• Code: OA
  • Certification:

    QQI Level 5 Certificate in Community Care (5M2786)
    First Aid (BIFE)
    People Handling (BIFE)
    Child Protection (TUSLA)
  • Duration: One Year


This course in Special Needs Assisting and Intellectual Disability studies is designed to provide students with the knowledge, practical skills and qualifications required to pursue a career as a Special Needs Assistant or Personal Assistant to individuals of all ages in a variety of Educational contexts and Community care settings.

Programme of Study
  • Special Needs Assisting
  • Human Growth & Development
  • Intellectual Disability Studies
  • Understanding Special Needs
  • Care Provision & Practice
  • Safety & Health at Work
  • Work Experience
  • Communications
  • Work Placement in an SNA setting (60 hours)

Components subject to change

Entry Requirements

One of the following:

  • Leaving Certificate or its equivalent. Extenuating circumstances may be considered
  • Leaving Certificate Applied
  • Full QQI Level 4 Award
  • Mature Applicants - experience will be considered in lieu of formal qualifications

Additional Course requirements:

  • 2 References
  • Garda vetting is a requirement for this programme
  • Police Clearance required where a person has lived in a Country other than Ireland for a period of longer than 6 consecutive Months.
Career Opportunities
  • Employment in a variety of educational contexts and community care settings
Higher Education Progression*

Examples of potential college courses include:


  • Advanced Special Needs Assistant (QQI Level 6)

Carlow College:

  • Applied Social Studies-Professional Social Care level 7 (PC404)

Trinity College Dublin:

  • Deaf Studies level 8 (TR016)

TUD Technological University Dublin - (Grangegorman Campus):

  • Social Care level 8 (TU996)

Third level progression opportunities for SNA learners are continually being developed. Please visit www.cao.ie or careersportal.ie for the most up to date progression information

Course Co-ordinator

Anne O Malley

Where are they now?

“My name is Yordanka Smyth. I completed level 5 Community Care, SNA for primary and post primary schools. I really enjoyed my year at BIFE and the course was beyond my expectations. 
The support BIFE gave me was so helpful and motivating. The knowledge and skills that I learned in the space of one year is incredible. BIFE really helped to improve my IT skills and my English. I had such a successful year in BIFE and I can definitely see myself going back to learn more. .” - Yordanka Smyth

“I am acquiring new capabilities and developing an in-depth understanding of development and learning of children with special needs. Presently I am on work experience in a post Primary School where integration, inclusion and equal opportunities are supported for every student” - Sandra Savage

“I like this course as I feel like our teachers want the best for us! I am learning new skills which are going to stand to me through life” - Bryony

“I like the course. I think that it is interesting learning about the different needs of everyone including people with extra needs. I am doing placement in a primary school where I am learning new skills” - Shauna

“Since starting in September I’ve already learned so much. I’m very interested in this course.” - Leah

“So far in my course I am finding it very intensive in a positive way.” - Jake

“I have just started the level 5 SNA this year. I love it so far. It’s opening my eyes to how different every child is and what challenges they have to face on a daily basis.” - Deirdre

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