With all the talk of CAO and applying to university, it can be easy to forget that there are other routes to your chosen career. From Apprenticeships, Colleges of Further Education and Defence Forces, there are many other options to consider.

Colleges of Further Education

Colleges of Further Education offer courses that are a mixture of practical work, academic work and work experience. These courses are a great option as they are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, as such, they are closely linked to industry and its needs. The courses are full-time and last for one to two years and you receive a QQI level 5 or 6.

You apply directly to the individual colleges and entry is based on academic ability and/ or interview.

You are still eligible to apply for the SUSI College Grant http://www.susi.ie

Also, many of the courses in ITs reserve a quota of places for QQI Level 6 applicants. You can apply to CAO and compete for these places using the points you receive for your QQI award.

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Craft Apprenticeships:  You can train to become a plasterer or electrician etc.  While you are training, you work with an employer learning the necessary skills and receive a wage. Most apprenticeships last 4 years. Apprentices must be at least 16 years of age and have a minimum of grade D in any five subjects in the Junior Certificate or equivalent. However, employers may require additional minimum qualifications. To apply for a place on an apprenticeship, you must first register with SOLAS. http://www.solas.ie

Professional Apprenticeships:  NFQ Level 5 to 9 is offered through the individual industries in areas as diverse as; financial services, accounting, medical devices, software development etc.  Professional bodies such as Accounting Technicians of Ireland/ Insurance Practitioners of Ireland have programmes to link you to the employers and relevant academic institutes.

For more information on apprenticeships check out www.apprenticeship.ie


Offers training and further education programmes to both jobseekers looking for employment and employees wishing to improve their skills.  Part-time, full-time, evening and online courses for jobseekers.  www.solas.ie

An Garda Siochana   

Applications for the position of Garda Trainee are made by way of an online application process which is managed by the Public Appointments Service www.publicjobs.ie.  Applicants must be 18 but not yet 35 years of age.  For education requirements and other information check out www.garda.ie

Defence Forces:  

Recruitment competitions are held as required, check out www.military.ie for further information.


Careers in agriculture, horticulture, horses or forestry.  These courses offer a wide range of career options in the expanding amenity horticulture and forestry sectors.  For more information check out  –  www.teagasc.ie

If you have any questions, you can chat online to a trained Youth Information Officer or leave us a message and we can get back to you.