The Most Popular Childhood Dream Jobs in Each US State | The Ellie Sparkles Show
All of us at Ellie Sparkles HQ remember how it felt to be a little kid with big dreams, which is why we care so much about encouraging children today to reach for the stars!
One thing most kids like to daydream about is what they want to be when they grow up. But which jobs feature the most in kids’ dreams for the future?
To find out, we asked 1,000 5-8 years olds in the US what they want to be when they grow up. We also asked what’s most important to them when picking a job and what their dream work schedule would look like, to reveal how children today are picturing their future careers.
Since 81% of parents in the US said they regularly talk to their children about their aspirations in our recent survey, we also spoke to parents to find out what expectations they had for their child's future job, and whether they had any influence on these dream careers.
The Most Popular Childhood Dream Jobs Across America
1. Becoming a Doctor, Nurse or Healthcare Professional tops the list of childhood dream jobs in the US
2. A Teacher is the second most popular childhood dream job in the US
3. A Scientist is the third most popular career that kids want to pursue
4. 13% of children dream of being a TikToker, YouTuber or Vlogger when they grow up
5. Becoming an Actor rounds up the top five childhood dream jobs in the US
As well as the more common choices, we also found out about some slightly more obscure – and super imaginative – dream jobs from our focus group.
We spoke to children ages 5-8 year who shared their goals of becoming a ‘Queen Princess’, ‘Toy tester’, ‘Robot inventor’, ‘Cowgirl’ and working at an ice cream shop. We can definitely see the appeal of all of these!
The Most Popular Childhood Dream Job in Each US State
After revealing the most popular childhood dream jobs across America, we also wanted to take a closer look at which dream jobs came out on top in each US state.
We found that becoming a Healthcare professional pops up in most states across the country, which is expected since it was the most common dream job overall. States, where this job is particularly popular with kids, includes California, Florida, New York, Texas and Washington.
‘Teacher’ also appears in a few different states as the most popular job, topping the list in Arkansas, Wisconsin and Mississippi (where it ties for first place with Healthcare Professional).
Meanwhile, some states have more unique choices for their most popular childhood dream job. New Mexico is the only state where ‘Spy/Detective’ came out on top, while Nebraska was the only one to choose ‘Zoo Keeper’ most often.
Hawaii was also unique in its top choices of ‘Journalist or News Anchor’ and ‘Social Media Influencer’, which tied for first place.
What is most important to children in their future jobs?
So, now we know which specific jobs are the most inspiring to kids around the country, what exactly makes these jobs so appealing?
To find out, we asked the children we surveyed to tell us what is the most important thing to them in their future career.
We were super impressed to see that over a third of kids said that helping other people is the most important thing to them in their future role, making this the most popular answer overall. This is also probably the motivation behind the majority of kids dreaming of a career in healthcare, which is all about helping others.
‘Helping other people’ was followed by the second most important goal of having fun (28%) and the third of earning lots of money (13%), which we think are both pretty important when picking a dream career.
Working with animals (10%) and protecting the environment (5%) rounded out the top five most important things for kids to do in their future jobs.
What is important to parents for their child's future job?
We also asked parents what they deem the most important aspect of their child's future role. Here are the top five answers:
As for parents’ wishes, the vast majority prioritize their child’s happiness above all else, with 88% saying that their child being happy in their future job is more important than how much they earn.
A huge 71% also said it’s important that their child helps others through their future job, so we reckon they’ll be pretty happy that kids’ greatest wish is to do a job that directly involves helping people.
What does a kid's dream work schedule and setup look like?
Our survey revealed that kids across America wish to work around 5 hours a day, 4 days a week, which is a little less than the average working week most of us are used to.
The majority would also like to retire at around 50 years old; given that the average US parent expects their child to get their first job by the age of 17, this would give them 33 years in the working world.
We also asked kids what they want from their career, here were the top answers:
When it comes to what children want most from their future job, 73% said that they want the freedom to choose whether to work from home or an office. While over half said that they want to work from home all of the time. Thanks to the rising popularity of home and hybrid working over the past few years, this seems like a pretty realistic goal.
Kids’ sense of adventure is also alive and well, with just under half of kids wanting to work abroad in their future role and nearly two-thirds wanting to travel the world.
Out of all the children surveyed, a massive 81% said that they want to be a leader – which is the kind of dreaming big that we love to see.
Who has the biggest influence on a child's dream career?
Our survey revealed, 25% of parents stated they have previously put pressure on their child to choose a certain career path. A quarter of parents also stated they would like their child to follow the same career path as them. But just how much are kids listening to their parents’ wishes?
We asked kids who has inspired them to pick their dream career and here is what they had to say:
According to our survey, it seems parents are having the most influence on their children’s career choices as nearly 60% of kids said that their parents inspired them to pick their dream job.
24% also cited their favorite TV shows and films as their biggest career inspiration, 23% gave credit to their grandparents, and 22% said they were inspired by their favorite YouTubers – like positive role models such as Ellie Sparkles.
Clearly, childhood dream careers don’t always work out, as only 44% of parents we surveyed are currently working in the job they dreamed of when they were a kid. But even so, 67% said they are happy in their current job – even if it’s not the one they used to dream about.
At Sparkles HQ, we agree with parents that kids’ happiness is the most important thing. Whatever your children dream of doing in their future, we hope they end up doing something that fills them with joy every day!
Sources and Methodology
We surveyed 1,000 children ages 5 to 8 years old across the United States to reveal the most popular jobs kids dream of being when they grow up.
No data was available for South Dakota, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Montana.
The children's parents were also surveyed to reveal the expectations of their child's future career and their influence on these aspirations.
This research was commissioned by The Ellie Sparkles Show.