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 Dr Jan Steiner from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:

Dr Jan Steiner


Health Service Executive

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Dr Jan Steiner
Try and get as much practical experience before entering the job as possible.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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At a Glance... header image

Civil & Public Service, Local Government, Politics & EU

Public services are essential to the functioning of the economy and of society. However, countries do not run themselves - they need to be managed. This management takes place through the Public Service, under the direction of public policy.

The centralised provider of recruitment, assessment and selection services for the Civil and Public Service is A wide variety of roles are offered across a range of career areas, including Local Government,  IT, education, health, finance, legal, foreign affairs, emergency services and many more.

There are opportunities to work nationwide with many Government offices based throughout Ireland. In some cases there may be opportunities to work abroad.


Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Civil & Public Service header image

The Civil and Public Service is made up of the various departments and offices which provide services for and on behalf of the Government.

There is a great range of opportunities in the Public Service. Clerical, administrative, management, technical and specialist staff all have significant roles to play.

You could have the opportunity to contribute to, and be actively involved in, projects that have a real impact on varying aspects of Irish society and culture. From technological advancements, including the inventive use of social media or apps, right through to the cutting edge developments taking place across sectors including finance, healthcare, education and agriculture, the Public Service is a broad and fertile arena for creativity and innovation.

Jobs are available at different levels in the Civil Service and titles include: Clerical Officer (CO); Executive Officer (EO); Administrative Officer (AO)/Third Secretary; Assistant Principal (AP); Principal Officer (PO), Assistant Secretary and Secretary General.

The following chart gives a good indication of the typical grade structures for the Civil Service:

Information on specific grades and roles will be available at the time of specific campaigns to fill roles.

Professional and Technical positions

There is also a wide range of professional and technical positions in the Civil Service, the wider Public Service and Local Authorities, including:
  • Accountancy/Audit
  • Agricultural Science
  • Architecture
  • Barrister
  • Chemistry and Applied Science
  • Engineering
  • Inspector
  • Law Clerk
  • Marine Biologist
  • Planner
  • Psychologist
  • Scientist
  • Solicitor
  • Veterinary Surgeon
The dedicated graduate section on offers more information for graduates seeking information about career opportunites in the Civil and Public Service. 

Given the widely diverse and influential nature of the Public Service, it holds the promise of varied, dynamic and exciting work opportunities for graduates of diverse expertise, interests and talents.

What competencies does the Public Appointments Service look for?

To explore the particular competency model for each job role click image.


Jobs across the Civil and Public Service are advertised on, with many also advertised via on Facebook, @publicjobsie on Twitter and - Public Appointments Service on LinkedIn. 

Once you have registered with you can also set up job alerts to inform you of new vacancies which are tailored to your preferred interests.

At times, the Public Appointments Service may also look for ‘Generalists’ where campaigns are open to candidates coming from any discipline or degree background. The competencies required for these roles can always be found in the information booklet for each given campaign at


For information on civil service salary scales, go to the website of the Department of Finance at

[See 'Ask the Experts' for detailed information].

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Local Government header image


There are more than 100 local authorities and councils in Ireland constituting the local government system, which delivers a wide range of important services to every city, town and village in the country.

The purpose of Local Government is to enable people at local level to provide services for themselves, to exercise some control over their affairs and to make decisions through the democratic process.

Local Residents elect individuals to represent them on the Local Authority for their area. The elected County Councillor then makes decisions on behalf of constituents.

A total of 949 County Councillors are elected from their own localities. Their job is part-time and involves attending meetings to deal with various decisions. These decisions may be with regard to by-laws, development plans, planning applications and budgets.

The Local Authority levies local taxes to fund service provision. The Authority carries out a broad range of activities that make a significant contribution to the development of local communities. These services include:

  • Physical planning and development
  • Roads
  • Sanitary services
  • Housing
  • Waste management
  • Fire services
  • Libraries and museums
  • Environmental protection and
  • Parks, amenities and the arts. 

Fire Services in Ireland are managed at local authority level, with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government playing an advisory, legislative and policy-making role.

There are 30 fire services which are operated by 37 Fire Authorities. The staff of the fire services run 220 fire stations around the country and is made up of full-time professional fire fighters and retained part-time staff.

Retained Firefighters are employed in rural areas along with small towns and villages and make up about two-thirds of the national total. Retained firefighters are alerted for a callout via a pager system. They are usually self employed and need to be local, as they are required to respond to a callout within 3 to 5 minutes. Retained Firefighters are paid a yearly retaining fee as well as a fee per callout. Cities and larger urban areas are serviced by full-time fire fighters, who work in shifts to provide a 24-hour on call service. 

Full-time Firefighters - are employed where there is a need for a full-time brigade service, in the bigger cities like Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. The main duties of a full-time firefighter are to help protect the public in emergency situations. Firefighters also work in ambulances. After 7-years as a Firefighter, you can apply for promotion to the rank of Sub Officer. Ranks above this include Station OfficerDistrict Officer and Third Officer.  

Full-time Fire Prevention Officers - this role is recruited at graduate level and are usually qualified engineers, architects or surveyors. Their work in the prevention of fires involves surveying buildings under construction and existing buildings to ensure fire safety regulations are being adhered to. They can also be called in to a major fire where a co-ordinator is required to oversee certain operations. In Dublin Fire Brigade, Fire prevention officers have District Officer status. The majority are civilians with the appropriate academic qualifications, who operate solely as 9am - 5pm, fire prevention staff. Others are Operational District Officers who transfer from operational fire duties to Fire prevention for a number of years and work primarily at night with duties such as checking pubs and clubs.

How to Get Into the Fire Service 

When the Fire Service is recruiting, announcements are made through Advertisments are also typically placed in the local / national papers. 

[See also 'LGMA' for detailed information]

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Politics header image

In Ireland the people elect politicians to represent them in government, to act on their behalf and to protect their interests. Both Councillors (Local Government) and TDs (National Parliament) are elected by the public every five years. 

Decision-making at national level happens through the National Parliament or Oireachtas which consists of the President and two houses of Parliament: Dáil Éireann (The House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (The Senate).

Dáil Eireann has 158 elected members known as TDs. They attend parliament and deal with the country's social, legal and economic issues. Laws are prepared and debated before they are passed. These decisions or laws are then filtered down and put into action through the public services.

Each Government department is headed by a minister and staffed by public service officials. Their role is vital to the economic and social life of Ireland, implementing policies and delivering services to the public. 

To be elected by the public a candidate needs to be well known and well regarded for work in their local community. The most common route into politics is to join a local branch of a political party. You will need to become as active as possible and help out, especially at election time.

People are usually elected firstly as councillor to a county council before they proceed to running for a general election.

Photo: Count Centre at election time
It is well worth referring to the Government of Ireland website and taking the time to cast your eye over the A to Z of Services provided. This gives an indication of the broad range of work that is carried out on behalf of the Government.
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European Government header image

The EU Institutions offer the opportunity to pursue a rewarding international career in a uniquely multicultural and multilingual environment. As an EU official, you serve more than 500 million EU citizens across 28 member states and have the chance to apply your knowledge and skills in developing policy that has a real and meaningful impact on peoples’ lives.

The work of the EU is very wide ranging and the Institutions require staff with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. Linguists and lawyers are always in demand, as are economistsICT specialists
scientists and veterinarians, as well as administrative and support staff with more general backgrounds. 

EU Jobs Ireland is a Government information service designed to help you in taking the first step to an EU career. Through its website, e-newsletter and social media, EU Jobs Ireland provides essential updates about the career and traineeship opportunities available in the EU and advice on how to set about securing them. 
EU Jobs Ireland also offers free one-to-one advice on how to apply for specific EU positions and schedules training and information sessions ahead of most major EU recruitment competitions. You can find out more by emailing the service at
Permanent officials in the EU are classified as administrators and assistants:

Administrators (AD) - are typically involved in drafting policies and monitoring the implementation of EU law, analysing and advising. In general, to apply for an administrator competition, you must have completed (at least) three years of university.

Assistants (AST) - usually work in supporting roles and are crucial for the internal management of the institutions. In general, to apply for an assistant competition, you must have completed (at least) secondary school.

Whatever your background, if you have the right attitude and the right aptitudes, it’s likely that there is a career opportunity in the EU for you. The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), is the recruitment service of the EU institutions and agencies.

The range of work places is just as wide. While a little over half of the EU’s total staff are employed at the European Commission, it is far from the EU’s only major employer. Other Institutions - ranging from the European Parliament and Council to the European Court of Justice - also recruit staff regularly, as do the European Agencies, based right across the 28 Member States.

The European Commission’s careers page and the recruitment page of the European Parliament Information Office offer useful information on the type of work you might undertake in those institutions.

Click image to view Green Book

Apart from the chance to work in any of the 27 Member States, the European Institutions are significant employers providing permanent, temporary and contract opportunities.

For detailed information on the EU career and internship openings and opportunities available to Irish jobseekers see:

'The Green Book- an Irish Intern's Guide to Living and Working in Brussels & Other European Cities' Volume 10, 2016/17.

Published by European Movement Ireland (EMI)

European Regional Organisations

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

The OSCE presents a wide range of opportunities for those with specialist knowledge of human rights, economic and environmental affairs, media, political and security affairs, democratisation and rule of law.

The OSCE is a non-career organisation – as such, it offers fixed term contracts, rather than permanent positions, with vacancies posted through the OSCE website.

The OSCE offers a limited number of places for internship programme, with 40 interns taken on each year for placements with different sections/units in the organisation’s Secretariat in Vienna and Prague. Interns are also accepted by the OSCE Institutions and some field operations to support their activities. Applicants should be under 30 years of age and students in their final year of higher education at graduate or postgraduate level; or recent graduates or postgraduates, i.e. within two years after graduation.

The OSCE’s Junior Professional Officer (JPO) programme offers professionals below the age of 30 who have recently completed their studies the opportunity to gain a comprehensive overview of the Organization. The programme has two intakes per year, with six placements for a total of nine months. Notices are issued on the OSCE website.

The OSCE offers fixed-term and short-term contracts for positions at the Secretariat, institutions and mainly the area of administration, at its field operations. The Organisation recruits consultants to provide advisory services and expert assistance on a short-term and ad-hoc basis to complement the work of regular staff members or for specific projects. Interested experts are encouraged to apply for specific consultancy vacancy notices published on the OSCE website.

Applicants for such positions are required to have a university degree and, typically, several years of experience at national and / or international level in a relevant field of expertise. Post-graduate specialisation and management experience is necessary for more senior posts.

Council of Europe
The Council of Europe  (CoE) has a well regarded traineeship programme through which graduates can be placed at the CoE headquarters in Strasbourg for periods of between two and five months. CoE Traineeships are not remunerated, but do offer excellent professional experience, enabling trainees to learn about the structures, activities and international cooperation procedures followed by the CoE, including the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights. There are two official traineeship sessions each year, beginning in March and September.

The CoE also has a Junior Professionals Programme, which offers recent graduates the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in an international institution and contribute to protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe.

Linked to this is the Assistant Lawyer Scheme, which places legal graduates at the European Court of Human Rights. Placements under these programmes are typically for 3 or 4 years, with vacancies posted on the CoE website.

The CoE also employs temporary staff to cover staff absences, periods of increased workload, or to
support specific projects. Month or daily temporary contracts can last from a few days up to a maximum of 9 months in any calendar year and can be an excellent way to gain international experience. Temporary vacancies are at three levels and cover the work of programme/project officers and lawyers, secretarial/administrative support assistants and technical services personnel.

Visit Irish Voices : EU Jobs for more information on the opportunities available to Irish workers, students, graduates and professionals in the institutions of the EU.

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International Organisations header image

As an island nation, membership of international organisations is vital for Ireland. Joining the United Nations (UN) in 1955 and the European Union (EU) in 1973 were key milestones in the state’s development.

Trade and economic organisations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and regional organisations, such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), are fundamental to Ireland's interests, security and values.

Irish citizens make an enormous contribution to these organisations. Well over a thousand are directly employed by international organisations, including almost 500 at the European Commission alone.

UN Career Opportunities

Global Horizons is an initiative led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which addresses third-level students by exploring the theme ‘Representing Ireland Abroad: Opportunities for You’. By partnering with the Public Appointments Service and the Department of the Taoiseach’s ‘EU Jobs’ initiative on GradPublicJobs, Global Horizons aims to share the real-life experience of recent recruits and to provide real-time information on the internship and career opportunities within international organisations such as the United Nations, as well as the European Union.

Each year, Irish graduates are recruited to junior management, policy analyst and specialist roles across the EU, UN and elsewhere. As the ‘international Irish’, they serve not only Irish citizens, but the global good.

An internship or temporary placement is often a starting point for graduates. The UN offers internships of between two and six months across all of its main offices (including New York, Geneva and Vienna) and many of its funds and programmes.

Unlike most EU traineeships, UN internships are not remunerated and interns are responsible for their own visas, travel and medical insurance. However, the experience gained as a trainee can be very valuable, particularly for those considering entering the world of diplomacy and public policy.

The internships are designed to give you a first-hand impression of the day-to-day working environment of the UN, providing an opportunity to work closely with UN professionals and senior management, participate in meetings and high-level conferences, and contribute to analytical work as well as the organizational policy of the UN.

To be eligible, you must either be enrolled in the final year of a Bachelors, Masters or PhD programme or have graduated from such a programme in the past twelve months and have good communication skills.

Volunteer Programme
Every year, around 8,000 graduates from 160 different nationalities take part in the UN’s Volunteer Programme. UN Volunteers typically work for six month periods at a UN mission or agency, promoting peace, responding to disasters, empowering communities and helping to build sustainable livelihoods and lasting development.

While the programme is not a formal entry route to a UN career, the experience can be extremely valuable, professionally and personally.

A UN volunteer receives a Volunteer Living Allowances (VLA) which covers basic needs, housing and utilities, as well as other supports (e.g. health and permanent disability insurance, return airfares and a nominal resettlement allowance).

To be a UN volunteer you must be 25 years of age or older and have a university degree or diploma in higher education and at least two years professional experience. You should also be motivated, dedicated to volunteerism and ready to serve in hardship locations for periods of between six and twelve months.

The UN Jobsfinder website provides a more detailed overview of the programme for those interested in learning more.

Career Opportunities with Economic Organisations

The OECD, World Bank, IMF, WTO and Asian Development Bank all operate excellent young professional and internship programmes for graduates with a background in economics, finance or related disciplines. Competition for these placements is intense and those recruited tend to have a high level of academic achievement, typically at postgraduate level.

Video: Profile of William Hynes ~ Senior Economist OECD

The OECD’s Young Professional Programme opens for applications every second year (the next cycle is in autumn 2016). YPs are based at the OECD headquarters in Paris and are recruited for a fixed two-year term, at the end of which many continue at the OECD by applying for available vacancies. Longer term contract positions, which usually require more extensive professional experience, are advertised on the OECD careers website.

World Bank 
The World Bank operates a paid internship programme for students enrolled in the full-time graduate study (Master's or PhD level) in relevant fields, including economics, finance, human development, social science, agriculture and the environment. Positions are usually located at the Bank’s HQ in Washington DC and are for a minimum of four weeks, with applications are accepted in December and October each year.

In 2015, the Bank launched a new Group Analyst Programme, open to applicants under 28 years of age holding a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a relevant field. The three-year structured programme could see you placed either at the Bank’s HQ or in one of its regional offices and presents an excellent opportunity for anyone with a passion for international development. The World Bank also runs a young professional programme similar to that of the OECD, targeted at postgraduates (principally PhD level) with qualifications in the above fields and with some professional experience.

International Monetary Fund 
Through its internship programme, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offers students enrolled in PhD or Master’s level programmes in economics the opportunity to undertake paid three-month research placements at its Washington HQ each summer, with applications are typically sought in December. The IMF’s celebrated Economist Programme builds on this allowing high performing PhD economic graduates a three-year professional placement in which to apply their research to the IMF’s policy work.

World Trade Organisation
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Secretariat runs a limited paid internship programme for post-graduate students wishing to gain practical experience and deeper knowledge of the multilateral trading system. To be eligible, you must be between 21 and 30 years of age and have completed undergraduate studies in a relevant discipline (e.g. economics, law, political science, international relations) as well as at least one year of postgraduate studies. Internships are undertaken at the Secretariat’s office in Geneva and are typically six months in duration.

Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) also runs an internship programme, which allows masters and PhD students from relevant disciplines an opportunity to serve at the Bank for 2 to 6 months, as well as a young professional programme which supports three-year placements with the Bank.
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