Niamh Lister – Following Her Passion with a Pathway to PE Teaching at Portobello Institute

Graduate Diploma in Physical Education


Many of us tried new hobbies and discovered new passions during the lockdowns of 2020 and 28-year-old Niamh Lister from Meath was one of them.

After studying communications at university, following it up with a master’s and working in technology sales for a couple of years, Niamh delved into the world of health and fitness by taking on a course to become a Strength and Conditioning coach during the pandemic.

I quickly realised that helping individuals through health and fitness was my passion and decided to take steps into making this my full-time career.

“So in January 2022 I quit my job in tech sales and enrolled in Portobello Institute while working as a substitute teacher in a local secondary school,” she said. 

Niamh gained her Graduate Diploma in Physical Education at Portobello. If you already hold a degree, this course provides you with the modules required to gain access to a Professional Master of Education (PME) on your journey to becoming a PE teacher. It also allows you access to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education International and an MSc in Physical Education.

Niamh chose to follow her passion and fulfil her potential by becoming a PE Teacher. This course at Portobello Institute granted her the requirements needed to take on her PME at the University of Limerick which she has recently finished her first year of.

Niamh shared some insights into her career change to help inspire others who want to follow their passion.

I worked for several years in the technology sales industry across both Dublin and London, travelling regularly and learning about different businesses and how they operate. ` 

I enjoyed working in technology and business but I gained very little fulfillment from my job at the time. I felt stuck and had little motivation for my day-to-day duties.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and I was working remotely in tech sales, I enrolled in a course to become a Strength and Conditioning coach and soon began training individuals and GAA teams both online and in person.

When I began to coach part-time I got a huge amount of job satisfaction and enjoyment from what I was doing and knew that I wanted to make this my full-time career. I knew that going back to full-time education would mean some huge sacrifices but fortunately, Portobello provided a great stepping stone into full-time education,” she said.

Deciding to change careers and taking on studies while still working can be daunting, this is why Niamh found Portobello’s approach so accessible.

I chose Portobello mainly due to the flexible learning options – this meant that I could continue to work in a school and attend lectures on the weekend.

“With the online learning platform and recorded lectures, I could also catch up on any missed lectures during the week which made it stress-free and meant I could balance my time between working, coaching, playing sports and studying.

I feel that the PE top-up in Portobello was right for me in that it helped me gain a place in a master’s degree that will allow me to pursue a career in teaching. Flexible learning allowed me to continue to work and study which I found very beneficial in taking this course through Portobello as opposed to another institution.

The PE top-up in Portobello was very important for me in gaining the credits to allow me to apply for the masters in PE teaching in UL,” she said. 

Niamh recently finished the first of two years of her PME at UL and looks forward to completing the course and becoming a fully qualified PE Teacher and working in a local secondary school.

Portobello Institute has a dynamic sports department with a range of top qualifications for the next step in your career.

Portobello Institute offers pathways to becoming a qualified PE teacher. We offer a three-year level 8 BA (Hons) in Physical Education which is awarded by Liverpool John Moore’s University for those who are starting out on their journey.

Others who may already have a sports or teaching qualification may gain a Graduate Diploma in Physical Education to continue on the pathway to PE Teaching.

We also offer an MSc in Physical Education combined with the Postgraduate Certificate in Education International & QTS package. QTS is a UK teaching qualification, application for registration with the Teaching Council of Ireland can subsequently be made through the “qualified abroad route” and is reviewed by the council on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested in any of our sports courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert sports advisor Jason Lester, email [email protected] or call 01 892 0029. 

Read More: Discover PE Teaching as a Rewarding and Active Career 





Niamh Lister – Following Her Passion with a Pathway to PE Teaching at Portobello Institute Niamh Lister – Following Her Passion with a Pathway to PE Teaching at Portobello Institute