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 Brian Kelly from BioPharmachem Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:

Brian Kelly

Science Entrepreneur

BioPharmachem Ireland

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Brian Kelly
Go for it!  But realise that its not going to be easy and things take time and there are LOTS of sacrifices to make. Also make sure you learn from your mistakes - because you will make them. It is really only a mistake if you don't learn from it.

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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At a Glance... header image

Computers & ICT

Technology is driving change across all industry sectors making computer skills essential assets for all workers. Even if the career you choose does not focus solely on computers, the job you do will most likely require the use of computers and technology to accomplish tasks and process information.

There are now over 5,000 technology companies located in Ireland, ranging from start-ups and SMEs, to large international and multinational companies, with an ever-growing number of Irish-owned multinationals, and numerous career paths and related job opportunities. 

Would you like to work in Technology? Check out these great options just for starters ... Click to view full size image

Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Software & Programming header image

Software and Programming are central to the computer industry.  In order to function, a computer needs information about its task and it needs to be programmed to do what you want it to. This is the software.

Ireland is Europe’s premier location for software development. There are over 730 indigenous software companies, employing over 10,000 people. Since the 1980s, leading US software vendors, including Microsoft, Oracle and Symantec, have based their European operations centres in and around Dublin.

Eight of the world's top 10 software companies have established a significant presence in Ireland. Traditional players with long-established operations, such as Intel, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Apple, have been joined by newer firms at the forefront of the internet and social media revolution: 
Google; Facebook; LinkedIn; Amazon; PayPal; EBay, and most recently Twitter, firmly positioning Ireland as the internet capital of Europe.

Ireland is the second largest exporter of software in the world. 

the following are just some of the many occupations that can be found in this area:  

  • Software Development - This is the process of developing software to meet the requirements of the end users (the customers). This would include roles such as the Systems Analyst - individuals who analyse and design software systems that meet requirements. Programmers and Developers are involved in writing the code or instructions that tell the computer what tasks to carry out. Programmers need to learn the computer languages (e.g. C++, Java, COBAL) which are used to develop software, and because there are many languages, and they keep getting more powerful, students and workers in this area need to constantly keep up with the latest developments.
  • Software Engineering - These roles combine experience in computer science, engineering, and maths to design, define, and organise many aspects of a complex software product.
  • Quality Assurance & Testing - Every piece of software that is written must be tested extensively, and this requires the work of QA engineers.
  • Technical Writing - Technical writers are professional writers who design, create, maintain and update many types of technical documentation, online help, user guides, white papers, design specifications, and other documents. Involves the writing of computer manuals for the customers of new computer software
  • Technical Support - Support that is given to the computer hardware or software user from the manufacturer of the equipment or developer of the software. This includes help in installing and using the products.
  • Database Management: The people who design and maintain databases of all sizes.
  • Web Design - The design of websites for businesses and organisations
  • Project Management - Just about all software design involves complex projects that need to be managed. IT Project managers are the people in charge of delivering a project on time and within budget.
  • Marketing and Sales - The research and promotion, advertising and sales of computer products.
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
Computer & Software 
Engineering Life
Computer and Software Engineering

See also Sample Occupations in the menu on this page.
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Hardware & Manufacturing header image

Hardware and Manufacturing is a significant sub-sector of the computer industry. The hardware is all the machinery and equipment, the nuts and bolts of a computer and its add-ons such as a printer, scanners and speakers.

ICT Hardware includes the manufacturing of semi-conductors, integrated circuits, computer hardware, peripherals and storage devices. There are upwards of 27,000 people employed in this area in Ireland.

Ireland is a leading European centre for the manufacturing and assembly of computer parts. Key players such as IBM, Hewlett Packard and Dell have manufacturing facilities here and are involved in the design and production of components used in computers all around the world. Intel and AMD are engaged in the manufacture of in semiconductors.

Computer hardware starts in the research and development (R&D) departments of manufacturing companies. Teams of engineers (mechanical, electronic, electric, manufacturing, CAD, software etc) work to design, test and produce the latest components. When a product is found to satisfy a market need, manufacturing processes are developed to produce the finished product. In complex products, like a PC, multiple parts must be assembled to precise specifications. 

Work in this area spans the R&D work carried out by highly qualified engineers, scientists and technicians to those who work in the final assembly and packaging of the products (PCs, printers, scanners, webcams etc). Because of the range of opportunities that exist, people of all ages and educational experience can be found in this sector.

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Telecommunications header image

Telecommunications is about the transmission of information (data) across a range of channels from methods such as a coax cableoptical fiber, or free space, by electronic means.

The simplest form of telecommunications takes place between two stations. Today, multiple transmitting and receiving stations can exchange data among themselves through a telecommunications network.

The Internet is the largest example of such a network. Smaller scale networks include:
  • Business and academic wide-area networks (WANs)
  • Telephone networks
  • Police and fire communications systems
  • Taxi dispatch networks
  • Amateur radio operators
Data is conveyed through a telecommunications circuit using an electrical signal (the carrier or carrier wave). In order for a carrier to convey information, some form of modulation is required. The mode of modulation can be analog or digital.

The oldest form of analog modulation is amplitude modulation (AM), still used in radio broadcasting at some frequencies.

The earliest form Digital modulation was Morse code. During the 1900s, dozens of new forms of modulation were developed and deployed, particularly during the so-called "digital revolution" when the use of computers among ordinary citizens became widespread.

In some contexts, a broadcast network, consisting of a single transmitting station and multiple receive-only stations, is considered a form of telecommunications. Radio and television broadcasting for example.

Telecommunications and broadcasting worldwide are overseen by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations (UN) with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Most countries have their own agencies that enforce telecommunications regulations formulated by their governments. In Ireland, that agency is the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The Minister for Communications has overall responsibility for national policy and regulation of both telecommunications and broadcasting.

The technological changes that have taken place in modern telecommunications, from blogging to pod-casting, video streaming and  SMS messaging, are all possible because of the work of Telecommunications Engineers in providing the methods to transmit and receive data. 

The transmission of data is changing the way we live and this makes telecoms an exciting, challenging, and constantly evolving area of ICT to work in.

People are moving from communications used in a fixed environment, to communications on the move, wherever they are. Engineers must meet the constant challenges of customer demand, but also stay one step ahead to predict and produce new technology that will compete in the marketplace.

Telecommunications Engineers plan, design, implement and monitor communication systems and services. They work with microprocessor and computer systems, optics and fibre optic cabling, transmission and switching technologies, radio communications and signal processing.

This area of engineering also deals with the collection and processing of remotely sensed data from satellite and GPS, aircraft and ship radars. It also links in with biomedical engineering on development areas such as speech synthesis and recognition systems.

Telecommunications Technicians install, repair and maintain telecommunications equipment. Technicians are currently in big demand in the mobile technology sector in particular.

Visit the Sample Occupations menu of this page to explore related career paths.

With advances in IT and cloud computing, the increasing number of 'intelligent' machines, and the advent of the Internet of Things, the traffic on telecommunications networks is expected to skyrocket. At the same time, hardware costs are falling and more open-source software is available, leading to major changes in how IT networks are designed and operated.

Software-defined networks (SDNs) are networks of equipment that seperate hardware (i.e. forwarding IP packets) from software (the control plane that carries signaling traffic for routing through devices on the network) and, instead of executing such software in the equipment itself, it is executed either in the cloud, or in clusters of distributed IT servers.

In today’s networks, most management operations are carried out by people. But, SDNs are going to change that by automating many processes to reduce human input and the mistakes that can be made. With those changes, IT professionals will need new skills.

These people are going to be on the front lines where SDNs are designed, operated, and managed. They will also be implementing policies that increase performance and troubleshooting programs that go awry. The IT and network engineers of the future will need to acquire a “systemic” mind-set aimed at integrating design and operations in data centers and telecommunications networks, as the border between the two domains blurs. These data engineers will be in charge of enabling successful SDN deployment. 

The Third Platform

This is all due to the fact that the global ICT industry is in the midst of a "once every 20-25 years" shift to a new technology platform. This new platform (the "Third Platform") is expected to dominate the market by 2020.

The Third Platform is characterised by:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Rapidly increasing numbers of Mobile Devices
  • Big Data analytics
  • The use of Social Technologies in the business environment
  • The need for IT Security
  • The 'Internet of Things'
  • Micro and Nano Electronics

This wave of ICT innovation is driving demand for new ICT skills and abilities. The ICT sector needs people who can design, develop and deploy new applications and services. It also needs people with new combinations of skills, for example, Big Data requires a combination of skills, such as technology, statistics and business skills; Social Media needs a combination of technology and marketing skills.

The ICT Industry's Evolution to the Third Platform for Growth:

Social media technologies are a key part of this emerging Third Platform. The number of intelligent devices at the basis of the Internet of Things will soon outnumber traditional computing devices by two to one. This significantly affects the way people think about interacting with each other, and with devices on the network, putting networking in a key position going forward.

The key area where social media is affecting skills demand is in Digital Marketing and PR. Businesses are battling to extend their marketing campaigns from the traditional media, across to social media.

Social data is by its nature, in the cloud, so experience of cloud service management, orchestration, and supplier relations will be in demand.

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Gaming & Media header image

Ireland's gaming and media industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in IT and its history goes back way further than you might think.

Atari first opened a plant in Tipperary in 1979, manufacturing 2,000 cabinets a month for games like Gauntlet and Marble Madness until 1998. One of the earliest known games studios, Emerald Software, was based in Waterford - it was founded in 1988 and made ports of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker for the Commodore 64 and MSX among other 8-bit platforms before shutting down in 1991.

The games development industry here is slowly growing in size. Our worldwide reputation for creativity and communication is fuelling the interest of gaming companies. In fact, the Irish Digital Games Market currently equates to between 6% and 12% of the total UK Games Market. Big Fish, EA, Havok, DemonWare, PopCap, Zynga, Riot Games and Jolt all have a significant presence here.

Games Industry survey findings show 3,344 people working in the sector in Ireland across 75 companies - 61 indigenous companies and 3 indigenous international companies employed 872 people. An additional 14 foreign-owned companies employ almost 2,472 staff.

A follow-up survey conducted showed that, despite a reduction in investment by three international companies in the sector and the closure of one:
  • An additional 11 indigenous development companies and one middleware company have been initiated, with 59 jobs identified;
  • One international company has announced an increase of 300 new jobs;
  • An indigenous company is projecting a further 100 jobs for the future.

The government has identified digital games as a target with particularly high potential for jobs growth (2,500 within 3 years), in a global industry predicted to be worth $82 billion by 2015.

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Internet of Things header image

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network that connects any object with the Internet via radio frequency identification (RFID), infrared sensors, GPS, laser scanners and other information sensor equipment, for information exchange and communication. It is used for intelligent identification, positioning, tracking, monitoring, and management.

By the end of 2013, the number of installed intelligent communicating devices on the network outnumbered "traditional computing" devices by almost 2 to 1 globally. This is changing the way people think about interacting with each other and with devices on the network.

By the end of 2015, there will be over 3.5 billion connected industrial products, including cars, planes, and boats, appliances/toys, and entertainment devices connected to and communicating over the Internet. These devices will have the ability to share information about their "state" in terms of the need for service, availability for use, time of arrival etc.

Microblogging and location/mapping will emerge as ways for consumers to manage their relationship with the devices and objects they use on a daily basis. Currently, IoT solutions are mostly deployed to address issues around supply chain and product/asset tracking and location in such industries as utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing, retail,
healthcare, and logistics. Going forward, IoT solutions have the potential to create smart environments spanning across different industries (smart cities, smart energy, smart transport, smart buildings, smart health, smart manufacturing, smart retail, etc.).

Mobile Devices and Consumerisation

Consumer spending is driven by the huge number of mobile smart devices on the market. Consumerisation is where mobile solutions are being used in the business environment. All the big players such as Microsoft, Google, Ebay, Symantec and Amazon have bases in Ireland.

Mobility includes: Mobile Devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.); Mobile Software (including mobile device management, mobile application platform and mobile applications); the related IT Professional Services and mobile Telecom Services. It is estimated that the sale of smart devices globally, including smartphones and tablets, will grow by about 25% a year globally over the next three years, compared with a PC market where no growth is projected.

Employees are increasingly bringing their own personal devices (hence the term Bring-Your-Own-Device or BYOD) into the workplace and using Web 2.0 social applications (such as FacebookTwitterLinkedInDropBoxEverNotes, etc.) as part of their work processes. The trend is gaining momentum to the extent that a new set of ICT and managerial skills is now required.

Security is one of the key challenges of mobility, so enhanced ICT security skills will also be high in demand going forward.

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Big Data header image

Big Data is one of the fastest growing areas of computing and Ireland has become the European data centre location of choice for world leaders including IBMMicrosoft, GoogleYahooMSN and Adobe, and is now poised to become a global cloud centre of excellence.

Up to this, the type of data generated has been 'structured data' – from financial institutions, bank accounts, and big institutions. Today we have unstructured data – the type of data being generated by social media, mobile phones for example.

Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being created! 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere:

  • From the sensors used to gather climate information
  • From posts to social media sites
  • From digital pictures and videos
  • From purchase transaction records
  • From mobile phone GPS signals - to name but a few

This data is big data and it is already hugely relevant to daily life.

Today, it is users who are creating data, in particular, mobile data. The amount of data continues to grow rapidly and all that data not only needs to be managed and stored securely, it also needs to be indexed and made accessible so that it can be used efficiently. 

The management of data is big business now, and it will continue to grow as long as more and more devices, technologies and services harvest more and more information from society. Just as most people would not have the patience to wait a few days for a Google search to return the results they want, there is no point in storing these reams of data if they can't be accessed again, and quickly! This is where new sector developments come in.

Data Scientists, Data Analysts, Data Governance Managers - these are the people required to do this job and these are the new job roles emerging to meet this need - people who can understand and provide meaning to the piles and piles of data — the tons of information about customers, products, and habits, that may one day help people sell advertising, build better gadgets and products, or even save lives.

The role of the traditional statistician has been reborn with Big Data. Their analytical and statistical skills, together with some level of business understanding, go together to create the data scientist - someone who brings the data together from diverse datasets and then explores it to find patterns, trends and insights, and then applies what they have learned to the organisation. Data scientists need good communication skills to explain the implications of their findings to business executives. 

Between now and 2020, the data scientist career path is projected to increase by almost 20%, beaten only by the demand for video game designers. The big data industry is expected to be a 53.4 billion industry by 2016. The newest technology involved in Big Data is Hadoop, an open source processing framework. Hadoop skills are in short supply and experience of building, implementing, and managing Hadoop environments are even rarer.

People with skills that marry business acumen, with the technical aspects of data analytics will be in high demand across industry sectors.

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Cloud Computing header image

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service, using processing power and storage of data on computers and data centres based elsewhere, away from the users own premises.

This is made possible because shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over a network (typically the Internet).

Simply put, users can now do more with less equipment, and are getting access to more computing power, whilst reducing the costs of their IT investment. Google, YouTube, Gmail, DropBox and SalesForce are all examples of cloud computing usage.

There are three main types of cloud computing currently in use:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) - is where you use a complete software application that is running on someone else's server. For example, you can use Google Docs to create and store text documents, presentations and spreadsheets.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - is where you buy hardware facilities, such as online storage, that you use over the net. Hosting of a website is an example of IaaS.  You pay a monthly fee to a hosting company, and they serve up the files for your website from their servers.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) - is where you can create applications using web-based tools, but they run off both systems software and hardware provided by another company.  For example, e-commerce websites where you can go shopping online - the whole thing, including the shopping cart, checkout and payment mechanism - can be running on a merchant's server.

Cloud Computing is a key evolving technology and has been identified by the Irish Government as a priority area for investment and job creation. It is estimated that the development and adoption of cloud technology worth €9.5 billion to the Irish economy, generating up to 20,000 jobs. Funding of €1.2 million was provided this year towards making Ireland a world leader in cloud computing, to support the establishment of a Cloud Computing Technology Research Centre to be based at DCUAthlone IT and NUI Cork.

Cloud will give rise to the need for a wealth of new applications to be designed and developed, and in turn, to the need for the appropriate skills to develop them.

There are many new courses in cloud computing coming on stream as a result of skills shortages in the ICT Sector and the numerous job opportunities in the current climate: 

  • DBS run a three year Honours Degree in Digital Marketing with Cloud Computing
  • Cork IT and WIT offer a HDip in Cloud Computing
  • Athlone IT offer Software Design with Cloud Computing
Applications for conversion programmes in Cloud Computing for unemployed graduates are made through
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IT Security header image

Business and organisations are increasingly dependent on ICT for communication outside a “protected” internal, organisation-only environment. This makes them more vulnerable to deliberate or accidental security breaches. As a result, IT security technology and skills are in big demand.

It is estimated that spending on IT security products is around €25 billion globally, and growing at more than 7% a year. 

There are three main areas of ICT security:

  • Identity and access management (IAM) - solutions used to identify users in a system and control their access to resources within that system by associating user rights and restrictions with the established identity.
  • Secure content and threat management (SCTM) - products to defend against viruses, spyware, spam, hackers, intrusions, and the unauthorised use or disclosure of confidential information.
  • Security and vulnerability management -  solutions that focus on allowing business and organisations to determine, interpret, and improve their risk position.

Skills in designing, implementing and operating security solutions as well as formulating and implementing security policies and procedures, are currently in demand and will continue to be in demand going forward.

In addition, monitoring technology (e.g. scanning for malware and other suspicious activity), content classification, content filtering, and data loss prevention tools will be vital in protecting against hacking.

Trends such as mobile technology, cloud and social networking increase an organisation's interaction with customers, staff, suppliers, partners and other parties. At the same time, it increases their vulnerability to cyber attack.

The demand for security technologies and skills in IT security is evolving into a need for complex, context-aware protection.

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