Well, I did my leaving cert in 2002, and have used many bits of what I studied since then in my work. There’s bits of what I studied that weren’t useful after the exam, but surprisingly, most of what I studied comes in handy (either directly in my work, or helping me to understand what it is that my colleagues do).
I’m currently in the fourth year of a PhD. You probably don’t need to take more than ten years to get to this point, it’s possible to start a PhD directly from an undergraduate degree (so four years for a BSc and three of PhD would have you caught up with me).
I did my undergraduate degree in 2003-2006, then my post graduate degree in 2006-2008, PhD (Sept2008-Dec2012), and then i got job in Industry (Jan 2013-Aug2014) and then Sept 2014- till date I am here in Dublin as a Marie Curie Researcher 🙂
So I studied for 9 years before getting my first job:)