When I grow up, I want to be a…

children thinking about careersDo children still grow up dreaming of being an astronaut? What careers does the average 3-year old aspire to? In a survey conducted last month by the website Fatherly, children ages 1-10 were asked what they want to be when they grow up. While a few set their sights on a career as “a kitty cat,” most talked about the kinds of jobs parents might hope for. Here’s a summary of the survey results.

We aspire to what we know. Lots of children said they’d like to grow up to be doctors, teachers, firefighters, veterinarians and police officers. These are occupations children are likely to come in contact with, and many relate to children’s desire to help others.

top 10 professions kids want to be

The #1 career choice was professional athlete. Many of the kids who chose this career will dedicate themselves to developing skills and discipline throughout their school sports career, so maybe it’s not a bad thing! Later, show them how likely they are to earn a living as an athlete (fewer than 1% of high school athletes will go pro), but for now, take those dreams and run!

Regionally, doctor tops the list in both the northeast and southwest, while teaching is the most popular profession for children in the midwest. Veterinarian wins out in the southeast, while professional athlete is tops in the west/ northwest.

Overall, girls’ top choices were doctor, followed by teacher, scientist and chef/baker. Boys led with pro athlete, then firefighter, engineer, astronaut. About 35 percent of all kids expressed interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Interestingly, girls indicated more interest in STEM careers than boys. It looks like efforts to encourage children’s interest in math and science careers may be paying off.

What happens to dream job hopes with age? Between launching into school, participating in activities, and media exposure, children encounter new occupations every year.  Results suggest that a broad range of experiences can give children the opportunity to dream in many directions.  Reassuringly, there are lots of candidates for Superhero positions, at least in the 3-year old set.


Some answers to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” didn’t show up on the charts, but are worth noting for posterity, including:

  • Fixer
  • Mattress Tester
  • Dinosaur
  • Hedge Fund Manager
  • Gold Miner
  • Taller

Career counselors encourage adults to reach back to early childhood imaginings for the nugget of who they really are. Take note of your children’s career hopes; there may be a seed that will bloom into a satisfying and successful career.

Check out CareerOneStop to explore your own career dreams.

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One comment on “When I grow up, I want to be a…
  1. Kriti says:

    Nice Article!
    Came here while searching articles for International students on Yahoo

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