College choices at a glance: 10 CAO courses, 10 careers

A selection of courses you can apply for through the CAO process

Veterinary medicine graduates can expect to work in mixed, small animal, farm animal or equine practice. Photograph: Getty

Veterinary medicine graduates can expect to work in mixed, small animal, farm animal or equine practice. Photograph: Getty



CAO Code: DN300
In this five-year course – the only one in Ireland – students learn about animal welfare; how to care for healthy and sick animals; recognise, prevent and control animal diseases; and prevent diseases transmitting from animals to humans.

Graduates can expect to work in mixed, small animal, farm animal or equine practice, while increasing numbers are pursuing public or private sector research careers.

Students required 589 CAO points for entry in 2020.

According to, the average salary for a veterinary medicine graduate is €70,533 per year.


CAO Code: TR072
This course consists of four years leading to a BSc (Pharm), and a fifth, postgraduate year that will allow them to register as a pharmacist with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

Students on the course learn about all aspects of natural and synthetic drugs and their chemistry, as well how they are used in medicine. Graduates go on to work in community pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and within the pharma industry, including in research and development roles.

Students required 590 CAO points for entry in 2020.

According to, the average salary for a pharmacist in Ireland is €61,857.


CAO Code: DC002
The four-year course includes 30 weeks of school placement and a four-week visit to the Gaeltacht, while all students will choose a specialism relevant to teaching.

Students on the course will explore how children think and learn, and how to work in a classroom. There are modules in psychology, philosophy, sociology of education and the history of education.

In first year they also choose three areas of study including English, Irish, geography, history, maths, music and religious studies.

Students required 488 points in 2020.

The average salary for a primary teacher in Ireland is €35,311, according to


CAO Code: MH207
Jobs in data science barely existed 20 years ago. Now it’s one of the biggest growth areas of the past decade and, with about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every day across every industry and profession imaginable, employers are crying out for data science grads.

Maynooth University is one of several higher-education institutions offering data science courses. The four-year course includes data science, maths and computer science. A minimum O1 or a H5 is required for entry, and points in 2020 were 445.

The average salary for a data scientist, according to, is €50,099.


CAO Code: LM050
UL’s four-year degree offers students a broad choice of options and modules, including accounting, economics, human resource management, marketing, risk management and insurance. In year two, students choose to specialise in one area as their major.

Students can choose business studies alone, or combine it with French, German, Japanese, beginner’s Spanish or advanced Spanish – and employers are very keen for language graduates.

Practical business projects and an eight-month work placement form key parts of the course, with an option to study abroad and get a “dual degree”.

Students required 430 points last year.

Data from the Higher Education Authority suggests business graduates earn an average of €45,708 per year.


CAO Code: CK412
This course, now in its second year, is slightly more dairy-focused than UCD’s long-running agriculture course.

Modules on the UCC course include biochemistry and the biological basis of disease; introduction to international food policy; cells, biomolecules, genetic and evolution; animal nutrition; the environment; grassland management; and bovine health, behaviour and welfare.

Students also complete 28 weeks of work placement in third year.

Students required 489 points in 2020.

Salaries vary significantly depending on the destination of graduates, although the HEA indicates that 24 per cent earned €21,000-€24,999, and 24 per cent earned €25,000-€28,999 nine months after graduation.


CAO Code: GY101
Galway is renowned as a city of the arts, and NUI Galway’s range of arts and humanities courses provides students with a range of study options, including general arts, arts (psychology), arts (children’s studies), arts (human rights), arts (film and digital media), arts (global languages), arts (music), arts (journalism) and more.

In 2020 points ranged from 300 for the general arts degree to 451 for arts (drama, theatre and performance studies) and 523 for arts (psychology).

Because arts graduates work in such a wide and diverse range of industries, there’s little reliable data on average salaries, but a 2019 HEA survey found that arts grads could expect to be earning an average of €24,728 nine months after graduating. However, arts graduates often do a postgraduate course that boosts salary.


CAO Code: CR 500
The new Munster Technological University – formed from the merger of Cork Institute of Technology and IT Tralee – offers an engineering course aimed at students who aren’t completely sure where they’d like to specialise.

In year one, students explore sustainable energy engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical and biopharmaceutical engineering, biomedical engineering and structural engineering. Having sampled various different areas of engineering, students then choose where to specialise in year two.

The course required 411 points in 2020.

Engineers typically earn high salaries, with Engineers Ireland indicating that a graduate engineer can expect to start on €33,000, rising to about €50,000 after six to 10 years’ experience.


CAO Code: SG150
Three new courses begin in IT Sligo next September, including a level eight bachelor of arts in law and business, a level seven bachelor of business in marketing and a level eight bachelor of business in marketing.

IT Sligo has a proven track record in innovating for online learning, and so its expertise in marketing stands out, with the new marketing courses covering social media marketing, digital content creation, customer experience and marketing communications.

The courses will open the door to a wide range of career opportunities in one of the major employment growth areas. lists the average marketing salary at €32,348, but this rises with experience.


CAO Code: TU918
This three-year course isn’t just for those who want to work as a barrister or solicitor; employers across a range of areas, including the civil and public service and the NGO sector, value the analytical, research and problem-solving skills of law graduates.

Modules on this course include criminal law, contract law, torts, property law, constitutional law, evidence and jurisprudence, and can take optional modules including refugee and asylum law, employment law, family law and competition law.

Students required 342 points in 2020, or 451 for law with a language.

The average salary for a law graduate depend on where they ultimately work, but a solicitor earns €47,000 on average, according to