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Some young people know at an early stage what they would like to be—a teacher, an engineer, a salesperson, a bus-driver perhaps—but there are many who have no definite ideas about the kind of work they would like to do. One of the principal needs of young people in Choosing a Career is information on the opportunities available and awareness of their own qualities, skills and potential. The information provided in this series covers a wide range of careers, the kind of work each involves and how to set about qualifying for them. They are intended to help people in Choosing a Career. Further research should be made into specific details of your chosen career.

Good decisions are based on good information. Towards the end of their third year or in Transition Year in second-level schools most young people face the first big decision of their lives—the choice of school subjects which can affect the choice of a career. The choice is important because, once made, it affects the course of their working lives.

In order to make an informed decision it is essential to know the subject requirement for your chosen career. The most common mistakes made in choosing subjects are (a) not opting for a modern foreign language and (b) not opting for a science subject. It is, therefore, important to find out which subjects are required for your chosen career. Even though in modern conditions it may be easier to change occupations and to re-train, it is important to choose wisely at the beginning in order to avoid wasting years at a job which is not the right one for a particular individual. Ideally, the chosen job should bring personal satisfaction and pride and the opportunity for full development of the individual’s talents; the job should also be contributing something worthwhile to the Community.

Points about Choosing a Career

In Choosing a Career you must take into consideration a number of factors: what employment opportunities are available, what you would like to do, what your talents and attainments in school examinations are, what your family and financial circumstances are and whether you are in a position, for instance, to take a professional course of training in a technical college or University. Other factors to be considered are general intelligence, physique and talent. Remember that human beings are versatile and very few people are so made that they can only be happy in one particular occupation. Most people are capable of doing any one of a number of different jobs with some success and satisfaction, provided the jobs give scope to the individual’s qualities and gifts. For instance, the same qualities that are required to be a Scientist may be used in a career as a Laboratory Technician or a Pharmacist, while an understanding and sympathetic personality could lead one to a career in social work, nursing, public relations or personnel work.

How to set about Choosing a Career

A good way to approach the problem would be to list on one side your tastes and talents: Which school subjects are you best at? Do you write well? Are you artistic? Do you get on well with people? Do you work best with a group or do you like to work alone on an exercise or a problem? Are you a leader, the kind of person your classmates pick as prefect or team captain, etc? Would you like outdoor or indoor, manual or desk work?

Against this, list the careers that at first glance interest you and the educational qualifications and any particular personal qualities required for each of them. By comparing your two lists you should be able to narrow down the choice of occupations which you consider would suit you.

Begin drawing up these lists from Junior Certificate year onwards and update them often during Senior Cycle. This will help the decision-making process in your final year.

Now study the various career leaflets, noting the entry qualifications required, the work involved and the training you would have to undergo either before starting or while at work. Your first source of advice should be your parents. If you are attending a secondary or vocational school in which there is a Guidance Counsellor you may seek his/her advice. Second Level schools generally give guidance to students in the choice of courses and careers. You will also have to consider, with the help of the school’s advisers and your parents, such questions as whether you would be able for any necessary training, the cost of University or similar training in some careers and, if you do not live in a city or large town, whether it would be possible for you to attend such courses of study or training and if you would qualify for grants. The question of whether employment in certain kinds of work does in fact exist at home or whether it is confined to certain areas, large centres of population, etc, must be faced. Opportunities to study/train abroad must also be considered.

Career Options for Girls

In the past, jobs were often divided into men’s work and women’s work. This has meant that young women, in particular, often do not consider all the possible career options open to them. Non-traditional areas of work such as the various trades (eg. electrician, tool-maker, mechanic), engineering or electronics offer a wide choice of interesting and well-paid careers. Remember, check out all the options.

School Guidance & Counselling Service

Students in most second-level schools, whether Secondary, Vocational or Comprehensive, will have the benefit of an educational and vocational guidance service, provided by the school and monitored by the Department of Education’s Psychological Service.

Employment Services (FÁS)

For the most part the information in this series sets out basic details on careers throughout the country. For information on job opportunities in particular careers in your own district you should approach the local FÁS Office where the staff will be able to advise you.

Where to go for further information

In many of the career leaflets you will find the titles and addresses of professional institutes, trade associations, colleges of training and education, major employer bodies, etc, who will be prepared to answer specific enquiries or to furnish more detailed information to young people interested in particular careers.

Information supplied by FÁS