Options after Junior Cycle

As a Junior Cycle student, you will soon be asked to make choices that can influence your future career options. You may decide to go directly into senior cycle and choose one of the three Leaving Certificate programmes, you may decide to do Transition Year or you might want to explore other options such as an apprenticeship

Transition Year

This is a one year course that may be taken by students after completing Junior Cycle. The idea behind this one-year programme is to offer the students the opportunity to explore and discover areas of learning not covered in the typical Leaving Cert curriculum. 

The following are typical of activities that students get involved in during Transition Year.

  • Computer Studies
  • Enterprise Education and Mini-company
  • Social Work and Community Care
  • Scientific Field Trips
  • Outdoor Adventure Sports
  • Media Studies
  • Drama and Theatre Studies
  • Career Investigation
  • Work Experience
  • Art and Crafts

Why consider Transition Year?

  • It gives you a year to mature before facing a demanding Leaving Cert programme
  • It gives you the opportunity to experience new subject
  • It's a year to reflect and investigate what future career area/subjects would suit you best
  • It's a chance to get involved in social/community work, work experience, mini-company, field trips and other interesting projects.

If you are considering taking Transition Year why not get prepared and search a list of work placement opportunities and career focussed TY workshops in our WorkXperience hub here. 

The Leaving Cert

The Leaving Certificate is a two year programme of study. There are three different types of Leaving Cert offered by most schools: 

The Leaving Certificate (Established) - LCE is the most common Leaving Cert Programme. The three core subjects of English, Maths and Irish are generally compulsory for LCE.  Students usually take between six to eight subjects.

The Leaving Cert (Vocational Programme) - LCVP has extra career preparation and enterprise subjects. Students take at least five subjects. These include English, Irish and two subjects from specified subject groupings, and a Modern European language. LCVP students also take three Link Modules on Enterprise Education, Preparation for Work and Work Experience.

The Leaving Certificate (Applied) - LCA is strongly 'vocational' and therefore places a stronger emphasis on jobs and employment. It is designed for students who may wish to proceed directly to the world of work or continue their education using the Further Education & Training (FET) route.

Explore the Three Leaving Certs

Options Outside of School 


Apprenticeships offers an alternative route to education. It is a blended approach of on-the-job employment-based training and off-the-job classroom-based learning. Apprentices earn while they learn and develop work ready skills. 

For craft apprenticeships you will be required to be at least 16 years of age and have achieved at least five grade Cs or above in ordinary level Junior Cert exams. Some new apprenticeships require a Leaving Cert so it is important to research the specific entry requirements. 


Youthreach is a training and work experience programme for early school leavers aged 15 – 20. It offers young people the opportunity to identify options within adult life, and provides them with opportunities to acquire certification. 

Back to Education Initiative (BTEI)

The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) provides part-time courses for over 16s, aimed principally at those who have not completed Leaving Certificate (or equivalent) qualification. There are a variety of courses on offer nationwide with classes offered in the morning, afternoons, evenings or weekends.