyse business decisions and strategies, apply their accounting expertise to budgetary planning, and generally being able to communicate their accounting information to nonfinancial managers. Management Accountants may go on to achieve senior positions as Strategic Managers in both public and private sector organisations.
For those already pursuing a business or financial qualification, there are a number of routes to attaining the CIMA qualification. These include a blended learning approach, developed to facilitate online and distance learning; a fast-track route for MBA holders and a one-year full-time MSc in Strategic Management Accounting, offered by UCD Smurfit School in conjunction with CIMA. CIMA has partnered with a number of professional organisations to offer tailored routes into the CIMA qualification, which take account of their members’ existing qualifications. There are nine exam centres across the country for students sitting the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting (CBA) exams. This qualification is an excellent grounding for non-finance graduates and professionals wishing to upskill.
Financial Accountant - The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global professional body for accountants that trains and develops finance professionals. This qualification equips individuals for a range of finance roles, from audit to tax. It has a broad base in finance and accountancy with courses designed to provide the skills and knowledge relevant to any business, so individuals are free to choose which type of accountancy role and organisation they want to work for. Some 44% of ACCA members in Ireland are currently working in the corporate sector, with almost 20% in financial services and over 20% working in public practice.
Financial accountants develop skills in areas such as financial management, corporate reporting, management accounting, audit and assurance and taxation.
Certified Public Accountant - The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA). CPAs can be found in every sector, from healthcare, financial services and education, tech and gaming. And they are not simply crunching numbers either - holding diverse roles at senior management level, from managing partners to chief financial officers, chief executives and entrepreneurs.
Graduates of business or accounting degrees or those with existing qualifications will be offered exemptions. As well as completing exams, CPA students must undertake three years of relevant training under the supervision of a qualified accountant.
Although it is still possible to join straight from school, more and more students are opting into accountancy from graduate level, typically by taking a third level course in Business/Finance and then specialising in Accountancy.
Specialist Accountancy Areas
Forensic Accountant - A forensic accountant provides accounting skills in civil and criminal cases, and in non-legal related investigations. This is a much-specialised area of accountancy involving a variety of skills from core accountancy skills such as financial reviews and calculation of loss of earnings to conducting interviews, assisting with the Discovery process, preparing expert witness reports and giving evidence in court. Chartered Accountants Ireland offer a Diploma in Forensic Accounting for members
Forensic Accountants require a very specific skill set such as information gathering, attention to detail, information preservation, investigating potential fraud, dispute resolution, issues arising in family law and understanding legal processes. This ensures they can advise their clients on the consequences of certain actions and ultimately produce a report to their client or to the courts if required.
Forensic Accountants can be engaged in public practice or employed by insurance companies, banks, police forces, government agencies and other organisations. They are commonly retained to analyse, interpret, summarise and present complex financial and business related issues in a manner which is both understandable and properly supported.
The taxation sector in Ireland has experienced significant growth in recent years. The favourable corporate tax regime available to businesses in Ireland, together with the complexity of tax laws and the fact that they apply to every area of business, means that most companies employ tax specialists. The importance of the EU to the Irish economy has also created many opportunities to work abroad in this field.
Video presentation ~ Irish Tax Institute
Although one of the smallest fields in finance, taxation is the cornerstone of every business transaction and commercial decision and as such there is an ever growing demand for outstanding tax consultants particularly for those with proven advisory skills. The constantly growing international dimension to all areas of business in Ireland means that knowledge of overseas tax jurisdictions is increasingly sought after.
Taxation is a constantly changing discipline – one of the tax consultant’s greatest challenges is to stay abreast of domestic and international development and to translate these into opportunities for clients or the organisations they work for. As Ireland’s tax regime operates on a self-assessment basis, there is a strong demand for quality taxation advice.
Tax consultancy is one of the fastest growing and best-rewarded professions in Ireland. Qualified tax advisers are recruited by:
Major taxation/accountancy firms
Major financial institutions
All the major legal firms
Larger quoted companies
Multinational corporations located in Ireland
Many government departments
Tax advisers can also join or establish smaller consultancy firms. Taxation courses ranging from one-year technician courses to three-year professional qualifications are available. The main qualification is the AITI, achieved by passing the Irish Tax Institute examinations. This can be pursued full-time, at night or through home study.
For more detail on a career in Taxation see Sector Expert - The Irish Tax Institute.