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 Jack McGovern from An Garda Sí­ochána to give some advice for people considering this job:

Jack McGovern

Garda Trainee

An Garda Sí­ochána

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Jack McGovern
Get a degree in any area that you are interested in. It doesn't have to be directly related to sociology or Law. Apply to become a member of the Garda Reserve Gather life experience by travelling before you join.

The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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At a Glance... header image

Security, Defence & Law Enforcement

Every state needs to protect its citizens. In Ireland, national security, intelligence and law enforcement is the responsibility of the Irish police force - An Garda Síochána.

The Irish Defence Forces - The Army, the Navy and the Air Corp - are entrusted with the task of defending the State from external attack.

Video: Insights into life as a Garda Trainee

Private security also has a significant presence. This multi-faceted industry spans the whole spectrum from the traditional night watchman, right up to the latest developments in physical security measures and cutting-edge electronic technology solutions.

Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Security header image


National security and intelligence is a responsibility of An Garda Síochána. The role of the Security & Intelligence Section is to identify and analyse any threat to the State from terrorists and organised crime gangs. The section is divided into 2 sub-sections dealing with intelligence in relation to both terrorism and organised crime. It supports operational units in the force by providing intelligence leads relative to both areas.

Security & Intelligence is the central point of contact for An Garda Síochána with all external agencies - both law enforcement and security/intelligence - with regard to international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.


Businesses in the private security sector range from small to medium Irish indigenous companies and large multinationals providing security services in areas such as guarding property, cash in transit, event security, alarm installation and CCTV monitoring, security consultancy. 

There are over 27,000 licensed individuals and 800 contractors operating as as private security guards, night club bouncers, hotel and pub doormen, private investigators, installers of security equipment and locksmiths, among other roles.There is a wide range of work available within the private security business. Positions are available for static security persons, who protect and guard banks and premises such as retail stores from the risk of theft, and monitor security surveillance cameras, or cash in transit operatives and install CCTV systems. Other security roles include doormen, door supervisors or bouncers in bars and night clubs, locksmiths and private investigators.

Security personnel need to be in good health and in good physical condition. Security Guards are required to be alert and vigilant at all times. Remaining cool and being able to handle conflict well are attributes that private security companies look for. Much of the work is carried out during anti-social hours as most buildings need to be guarded at night-time.

Training for the Private Security Industry

Until recently, there were no set qualifications required to work in the private security business and most companies trained their own people on the job. The Private Security Authority (PSA) is the statutory body responsibile for licensing and regulating the industry in Ireland. It now sets out the minimum training requirements for persons working as employees in the sector:

Category  Minimum Training Requirement
Security Guard (Static) Guarding Skills QQI Level 4 Minor Award (4N1118) or equivalent.
Door Supervisor (Licensed Premises) Door Security Procedures QQI Level 4 Minor Award (4N1114) or equivalent.
Cash-in-Transit Employer provided prescribed training

Applicants applying to the PSA for their first licence must have obtained the prescribed training within 36 months prior to the lodging of their application. Training undertaken outside the 36 month period will not be acceptable for licensing purposes.

Further information is available on the PSA website - See Information Note on Duration of Qualifications.

The PSA does not run training courses, award qualifications or provide funding for training. Courses are provided by registered training providers validated by QQI. Only courses or programmes validated by QQI are accepted by the PSA.

There are a number of training courses for jobs in the security industry, e.g  Door Security Procedures available through SOLAS. See SOLAS course search.

Further education colleges in several counties also offer Level 5 and Level 6 courses in areas such as Security Studies and Security Operations. A course search is available here. See also 'Education and Training' menu on this page


A Private Investigator conducts investigations into matters on behalf of a client. They may be contracted to obtain or furnish such information as:
  • The personal character, actions or occupation of a person
  • The kind of business in which a person is engaged 
  • To search for missing persons
  • The loss or damage of property.

The regulation of Private Investigators came into effect from the 1st November 2015. Contractors providing any of these services are now required to have a licence, as well as people who provide services as debt collectors, tracing agents, summons servers, loss assessors /adjusters, security consultants or other occupations where part of their activities fall within the new legal definition of private investigation. Full details are available here [PDF].

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Cybersecurity header image

Cybersecurity or information technology security is the area of security that focuses on protecting computers - computer hardware, networks, programmes, data etc. - from unintended or unauthorised access, change or destruction. 

Cybersecurity is not just about computer skills - it also involves mathematics and has a significant legal element to it as well - this is why Cybersecurity professionals often come from other fields - engineering and mathematics for example. The wider the range of knowledge and support in this area, the greater the results. 

This area is constantly evolving and so too are the job titles and related roles. The following are just some of the many titles currently in use in the sector:

  • Information Security Officer
  • IT Security Specialist
  • IT Security Engineer
  • Information Assurance Analyst
  • Forensic Computer Analyst
  • Security Systems Administrator
  • IT Security Consultant
  • Data Security Strategist
  • Application Security Engineer
  • IT Security Lead

Most positions in the cyber security sector require at least a bachelors degree. Employers are seeking to hire employees with proficiency in:

  • Firewalls
  • Network Security
  • UNIX
  • CISA
  • Cryptography
  • Cisco
  • Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
  • System and Network Configuration
  • Scanners

Cybersecurity professionals are needed right now and are much sought after. It will take some years to grow this talent in Ireland, but the process is underway. Most third-level institutions now offer degree courses in Cybersecurity at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Course titles include Computer Forensics and Security, Digital Forensics and Cyber Security at the Institutes of Technology countrywide. 

See 'Education and Training' menu on this page for details of relevant courses cybersecurity.

Global Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

Findings from new survey by Intel Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) have shown that there is a global cybersecurity talent crisis.

The Intel and CSIS report Hacking the Skills Shortage (July 2017) consulted with nearly 1,000 global respondents working for large organisations involved in the cybersecurity sector.

82pc of respondents admitted that there is a shortage of cybersecurity skills, with 71pc saying this lack of talent makes particular organisations more vulnerable to direct attacks.

25pc of those within breached companies revealed that this shortage led directly to the loss of proprietary data, yet respondents estimate an average of 15pc of cybersecurity positions in their company will go unfilled by 2020.

Respondents cited their own governments, for not investing enough in cybersecurity talent.

Based on the findings of the report, Intel and CSIS found four main obstacles:

  • Lack of spending
  • Education and training
  • Employer dynamics and
  • Government policies

Over half of respondents to the survey admitted that cybersecurity is lagging behind other IT fields, citing a lack of training or qualification sponsorship as a common reason for talent departure.

Half of the companies surveyed prefer a bachelor’s degree in a relevant technical subject as the minimum credential required for entry into the field.

Respondents ranked hands-on experience and professional certification as better ways to acquire cybersecurity skills than a degree. Sixty-eight percent also said that hacking competitions (capture the flag exercises) play a role in developing critical cybersecurity skills within their organization.

Among some of the recommendations on how to mend this include redefining what it means to be hired as an entry-level cybersecurity staff member, opening available positions up to people who might not make the requirements today.

"High-value skills are in critically short supply, the most scarce being intrusion detection, secure software development, and attack mitigation. These skills are in greater demand than soft skills in communication and collaboration."

The report also recommends a diversification of the sector with greater opportunities or external training.

Rolling out automation in cybersecurity, as well as collecting attack data to develop better metrics to quickly identify threats are further suggestions. Automation of cybersecurity is being fast-tracked by many cybersecurity researchers, with challenges like DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge highlighting a need for almost instantaneous security in a world where billions of devices are connected as part of the internet of things (IoT).

“A shortage of people with cybersecurity skills results in direct damage to companies, including the loss of proprietary data and IP,” said James A Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at CSIS.

“This is a global problem; a majority of respondents in all countries surveyed could link their workforce shortage to damage to their organisation.”

The full report is available here.

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The Defence Forces header image

Every state needs to protect its citizens. The Irish Defence Forces are entrusted with this task. Their role is to defend the state, aid the civil power participating in United Nations missions overseas and provide a fishery protection service. The Defence Forces may be called on by Government to perform other duties in times of emergency. 

The Defence Force includes the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force.


The Permanent Defence Force (PDF) is made up of:
  • The Army
  • The Air Corps
  • The Naval Service
The main entry routes into the Permanent Defence Forces are entry as a Cadet, a Recruit or through Specialist Competitions that may arise (e.g. Apprenticeship, Musicians, Doctors etc).

There are two rank structures within the Permanent Defence Forces:
Commissioned Ranks - Officers of commissioned ranks enter the army as Officer Cadets or CFRs (Commissioned from the Ranks) and on completion of training receive a Commission from the President of Ireland as a Second Lieutenant in the Army and Air Corps or as an Ensign in the Naval Service. Direct Entry Officers have specialist qualifications and are recruited in a separate competition.

Enlisted Personnel Ranks - Enlisted Personnel join as Recruits or Apprentices and on completion of training become Privates (Ptes) in the Army, Able Seamen in the Naval Service or Airmen / Airwomen in the Air Corps. On qualification they may be promoted to higher non-commissioned ranks. Persons of Corporal rank and higher are known as Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).

Check out the Defence Forces Careers Departmenet here

Army Cadets
are taken on to train as officers. Army Officers are the Managers, Decision makers, and Leaders of the Defence Forces. Cadets or trainee Officers engage in 15 months training in the Military College covering many fields of study before taking up an operational appointment in the Permanent Defence Force.

The Air Corps
An The Air Corps (AC) is the Air Component of The Defence Forces (DF) with its base and headquarters at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel,Co. Dublin.

Air Corps Cadets complete a 21 month course, initially seven months at The Cadet School, Military College, Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare and later at Basic Flying Training Wing, Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Co Dublin. On successful completion of training he/she joins the Commissioned ranks as an Air Corps Officer/Pilot.

As well as entry as a Cadet, the Air Corps offers career opportunities as a Recruit to become a Three Star Airman / Airwoman, or entrance as an Apprentice. Entry in one stream does not mean that the others are not accessible as a number of Pilots began their career in the Defence Forces as Apprentices or as Recruits.
See Information Handbook below for full details of career areas in the Army.

The Naval Service

The Naval Service (NS) is the maritime component of the Defence Forces with its Base and Headquarters located in Haulbowline Co. Cork. The NS is also the principal seagoing agency of the state and is primarily responsible for Maritime Defence and Fishery Protection but also contributes to the State’s Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue and emergency response capability. The NS currently operates 8 modern ships (LE Eithne, Roisin, Niamh, Emer, Aoife, Aisling, Ciara and Orla). There are also four Naval Service Reserve Units in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Dublin.

When Naval Service Cadets are recruited, they enter the Naval School, Naval Base, Haulbowline, Co Cork, for a two-week period where they are introduced to naval life, both ashore and on-board ship. They then join their Army and Air Corps colleagues for joint training in the Cadet School, Curragh Camp for approximately four months before completing their training with the Naval Service in Haulbowline.

The Naval Service offers two types of Cadetships: Operations Branch and Engineering Branch Cadetships. An Operations Branch Cadetship lasts 22 months, while the Engineering Branch Cadetship lasts 24 months.

An Army Equitation Cadet completes a 15 month course at The Cadet School, Military College, Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh Camp, Co Kildare and graduates with an NCEA National Degree in Military Studies and on successful completion of training, joins the commissioned ranks as a Second Lieutenant. They are posted to The Army Equitation School as a riding officer.

For full details of the range of entry requirements for the divisions of the Permanent Defence Forces, see 'Ask the Experts'.

Detailed information on the organistion and rank structure of the defence Forces is available in the Information Handbook.


Recruits in the Permanent Defence Force are required to undergo an initial training period of approximately 16 weeks, during which time they are required to live in barracks. This training includes foot drill, arms drill, field craft, first aid, rifle marksmanship, tactical and physical training. During this stage of training they are also given weapons training on the Steyr Rifle and the General Purpose Machine Gun.

Recruits are taken on as the need arises. You should apply directly to your nearest brigade manpower office or the Defence Force Headquarters when a competition is launched. 

Apprentices and Specialist Competitions

Recruitment of Apprentices to the Defence Forces only occurs as particular needs arise. It is now more common for the Defence Forces to train serving personnel “in-house”.

From time to time, the Defence Forces may recruit other categories of specialists e.g. Musicians for the Defence Forces School of Music (Military Bands) or Engine Room Artificers (Ships Engine Room Technicians). If such competitions are sanctioned, they will be advertised on national press and on

Getting to the Top Ranks - Enlisted Personnel can compete for a Cadetship on an annual basis and are awarded additional bonus marks at interview. Periodically enlisted personnel may follow the CFR route and be commissioned following a separate selection competition and Officer training course.


The Reserve Defence Force (RDF) consists of the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve. The RDF is organised into the First Line Reserve and the Second Line Reserve. The First Line Reserve comprises former members of the Permanent Defence Force and the Second Line Reserve comprises the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve. 

Army Reserve  - The Army Reserve has nine reserve infantry battalions, eighteen combat support and combat service support units and three air defence batteries.

Naval Service Reserve - The Naval Service Reserve has the Eastern Group and the Southern Group. Each group consists of two Companies: Dublin and Waterford in the Eastern Group; Cork and Limerick in the Southern Group.

Did you Know ...
Having been a serving member in the Reserve Defence Forces may help you in your efforts to join the Permanent Defence Forces, as you can gain an extra 10 points on your interview score.

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Law Enforcement header image


Law enforcement is the responsibility of the Irish police force - An Garda Síochána. There are over 13,000 Gardaí in the state police force who are in charge of maintaining all aspects of law and order in the State.

Gardaí get backup support from specialist units within the force including:

  • Air Support Unit
  • Mounted Unit
  • Water Unit
  • Fingerprint Unit
  • Photographic Unit
  • Mapping Unit
  • Ballistics Unit
  • Technical Support Services
  • The National Bureau of Fraud Investigation
  • Criminal Assets Bureau
  • Garda National Drugs Unit
  • Garda National Immigration Bureau

These specialist sections offer Gardaí lots of opportunity for advancing and specialising within the force.

[Detailed information is available in the Garda Síochána Employer Insights]

An understanding of team-work, an ability to communicate with people, a facility for problem-solving and a potential for resolving conflict are the key skills required to become a successful Garda. Selection is done by recruitment and aptitude test and those who reach the interview stage of the Garda recruitment process are tested for competency in the areas of planning and preparation, community orientation, achieving high standards, decision making, persuading others and taking charge.

You need to be aged between 18 and 34 to be eligible to apply to the Garda Siochána. Everyone must be in good mental and physical health. There is also a written assessment, which is conducted by the Public Appointments Office.

The 2018 Recruitment Campaign for Garda Trainees opened for applications on 17th May 2018. 

Application to An Garda Síochána is through Those interested in applying can register for notification of the next campaign.

Training comprises a total of three years based in Templemore which includes study (2-year BA in Applied Policing D-157) and supervised practical work at selected Garda stations. The college also has a BA in Police Management for superintendent rank upwards.

Full details of entry requirements, including education requirements, are available here from An Garda Síochána ~ See How we recruit in 'Our Opportunities' section.

NoteEntry requirements and procedures for any new Garda recruitment campaigns may differ from past campaigns - always the check the latest campaign guidelines

For more information on the Garda Reserve click here.

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The Prison Service header image


The Irish Prison Service is responsible for providing and maintaining a safe, secure and humane environment for the confinement of all persons committed to prison in accordance with law. It is a key component in our country's criminal justice system ensuring safer community life.

Overview of the Irish Criminal Justice System

There are 14 institutions in the Irish Prison System. 11 of these are traditional "closed" institutions, two are open centres, which operate with minimal internal and perimeter security, and one is a “semi-open" facility with traditional perimeter security but minimal internal security (the Training Unit).

The majority of female prisoners are accommodated in the purpose built "Dóchas Centre" in Dublin with the remainder in Limerick Prison.

The Prison Service aims to manage custodial sentences in a way that encourages and supports prisoners in their endeavours to live law abiding and purposeful lives as valued members of society. The responsibilities and functions of the Prison Service are to: 

  • Operate an efficient, effective and humane prison system.
  • Keep in custody those committed by the  courts and provide an appropriate level of security.
  • Maintain good order and control throughout  the prison system.
  • Treat those in custody with care and dignity and ensure they have facilities for the promotion of their well-being.
  • Encourage the rehabilitation of prisoners  and to prepare them for release.
  • To facilitate prisoners in maintaining links with family and community.

At end of 2014 there were 3,380 staff in the Irish Prison Service including civilian grades and headquarters staff.

Video: The Irish Prison Service - Careers Information

Getting into the Irish Prison Service

The Recruit Prison Officer (RPO) is the entry level job role in the Service. RPOs complete an accredited two year Higher Certificate in Custodial Care programme at The Irish Prison Service College, which is located in Portlaoise and provides all training within the Irish Prison Service. The majority of this time will be spent on work placement in prisons.

Following the successful completion of 3 years service including probation, the Recruit Prison Officer will be appointed as an Established Prison Officer.

Progression route Assistant Chief Officer, Chief Officer (Grade 1 &2), Assistant Governor, Deputy Governor and Governor.
The Prison Service also employs welfare workers, teachers, chaplains, doctors and psychologists.

Generally, the Irish Prison Service works with the Public Appointments Service to recruit staff to the Service. Employment opportunities will be advertised on the Irish Prison Service website and on the Public Appointments Service website.

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Useful Links header image
Total Records: 17
Full Address
Phone Number
Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dubin 8
(01) 666 0000
Unit 2J Ard Gaoithe Business Park Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Civil Defence HQ, Benamore, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary
(0505) 25310
Defences Forces Headquarters, Ceannt Bks., Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare
(045) 445 306
Station Road, Newbridge, Co. Kildare
(045) 492 000
51 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2
(01) 602 8202
Blackhall Place, Dublin 7
(01) 672 4800
The Custom's House, Dublin, 1.
(01) 888 2000
Irish Coast Guard HQ, Dept. Transport, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2
(01) 662 0922
12 Carthusian Street, London, EC1M 6EZ
(0044) 741 72800
IDA Business Park, Ballinalee Road, Longford, Co. Longford
(043) 333 5100
18 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
(01) 662 5495
Chapter House, 26/30 Abbey St. Upr, Dublin 1
(01) 858 7400
Henrietta St, Dublin 1
(01) 874 4840
92 Taney Cresent , Goatstown, Dublin, 14
(01) 298 6614
Davis Street, Tipperary Town, Co. Tipperary
(062) 31 588

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