I’m thinking of becoming a secondary teacher. What qualifications do I need?

Ask Brian: You should have studied at least one subject from post-primary curriculum at degree level

I'm in the final year of my undergraduate degree and I'm thinking of secondary teaching as a career choice. What are the job prospects like? And how do I go about seeking a place?

You’ll need to complete a two-year professional master of education course, more commonly known in teaching circles as a PME.

Applicants are required to have a level-eight degree which satisfies the curricular subject criteria set and regulated by the Department of Education in association with the Teaching Council of Ireland.

As part of your application, you’ll be required to complete a declaration form for the subjects you are seeking to teach.

This requires a minimum of a 2:2 in a primary level-eight degree which meets the Teaching Council requirements for at least one post-primary curricular subject (check teachingcouncil.ie for more details).

The PME is offered on a subject basis (the subjects you are qualified to teach during the programme) through an application/selection system. Applicants will rank PME programmes by university preference. If successful, applicants will register to their university with both subjects.

The Postgraduate Applications Centre in Galway offers the PME centrally for Dublin City University (DCU) and the National University of Ireland (NUI) constituent colleges: University College Cork, University College Dublin, NUI Galway and Maynooth University.

Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick deal directly with applicants to their respective PME programmes. Hibernia College, an accredited online third-level institution, also offers the PME.

Applicants for admission to PME programmes beginning in autumn 2021 at any one or more of the four NUI universities must complete a single common application form. Preferences must be expressed if applying to more than one programme.

The deadlines for applications will begin to expire soon so be sure to get your documentation together now.

For example, the online PME application form must be completed by January 31st, 2021. All supporting documentation for NUI must be uploaded by February 12th. The application fee is €100.

In the case of DCU, the closing date for applications is February 12th and supporting documentation must be uploaded by February 26th. The application fee is €80.

Applicants will be assessed on the basis of information supplied in the form together with accompanying documentation.

This supporting documentation includes an original copy or a certified photocopy of the full transcript/statement of results obtained on the completion of each year of study to date.

Undergraduate applicants are assessed on the last full set of results (excluding Erasmus). Graduate applicants are assessed based on their overall degree results achieved.

Job prospects are generally good given that enrolment numbers for second level are growing, though it depends on your subjects. There are acute shortages of teachers in some key subjects – especially science, languages and home economics.