Civil Service

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The civil service involves the assisting and monitoring of central and local government across all departments, from environment to education and health services to taxation; it also provides all the public services available from these various sectors. The civil service is as misunderstood as your parent’s opinion of your social life. Due to the steady nature of the employment many may assume there are low levels of excitement and challenge: an extremely misinformed view. Working in the public sector is incredibly demanding in that certain standards are not rewarded, but expected. There is room for great variety in the line of work for anyone pursuing a career in the large realm of the civil service and impressive prospects for progression so if the fundamentals appeal to you read on to learn more…


The civil service is open to graduates and non-graduates alike, depending on the level of position. The role of clerical officer requires no specific minimum educational requirements other than a good general education. Executive officer is the most common entry point for graduates into the civil service. Administrative officer is usually regarded as the highest-level job for which candidates from outside the civil service can be selected. A high level of academic attainment (first or second class honours degree, or a professional qualification in law or accountancy) is required. Similar academic qualifications are required when applying for the position of inspector of taxes and that of third secretary, the recruitment level for the Irish diplomatic service. Applicants for the role of administrator in an EU institution are usually required to have at least a degree, along with a good working knowledge of a second European language. A degree in European Studies is a very useful qualification for those who wish to pursue a career in the diplomatic service or become an administrator in an EU institution.

The CAO points required for a European Services degree course range widely from 250 to over 500. Many of the courses require students to have taken a European language at honours level in their Leaving Cert. The course itself usually involves studying at least one other European language, a choice of arts, business and law subjects, and a year abroad at a foreign university. Options After QualificationApplicant selection for the aforementioned civil service roles is made by competition. These competitions are advertised in the recruitment section of the national daily newspapers and on the web site www. publicjobs. ie (or http;/europa. eu. int/epso/competitions/ in the case of EU administrator). Competitions can involve interviews and/or tests, depending on the position.

Graduates in the areas of accountancy, economics, law, marketing, public relations, personnel, HR management and social policy can apply for the role of executive officer in their respective specialised areas. Promotion is very accessible in the civil service, and it occurs purely on merit. Senior positions are usually selected from among the ranks of administrative officers. Training and educational opportunities are excellent; for part-time study that is relevant to your role, your fees are reimbursed and study and exam time is available, while all your training needs will be met by the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS).

The Work

Working in the civil service can involve any of several roles; you could be working with the government to create and implement new policies and services, or you could be dealing directly with the public, concerned with any of the state-provided services. Clerical officers exist in every department of central and local government; they deal with all the paperwork of the civil service, and also analyse and check documents and statistical reports. Executive officers deal with more complex issues, such as researching and drafting proposals, and often function as junior managers. The administrative officer’s work carries more responsibility; tasks can involve the drafting of briefings for ministers, developing public services such as health and education, and allocating financial resources.

The occupation of the inspector of taxes consists of many tasks: determining tax liabilities, assisting members of the public with their tax situations, individual and company audits and – here comes the exciting part – investigative work aimed at combating tax evasion. The third secretary works in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Duties include writing reports and briefings for the various divisions – political, EU, overseas development aid, foreign earnings and Anglo-Irish affairs. While posted abroad, third secretaries provide consular assistance to Irish citizens and also promote trade and cultural links with Ireland. Among other tasks, EU administrators perform managerial duties by supervising junior staff, provide support to EU officials and ministers from EU member states, and work on policy issues such as the environment.

Personal Qualities & Work Environment

Different skills are helpful depending on what area, but certain qualities would be seen as necessary across the board. These would include experience with computers and good communication and organisational skills. An ability to work swiftly under pressure and make important decisions quickly is a fundamental requirement of senior positions. Due to overseas work, the more languages third secretaries and EU administrators have, the better. EU administrators work in institutions such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Court of Justice. Third secretaries initially work for two or three years in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ HQ in Dublin, before being posted in an Irish embassy or consulate abroad.

The Money

Clerical officers earn from around €19, 000 to €31, 000 a year, while executive officers can expect €26, 000 to €42, 000 a year. Third secretaries and administrative officers can both earn between €29, 000 and €51, 000.

An inspector of taxes’ salary ranges from €23, 000 to €44, 000. EU administrators’ pay varies according to grade.

Grade A7 administrators (for graduates with two or three years’ relevant experience, such as postgraduate research) can earn between €52, 000 and €127, 000 a year.

Benefits for EU administrators who live and work away from home include an extra 16 per cent salary, tax breaks and child allowance.

The Jargon

Tax Audit: An official examination and verification of tax records

Red Tape: Excessive formality and routine before action is taken, a traditional criticism of the civil services

Consulate: Effectively a junior embassy, an ambassador is the spokesman for a country while a consul is not. A consul is a lesser-ranking diplomat than the ambassador

Job Titles

Clerical Officer

Executive Officer

Administrative Officer

Inspector of Taxes

Third Secretary

EU Administrator

Further Resources

Public Appointments Service

Chapter House

26/30 Abbey Street Upper

Dublin 1

Tel: 1890 449999


Email: info@publicjobs. ie

The Irish Revenue Commissioners



Department of Foreign Affairs

80 St. Stephen’s Green

Dublin 2

Tel: 01 478 0822

Web: www.

European Personnel Selection Office

Info-Recruitment Office

C80 4/11B-1049 Brussels


Tel: 0032 (0)2 299 31 31

Citizens Information Board

7th FloorHume House


Dublin 4

Tel: (01) 605 9000

Web: is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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