How to become a teacher in Ireland

9 Oct 2023, 08:54

There have been significant regulatory changes within the teaching sector over recent years, with access to this popular sector now subject to a process regulated by the Teaching Council in the Republic of Ireland. Read our advice on how to get your teaching career started.

Young teacher stands smiling at the front of a class of young children

A rewarding, demanding and consistently popular career path, teaching remains a sector that is in demand amongst graduates. There have been several major challenges for the area in recent years, the financial crisis precipitated a virtual halt in teacher recruitment and the establishment of the Teaching Council Regulations in 2009 necessitated an almost complete overhaul of pre-existing teaching regulations. The aim of the new system of teaching qualification and registration is to make the sector more transparent and equalising the standards obtained by those working as teachers, whether they be at Primary or Post-Primary level. Registration with the Teaching Council is now a legal requirement for any teacher to be paid by public funds within the Republic of Ireland. Registered teachers are also required to abide by the professional standards set by the council.

How to become a primary teacher as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT)

Since the regulations changed in April 2013, applicants can now complete a primary degree at level 8 or equivalent or a qualification at level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework .

They will also need to complete a Higher Diploma in Education Professional Master of Education (Primary Teaching), a list of recognised colleges providing approved programmes is available here .

Exact specifics of the necessary courses for Primary teaching can be found within Regulation Two of the Teaching Council regulations and within Schedule One of this document. Essentially, all teachers seeking to be registered with the Teaching Council, whether in Primary or Post-Primary education, will have to have completed a recognised qualification in Education. If you are not a newly qualified teacher, there are a number of criteria which are required in order for you to register with the Council.

In November 2018, the Government announced changes to the postgraduate entry process for primary teaching through Maynooth University, DCU, Mary Immaculate College and the Marino Institute of Education. Prior to this change, to apply under the post-graduate entry route to initial teacher education for primary teaching (the Primary Professional Master of Education qualification) in these colleges, candidates, who have already satisfied the Minimum Entry Requirements in Irish, English and Maths, had to do three separate Irish oral examinations. Each oral examination would have taken place on the same day as an interview at the institution concerned. A fail in the Irish oral examination would result in the interview result being discounted, adding considerably to the stress on candidates.

From 2019, there will be one Irish oral examination for all candidates, which will take place before they apply to their preferred institution(s). The Irish oral examination will be administered by the Centre for Irish Language Research, Teaching and Testing in Maynooth University using the Teastas Eorpach Gaeilge (TEG) test, which is linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The Irish oral will be held in February 2019, at venues throughout the country.

Candidates will then apply to their preferred institution(s) and be called to interview by those institutions, in due course. There will be no further Irish oral examination.

The institutions have advised that the oral Irish examination will cost €65 per candidate. However, arrangements may be made for students who enter via alternative routes to have this fee refunded.

How to become a post-primary teacher as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT)

In order to qualify for registration with the Teaching Council as a Post-Primary teacher, applicants will need to hold a primary degree at level 8 or qualification at level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework .

The degree with hold at least 180 credits and be at least three-years full-time. The list of recognised courses no longer applies – students now must make sure that regardless of the title of their course they have undertaken the modules specified by the Teaching Council in order to teach their proposed teaching subjects.

Applicants must also have a recognised qualification in post-primary education. Alternative routes into post-primary teaching are also laid out within Regulation Four of the Teaching Council regulations

Registration criteria

If you are not a newly qualified teacher, there are a number of criteria which are required in order for you to register with the Council. These guidelines can be found here

Registration with the Teaching Council for Newly Qualified Teachers (Primary and Post Primary)

The application process for final year teacher education students involves two distinct steps, with a number of stages in each step, a number of forms which must be completed in order for the process to continue.

Stage One:

During the final year of teacher education programmes, a representative from the Teaching Council will make a presentation to final year students to outline the role, functions and benefits of the Council and to provide detailed information about the registration process and the subsequent Garda Vetting process. The necessary forms will also be distributed during this visit. These forms consist of:

1: Consent form for the Transfer of Student Details and Qualification Results from College/University to the Teaching Council

In this phase, the council is seeking to obtain the data regarding students from the institutions in order to facilitate the registration process. This consent form authorises this on behalf of the student. Without completing this form and returning it to the Registrar’s Office or Education Department at the institution, the student’s data will not be transferred to the Teaching Council and the student will have to apply directly to the Teaching Council using the standard form and provide all required documentation.

2: Garda Vetting Application Form

Whether a teacher is seeking registration or employment, all must be vetted by An Garda Síochana on behalf of the Teaching Council. Again, this is an integral part of the registration process, without which it cannot continue. The vetting process can take between 8 and 12 weeks to complete and further details on this process can be found on the NQT Registration Information Leaflet. The form cannot be downloaded but must be requested by post from the Teaching Council.

3: Character Reference Form

In order to qualify for the register, one of the requirements is satisfactory evidence of the character of the applicant. The Character Reference Form should be completed prior to the student sitting their final exams and submitted along with the application for registration which will be issued to newly qualified teachers. More information on the application for registration form below in Stage 2.

Stage Two:

Once the first stage has been completed and processed, the Teaching Council will send a personalised form to Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT’s). This form must be accurately completed and returned to the Council before the specified deadline to ensure registration for the forthcoming school year. If Stage One has been completed properly and the application form returned correctly and on time, a newly qualified teacher will be granted ‘registration with conditions’ status.

Registration subject to conditions

This is the normal status for all NQT’s and means they are eligible for employment in the education sector that is appropriate to their qualifications and will be paid on the Department of Education and Skills incremental salary scale. Further specifications of conditional registration can be found here: When they have qualified for this initial registration, teachers receive a letter of confirmation which lays out the further steps required for full qualification most common conditions are as follows:


  • Induction programme
  • Probation
  • Droichead programme (Pilot Schools)
  • Qualification shortfalls
  • Irish language requirement


  • Induction programme
  • Post-qualification employment
  • Droichead Programme (Pilot Schools)
  • Qualification Shortfalls
  • History and structure of Irish education

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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