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 Tomas Flanagan from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

Tomas Flanagan

Occupational Therapist

St. Michael's House

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Tomas Flanagan

I would advise anyone interested in Occupational Therapy to read up on the profession or else try to meet a qualified Occupational Therapist and talk to them about their work.

The internet can be a great resource in getting information. Also information from the universities might indicate if this is a course that is suited to you. A lot of the course work relies on you being a self-directed learner. This makes the course different to other more mainstream/academic courses as the onus is on the student to complete a lot of work independently.

As this is a caring profession an interest in working with people is a must. You also need to be a good communicator as you will be working closely with clients, families and other staff on an ongoing basis.

Organisational skills are essential to enable you to manage a caseload.

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Realist?
Realist
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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Back to Education Allowance

If you are unemployed, parenting alone or have a disability and are getting certain payments from the Department of Social Protection, you may take part in a second-or third-level education course and get a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).

If you want to do other types of courses not covered under the BTEA, for example, personal development courses or general training courses you may return to education under the Part-time Education option, the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) or the Education, Training and Development option.


In order to qualify for the BTEA scheme it is necessary for a person to be:

  • Attending a recognised course of study at second or third level study option
  • Attending a full-time day course of study in a recognised college
  • A specific age in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a period of time
  • Must be in general commencing the first year of a course of study
  • Since 2016/17, BTEA is only paid for courses that start in Ireland or in Northern Ireland. You can be paid BTEA for a year abroad (for example, under the Erasmus scheme) if the year is an integral or mandatory part of your course. This must be verified by the Registrar or Admissions office of your college.
  • The course must be leading to a progression of qualifications: click here

For more information on the BTEA click here

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