Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Two-year course can set you up for agriculture career

The first of the HETAC-accredited courses on offer from Teagasc is a two-year course called the Higher Certificate in Agriculture, which is offered by three partnerships of Teagasc agricultural colleges and Institutes of Technology.

Students must apply through the CAO system and need passes in five Leaving Certificate subjects at ordinary level (grade D3 or better). The subjects passed must include maths and either English or Irish.

In 2010, the course requirement for most of the Teagasc/IT courses averaged around 280 points, a rise of some 40 points since 2009 applications.

In some cases, the points jumped from 'All Qualified Applicants' or AQA on the CAO system to 280 points.

As mentioned previously, students who hold relevant FETAC awards at Level 5 or Level 6 and mature students may also apply for the Higher Certificate in Agriculture.

In terms of job prospects, students who complete the higher certificate generally go on to careers in farming, farm management, environmental management and monitoring, sales and marketing, quality control and the wider agricultural industry.

Clonakilty College and Cork Institute of Technology combine to offer the Higher Certificate in Agriculture as course code CR010, while Kildalton College and Waterford Institute of Technology join forces to offer course code WD098. Ballyhaise College and Dundalk Institute of Technology offer it as course code DK685.

During year one, students spend four days a week at the agricultural college and one day a week at the Institute of Technology, while in year two they complete work placements in March, April and May.

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Graduates of the Higher Certificate in Agriculture are eligible to apply for the add-on Bachelor of Science Level 7 in Agriculture at Institutes of Technology or to apply for the Bachelor of Agricultural Science Level 8 degree at UCD.

Students should be aware that there is another course, the Higher Certificate in Agricultural Science, which, although it has a very similar name, is quite different in its content.

Offered by Kildalton College and Waterford IT, the Higher Certificate in Agricultural Science goes by the CAO code of WD009. The aim of this two-year third level course is to train people for the agri-service industry, as field or laboratory technicians or sales personnel.

In year one, students study biology, chemistry, computer applications, maths and physics, while in year two they move on to subjects such as soil management, animal production, crop production, mechanisation and safety analysis, food microbiology and statistics.

Holders of the Higher Certificate in Agricultural Science are eligible to progress to the add-on Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Science at Waterford IT. However, and this should be noted by students who are aiming for UCD, graduates of this course are not eligible to apply for direct entry to the UCD B Ag-Science degree course.

For mechanically minded (or even tractor-mad) students, Pallaskenry College and Limerick IT offer the Level 6 Higher Certificate in Technology and Agricultural Mechanisation.

This course trains students to be skilled technicians for the farm machinery industry and students can secure jobs in machinery retail, as machinery operators and machinery manufacturing industries.

At the end of this two-year course, students can progress into the second year of the DN047 Engineering Technology Level 8 Programme at UCD or into the add-on Ordinary Bachelor Degree in Engineering (Agricultural) Level 7 at the Institute of Technology, Tralee, Co Kerry.

Caitriona Murphy

Irish Independent