My son loves woodwork and furniture design. Are CAO options available?

There is strong demand for graduates in fit-out, furniture and woodworking industries

My son has always been good with his hands. He developed a fascination with wood during transition year and now wants to study furniture design and manufacture in college. What are his options through the CAO?

It’s great when a teenager develops a passion for something so early. If your son feels this is the route for him, there are a quite few courses available through the CAO.

Interior design (TU975) at Technological University Dublin in Grangegorman is one. It’s all about the art or process of designing the interior decoration of a room or building, and how we experience spaces and the objects in them. Graduates find work in design practices, architectural firms, furniture manufacturing firms, display and exhibition companies and as private designers.

There are five other furniture-related courses offered through the CAO at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Connemara’s (formerly Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology) school of design and creative arts. It’s a good fit for those seeking an educational journey in wood that integrates creativity with career options.

Programmes offered include the BSc (Hons) Furniture Design and Manufacture, the BSc (Hons) Furniture Making and Architectural Woodworking, and the initial teacher education (ITE) programme – BSc (Hons) in Education (Design, Graphics, and Construction). The points for these programmes last year ranged from about 335-400.


There is a strong demand for students on the Furniture Design and Manufacture programme and the Furniture Making and Architectural Woodworking programme given the shortage of skilled professionals in the woodworking, fit-out, and furniture industries.

The modern workshops and studios at ATU Connemara provide students with the tools they need to turn their ideas into functional creations. The curriculum also includes managerial and entrepreneurial modules.

A network of strong industry connections ensures students are well prepared for the workforce, and their year-long work placements provide invaluable real-world experience.

For those interested in following a career path in teaching, the ITE programme ensures aspiring educators receive good preparation for the classroom.

The school placement component goes beyond routine observation, encouraging student-teachers to actively engage with students, plan lessons and bring their creative design skills into their delivery in the classroom.

From becoming innovative designers and skilled makers, to taking on roles in project management and construction, or to teaching the next generation, the possibilities in this sector are many and varied.

CAO isn’t the only option, of course. Many colleges of further education offer these options. Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute, for example, offers a one-year level five course in furniture design and making, with the option of progressing to a level six. There are similar courses in Bray, Sligo, Inchicore and elsewhere. Check or for more information.

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