25 May, 2022 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

5 Reasons to Upskill to SNA Level 6 at Portobello Institute

An SNA level 5 qualification is required to work as a special needs assistant in Ireland and is an essential introduction to the role of an SNA and theories in special needs education.

Portobello Institute’s QQI Level 5 Minor Award in Special Needs Assisting is a qualification that allows you to work as a special needs assistant in schools, hospitals and care homes.

During the course, you acquire not only knowledge but empathy and understanding crucial to your future role as support to persons needing assistance in their learning.

This course prepares you for our QQI Level 6 Minor award in special needs assisting should you wish to further your studies.

Why do so many people upskill to Level 6 SNA?

Upskilling to progress your learning and knowledge further than the level you currently have has a range of impressive benefits. But you may be wondering why so many bother progressing when they can get a job with the level 5 qualification? 

1. Improves Career Opportunities

While the level 5 qualification may meet the basic requirements needed to work as an SNA, holding a level 6 qualification puts you in the position to really go for the job that you want. You are showing the employer extra commitment, passion and interest by proving that you studied your topic to a more advanced level.

According to our SNA tutor Clare Bowman, “I have been on a couple of panels where SNAs are being hired and the one thing I would say is that principals are impressed by the Level 6. I definitely think it makes an applicant stand out.” 

2. Keep up with the sector

The professionalisation of the SNA sector is always developing, meaning that the standard depth of knowledge and study needed for roles is increasing all the time. This is also true across society in general. More and more people hold degrees, postgraduate and master's qualifications in their chosen area and SNA is no different. 

3. Further Study Progression

Once you catch the bug for learning there is no stopping you as your interests go deeper and deeper into the topics that you cannot get enough of. Progressing to your level 6 SNA qualification gives you the grounding to go further into a degree in Inclusive Education for example which can open doors for massive career progression and personal development.

4. Follow Your Passion and Deepen Your Knowledge 

By studying the topic that you love in greater depth you are honouring yourself by fulfiling your potential and following your passion. You also gain deeper knowledge not only from the course content but from the tutor's insights and networking with peers on the course. A Portobello graduate of the Level 6 SNA course, Sarah, said: “Level 6 definitely deepens your knowledge and makes you look at special needs from a different perspective like the assessment process versus care needs. Understanding the assessment process has actually helped me in my job in a mainstream school.” 

5. Gain Confidence in Your Role 

As with any job, the more knowledge you have about the in-depth reasons why and how to carry out your job, the better and more confident you will be at doing it. You will be able to speak more confidently and explain theories and reasons behind the things you are working on. You will feel more confident in your ability to work with multi-disciplinary teams you may work with and understand the entire context surrounding the work you do with a child or adult.

Read more: Tutor 'Boosted Our Confidence' for Career Change to SNA


When it comes to whether you should continue to level 6 SNA qualification or not, the reasons point to a resounding yes. You have nothing to lose by progressing your studies further, you can only gain more knowledge, more opportunities and more confidence in yourself.

If you are interested in any SNA qualifications at Portobello Institute you can see our upcoming courses and apply online directly here

If you have any questions about any of our SNA programmes or booking packages please reach out to our course admissions advisor, George Boylan, who can answer any questions you may have and guide you in the right direction.

You can email him at george.boylan@portobelloinstitute.com or call him on 01 892 0041 or book a one on one consultation call at a time that suits you using this link here.

Read more: #DEARForDyslexia – STEAM Education Bringing Reading to Life with Interactive Storytelling

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