Principal Officer

What is the role?

As senior managers in the Civil Service, Principal Officers have a key role in advising on government policy and have responsibility for its subsequent implementation. Typically, as heads of units or functions, they oversee the implementation of Departments’ objectives and are ultimately responsible for providing the leadership required to deliver a responsive and inclusive service.

It is a diverse role which can vary from Department to Department and from post to post. This role would involve acting as a key participant in the senior management process of Departments/Offices with a critical influencing role in implementing or advising on government policy in the economic, financial, international, environmental and/or social arenas.

You may have responsibility in areas such as:

  • Policy
  • Leading large teams of people
  • Managing frontline service delivery
  • Developing policy and legislation
  • Implementing cross-functional initiatives

Furthermore, as a Principal Officer you may be required to act as a representative for your Departments/Offices in the media, at Oireachtas Committees, and may also represent the country at a European and international level.

What are the requirements?

You might also find it useful to look at the competency framework for this level.

Further details on the particular skills and requirements for this role can be found in the Information Booklet for each campaign at this level. An example of an Information Booklet for a recent campaign can be found here.


Starting salary is 81,767.

Learning & Development:

The Training/Development opportunities you might experience in the Public Service depend on several things, including the specific role you have been offered, the Organisation/ Department you have been placed in, and the skills required to carry out your job in the role.

Depending on the role, as an Principal Officer you could expect to advance your personal skills in a wide range of different ways, and you could have the opportunity to up-skill and develop yourself professionally through high-quality training programmes, mentoring and support systems, internal training initiatives, and many more – all in order to make sure you have the skills and knowledge required to succeed in a fast-paced and results-oriented role in the Public Service.