Career Choice And Subject Options



Many students are now faced with choosing subjects for leaving cert. The following addresses some questions and issues, that students and their parents should consider at this crucial time.

Why is choosing the right leaving cert subjects so important?

Choosing the right subjects is key to successfully gaining access to the right third-level or post leaving cert courses. While choosing subjects you like is important, students should also consider the impact these choices will have on their college courses and career options. At Nicholls Gallagher Career Advisors, we regularly deal with students who, as a result of making the wrong subject choices, limit their options when it comes to choosing 3rd level courses and careers.

What 3rd level courses require specific subjects?

(The following are some popular careers that require specific Leaving Cert subjects)

Medicine – (2 science subjects are required for a 5-year degree, students with just one science subject have to undertake an additional one-year pre-med course)

Physiotherapy – (one science subject at a higher level is a basic requirement)

Radiography – (one science subject at a higher level is a basic requirement)

Engineering – (having honour in higher-level maths is a requirement for higher-level engineering degrees. An A or B in ordinary level maths is desirable for ordinary level engineering degrees and certificates)

Nursing – (Biology at higher level is a basic requirement)
Primary School Teaching – (an honour in higher-level Irish is a basic requirement)

A second language (e.g., French, Spanish, Italian, and German) is required for access to the National Universities of Ireland (UCD, UCC, UCG, and Maynooth) except for science and engineering degrees.

What key issue should I consider when choosing subjects?

1. Your long-term career options
2. Your level of interest in the subject
3. Your aptitude for specific subjects

Why is career direction essential to consider at this early stage?

1. Heightened Motivation to succeed – from our experience, students who have a clear career direction are generally more motivated to succeed in their exams. The worry of accurately filling out the CAO and UCAS forms is also alleviated, allowing them to concentrate specifically on their studies.

2. Work experience focus – Identifying specific career options at an early stage enables students to gain relevant work experience during the summer months – this gives them a significant advantage when applying for jobs. Transition year students are also encouraged to gain work experience in a voluntary capacity. Many third-level courses now offer work experience opportunities during term time.

As a sixteen-year-old student, I have little work experience and am therefore uncertain as to what careers I would enjoy or be most suited to, how do I address this?

1. Build on your level of self-awareness – knowing yourself and key personal traits, your thinking style, and your occupational preferences and motivations will help you to identify suitable careers when reviewing job descriptions.

2. Seek professional guidance – working with an experienced career guidance consultant and undertaking professional psychometric assessments will give you an invaluable insight into your personality profile, i.e. your key traits and attributes; the areas that will motivate you and the work activities that appeal to you most. Matching your profile to suitable careers and the relevant third level courses at an early stage significantly reduces the future risk of dropping out and having to start the difficult process all over again!

3. Research career areas of interest – talk to people in these jobs and build a portfolio of careers that appeal to you. (Visit Career Directions on for a comprehensive A – Z list of job descriptions).

Nicholls Gallagher Career Advisors is an organisation committed to the delivery of professional career guidance for students seeking advice on career choices, 3rd level courses, and subject choices. We also offer in-depth career development and change service.

Contact us for a consultation.

CAO Change of Mind Facility Opens May 5th – July 1st 2020

Closing date for late CAO applications is May 1st (5.15 pm). Further applications after this date will not be accepted for 2020 academic year.

Fee for online application is €60. This can be paid using a Credit or Debit Card (Visa or MasterCard). Advance payment of fee can be made at a bank within the Republic of Ireland using an Application Fee Payment Form. Application Fee Payment Form may be obtained by contacting CAO.

CAO change of mind facility for applications amendments or for first time listing of course choices opens May 5th until July 1st.

If you are unsure as to what the best CAO options are for you, now is the time to undergo an assessment to identify the most appropriate courses!

At Nicholls Gallagher, we work closely with students to help them to identify career and course options based on their motivations, personality, occupational interests and aptitudes.

The service includes:
• A full psychometric assessment
• One to one consultation with an experienced careers advisor
• Free follow up meetings with your consultant for any further advice.

Fee for service – €200

Contact us for consultation or to speak to one of our advisors

Useful links:

CAO 2020 Application


Irish Times

SUSI Online Applications Are Open


SUSI online applications are now open for the 2020/21 academic year. 

A large number of students may qualify for a SUSI college grant for the 2020/21 academic year due to the impact of Covid-19 on many household finances.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get on it, as SUSI is expecting a very high number of students to send in applications in the coming months. Students are encouraged to apply online as quickly as possible. Leaving Cert results or accepted course is not needed. However, you will be required to provide details of your chosen course. Change of mind at a later date on your course/college choice can be updated or amended online.

Contact us if you need help with filling out applications.


Useful links:

SUSI Application Form Guide 2020/21

Eligibility Reckoner

SUSI Grant Process

SUSI Forms



Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI)





What To Consider When Accepting Offers


Consider the following when accepting offers:


Financial Implication: Consider the financial implications of where you plan to study. Avoid choosing a location because your friends are going there. Consider local Colleges and Institutions where courses of interest may also be offered.

Course Syllabus: Read carefully the modules covered in your chosen courses. The course name may not necessarily reflect the content. Ensure that the modules, and how they are taught, appeal specifically to you.

Remember to play to your strength, interests, personality, and motivation. Even though it may not be necessary to know what career you are going to pursue following your studies, it is advisable to have a general idea of the types of environments that might suit your specific personality profile, work activities that interest you and subjects that motivate you!