Can I change career after my degree?

While many Leaving Cert students have already submitted their CAO, there will still be time to fill out the change of mind form if they want to choose a different CAO course, but it is important to remember that you do not necessarily need to be tied to a career relating to your degree forever. Nowadays there is great flexibility, and opportunities for people to change their careers. Many students do get stressed trying to pick a CAO course or apprenticeship as they feel they will be locked into this job or career for the rest of their life. There are however many ways in which you can change direction, even straight after your degree or apprenticeship.

Springboard course

Changing career, or industry, can be achieved through different means but it depends on various factors such as age, income, location, qualifications, prior work experience, ability to travel and/or commute, and most importantly, what job or industry or career you are trying to get into. If you have just graduated and have already decided that you would like to do something different from what you studied, you could enrol in a Springboard course, and many of these courses are formally called ‘conversion courses’.

One of the advantages of these courses is that many will provide you with a work placement. Some of these Springboard courses offer paid placements, while others offer unpaid, but placements are a fantastic way to gain work experience in a particular industry with no prior experience. Another way to gain experience, or training, after graduation is to try to secure a graduate programme. Many graduate programmes offer intensive training in the sector and a lot of graduate programmes have general non-specific entry requirements, meaning that they are open to applications from students from many backgrounds. Some masters programmes also accept graduates from many disciplines so this could be another way to convert your career.

LEO supports

As we saw during Covid, many entrepreneurs packed up and left the bigger cities to start a new life in smaller cities or towns, while setting up their own business. The Local Enterprise office (LEO ) offers many supports such as training, networking events and financial supports to budding entrepreneurs and those who want to convert their ‘passion project’ into a business.

LEO has supported many of those who were working in jobs to make the transition to focus on their own business and build that business up full time, for example Gra chocolates.

Very often, people are unhappy, unfulfilled or unsatisfied in their job and while they want a change, they don’t know how to change or make that transition. The first thing I would recommend is to reflect on your skills and strengths and try to evaluate your qualifications and skills and identify if you need further development or education, or you may even need a good career coach to empower you to make the move or even identify what you need to do.

Volunteering is also a great way to develop skills that you may not necessarily have. Volunteering can also be great for networking and socialising.

Whether you want to change your career or job or simply get a promotion, the best way to do so is do your research about where you want to go and what can help you get there. Sometimes it could be a case of getting a good mentor — the Galway Women’s Network offers mentors, as do many organisations, but with most career related opportunities you have to do the research and go out and look for opportunities yourself. Sometimes a guidance counsellor may be necessary as this might be useful for accessing detailed information which is sometimes hard to identify.

There are so many different ways to change career and transition into another area whether it is after graduation or midlife, but the important thing is to plan and research. Just remember the average person makes about five career changes within their lifetime and it is becoming more and more common, so it is never too late to change careers.

Claire Murphy obtained her Masters in Career Guidance and Counseling in Trinity and has more than 10 years' experience working as a teacher and a career guidance counsellor at both second level and third level. She is currently working as a consultant career guidance counsellor in Psychmed. To book an appointment for a CV review, interview skills or help with CAO choice, email her at


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