Having studied a particular degree, you may decide that you wish to change your career path. A conversion course is designed to enable graduates of one discipline to acquire a qualification in a different discipline at Postgraduate Diploma or Masters Level.
These courses generally offer a strong career focus and link directly to the skills and knowledge sought after by employers in that industry. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, further study is potentially a worthwhile consideration to ensure you stay as employable as possible during what could be a challenging economic situation. It is essential, however, that you give careful consideration to your decision to ensure you are doing it for the right reasons and your career development.
With this in mind, you should research your career options and undertake self-assessment to find out what your skills are, what your interests are and what you want out of a career. It may also be a good idea to make an appointment with your career coach to discuss your options.
What is a conversion course?
Conversion courses are generally Level 8 or Level 9 programmes and are between 1 and 2 years long. Some pathways that take longer, for example, graduate entry into medicine and some allied health professions.
What disciplines can you study?
Conversion courses are available in many discipline areas - with a high concentration in Business, IT and the Arts/Humanities (including Media, PR, Teaching, Law and Social Work)There are also options in the areas of health sciences, engineering and built environment, but the entry requirements for these often include the study of specific undergraduate qualification.
What are the benefits of a conversion course?
There are many benefits to pursuing a conversion course. The option to change your original career path can relieve the pressure felt by final year students and new graduates when making career decisions. Conversion courses can provide a “second chance” for those individuals who want to follow a chosen career but may not have met the original CAO points requirements when applying for their undergraduate degree. Similarly, they can benefit graduates from non-vocational courses who may discover new interests and skills during their degree, which led them to consider changing their career path.
The conversion course itself will equip you with the relevant skills desired by employers while providing you with future employment prospects and an increased level of mobility in the job market.
What are the entry requirements?
Disciplines such as Arts/Humanities, Business and IT generally accept graduates with a Level 8 degree from any background. There can be stiff competition for some of the more popular courses with higher entry requirements; however, most courses require a 2:1 qualification in your primary degree.
Courses in the areas of Education, Health/Medicine or Engineering, tend to have stricter entry requirements and may specify a related undergraduate degree, additional work experience, interviews and entrance examinations.
Be sure to check the entry requirements for the conversion course you are considering before applying and contact the course co-ordinators if you have any questions.
What do employers think of conversion courses?
Conversion courses are well respected by employers as there are advantages to hiring graduates with a broader educational background. These courses offer the opportunity to demonstrate transferable skills, interest and commitment - qualities and skills that are highly regarded by recruiters. Committing to change career direction can also demonstrate personal motivation and drive, which can set you apart from other graduates when applying for graduate positions.
What about fees and how can I fund my postgraduate qualification?
Fees for conversion courses range from €3,000 to €15,000. Many students will self-fund their course, but you can apply to SUSI for a postgraduate fee contribution award. This will be means-tested, and students must meet certain financial criteria.
There are also Government initiatives such as Springboard and ICT Skills Conversions which fund free or heavily subsidised places in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Some students may be eligible for a Back to Education Allowance if they are unemployed, a single parent or have a disability and are receiving social welfare.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before committing to a Postgraduate qualification?
- Does the course offer a pathway into a career area of interest to you?
- Does it allow you to develop relevant industry skills and knowledge?
- Does it give a professional qualification?
- What is the reputation of the course?
- What have graduates of the course done since graduation?
- What is the mode and duration of study?
- What is the cost of the course?
You can read more about Conversion programmes available at TU Dublin here.