Varied ways of learning the ropes, from undergrad to postgrad

Career Guide: Teaching

The answer: teachers need various skills including being able to explain things and happy with public speaking

The answer: teachers need various skills including being able to explain things and happy with public speaking


Is teaching for you? Here are a few ways of telling: do you enjoy explaining things to people? Do you have a particular subject or subjects you enjoy? Are you good at listening to people and understanding them? Are you okay with public speaking? Do you like ideas and projects? How do you feel about a life in the classroom?

Most importantly, perhaps, a good teacher is willing to continue learning throughout their life, whereas a bad teacher thinks they know it all already.

And let’s face it, although many teachers have heavy workloads during the year, it is a career that is particularly conducive to family life.

Depending on where and what they want to teach, students take very different routes.

Primary teachers study for their degree in one of the teacher-training colleges, whereas secondary school teachers generally do an undergraduate science, arts or business based degree and then take on a postgraduate diploma in education.

Where to study teaching

At primary level, there are six main teacher-training colleges, all offering four-year degrees.

St Patrick’s Drumcondra and Marino College of Education in Dublin, as well as Mary Immaculate in Limerick, are managed by the Catholic Church.

The Church of Ireland College of Education in south Dublin trains primary teachers for Protestant schools. Froebel College of Education at NUI Maynooth is the only publicly funded secular college of education in the State. The newest player, Hibernia, a private online-learning college, has been creeping up on the inside and has trained some excellent teachers.

You can also study primary teaching at post-grad level at colleges including including at Mary Immaculate, Froebel, Marino and St Patrick’s, after a non-teaching primary degree.

Post-primary teacher training is at post-graduate level at Trinity College, UCD, and NUI Galway. But there are more direct routes to post-primary teaching, with a physical education teacher-training course at the University of Limerick, a science teacher-training course at DCU, and home economics at St Angela’s in Sligo.

Career opportunities

It is still incredibly difficult for teachers to get onto the career ladder, with up to one in four struggling to secure employment. But things may be about to change. “Primary school numbers are growing and that bulge of students will transfer into second level and we expect the number of students to continue growing for another 10

years,” says Pat King, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland. “A lot of teachers started teaching with the advent of free education in the 1970s and many of these are now close to retirement: this should also create employment opportunities for newly qualified teachers.”

Meanwhile, the Irish National Teachers Organisation believes that demand for primary teaching will remain strong.

Salary expectations

New teachers are still paid less than their colleagues. The minimum basic starting wage for teachers is €27,814 and the maximum is €59,359. However, teachers can receive extra allowances for additional educational qualifications.

CAO points 2013 Primary teaching, Mary Immaculate Limerick 465 Home Economics with Biology, St Angela’s Sligo 495 Primary teaching, Froebel at NUI Maynooth 495 Science education, DCU 420 PE teaching, UL 495

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