My youngest child had it all figured out when he was six years old. He wanted to be an Olympic luger and live in Germany. He also was planning on being a spy and a doctor — perhaps on days when he wasn’t sledding down an ice-covered track at speeds of more than 80 mph.
You might have had big dreams, too, when you were a kid. But maybe you set aside your goal of becoming a superhero in favor of a more practical career, such as an accountant or computer programmer. That doesn’t mean childhood dream jobs aren’t achievable, though. They just might have to be tweaked a little to be more realistic.
To show that it’s possible to turn childhood fantasy careers into attainable occupations, career coach Elizabeth Koraca examined the ideal jobs the kids in my son’s first-grade class said that they wanted. Then she identified real-world equivalents.
Keep reading to find out whether these kids can turn dream jobs into reality.
Kids' Dream Jobs
The children in my son’s first grade class were asked if they could have any job when they grew up, what it would be? They were told it should be their dream job — the best job they could ever get. Then they were asked why they wanted this job. Some have practical positions in mind, but several are clearly dreaming big.
“When you’re a kid, you gravitate to what you like at that time,” Koraca said. “It might not be the thing you’re best at. It’s your passion.” But it’s important to help kids explore and cultivate their passions. So she pinpointed several alternative professions that would align with their dream jobs and help them follow their passions realistically.
Dream Job: Lego Star
When Nick grows up, he said his dream job is to be a “Lego star.” He didn’t elaborate on what a Lego star is, so it could possibly be someone who is famous for winning Lego building competitions. Or it could be that he wants to be the star of the next Lego movie.
Regardless of what a Lego star actually is, Nick said he wants to be one because he loves Legos. Clearly, he’s passionate enough about the popular plastic construction toy that he wants a career centered around them.
Nick’s love for Legos could easily translate into a real-world job. “If he likes building and using his hands, he could do something like architecture,” Koraca said. Other options could be construction, building management or even commercial real estate.
If his passion for the toy continues, Nick could try to get a job at Lego. At the least, he can continue playing with his favorite toy even as an adult. “Sometimes these things we do as a kid become a side passion project,” Koraca said.
Dream Job: Scientist Who Studies Rocks
Hayden has a more down-to-earth dream job — literally. The first grader said that when she grows up, she wants to be a scientist who studies rocks. The reason why is simple. “I love rocks,” she said.
A child who loves rocks could grow up to become a geologist or archaeologist, Koraca said. If that interest continues, she should take classes that foster it. “Let that curiosity run,” Koraca said. It could lead to a lucrative STEM career.
Another career option for Hayden could be a gemologist, which involves evaluating gems such as diamonds. If she follows that path, she could end up in the jewelry business, Koraca said.
Dream Job: Professional Golfer
Paxton dreams of being a professional golfer. He said it would be a fun job that would allow him to travel. Plus, he thinks being a professional athlete is a path to riches. “I can make a lot of money,” Paxton said about why he wants to be a pro golfer.
If he’s willing to work hard, Paxton could try to make his dream of being a professional golfer come true, Koraca said. But if it doesn’t become the next Tiger Woods, he could become a caddy for a professional golfer. “Some of the top ones make big bucks,” Koraca said.
If Paxton is entrepreneurial, he could open his own golf course, or manage a golf course. There are several things he could do to pursue his passion for golf, she said.
Dream Job: Veterinarian
If Emery could have any job, she said she would be a veterinarian. “I want to be a vet to help sick animals and help to keep animals healthy and safe,” she said.
Being a vet certainly is a realistic career goal — and a smart one. U.S. News & World Report ranks veterinarian among the top 100 best jobs. However, Emery’s love of animals opens the door to a variety of career options if she decides not to become a vet.
Koraca said she could be a zookeeper or open an animal shelter. Or she could open a chain of pet grooming shops. Emery also could help keep animals healthy and safe by working for an animal rights organization. Making a list of what excites her about animals could help her narrow down her options, Koraca said.
Dream Job: Cheerleader
Forget ordinary jobs like being a nurse, teacher or even vet. When Turner Katherine grows up, she said she wants to be a cheerleader. “It would be fun,” said the first grader about why she wants to cheer. Perhaps she’s already been told that if you get a job you love, it doesn’t feel like work.
Getting a job as a cheerleader could be difficult, considering competition is tough and there are only so many professional football and basketball teams. And the cost of becoming a cheerleader can be high when you consider the dance classes, training, attire and grooming you need.
If Turner Katherine loves cheerleading, she could become a cheer coach or open a cheer school, Koraca said. If it’s the dance side of cheerleading she likes, she could pursue a career in dance or teach dance.
Dream Job: Work at Target
Just like many adults, first grader Macy loves Target. What’s not to love about Target’s low prices or its Dollar Spot? And of course, all the trendy items that make it hard to leave without buying a cart full of stuff you never knew you even needed. But Macy loves the retailer so much that her dream job is working there.
Of course, there are plenty of positions Macy might be able to land at Target when she grows up. But if it’s retail she loves, she could open her own store, Koraca said. She could become a designer or work at one of the big fashion houses. Or she could become a personal shopper. “There are so many things you can do when it comes to retail,” Koraca said.
If Macy doesn’t already have a family member working in retail, it would be smart as she gets older and starts to think more seriously about career options to talk to someone in this field to learn more about it, Koraca said.
Dream Job: Police Officer
Not one, but two kids said their dream job was being a police officer. And why not? Police officers are practically super heroes. At least that’s what Logan seems to think. “I want to be a police officer because I can save the day and help others,” he said.
However, Wynn’s motivation for wanting to be a police officer was slightly different. When asked why he wants this job, he said, “So I can tell people to ‘stop in the name of the law.'”
Like many of the dream jobs the kids in my son’s class want, police officer is by no means a far-fetched career goal. However, if these kids decide that they don’t want to put their lives on the line working one of the most dangerous jobs in America, they still could work in the police force behind a desk doing crime analysis, Koraca said. Or they could pursue higher level law enforcement jobs in the FBI or CIA. If it’s understanding what makes criminals do what they do, a career in criminology might be ideal for these boys, she said.
Dream Job: Work at a Cupcake Shop
If you love cupcakes, it makes total sense that you would want to work in a shop that sells them. Or perhaps you realize that there’s money to be made because other people crave cupcakes. Both might reasons might be influencing Brinkley’s career choice.
“I would work at the cupcake shop because I can get a lot of money,” she said. “And I know everyone loves them.”
Once she’s old enough to work, Brinkely could get a job at a cupcake shop to see if it’s a career she actually wants to pursue, Koraca said. If she has a passion for baking, she could be a baker or pastry chef at a restaurant. Or she could open her own cupcake business. Whether her childhood dream job becomes a real job depends on if baking truly is a passion for her or if she just likes to eat cupcakes, Koraca said.
Dream Job: Engineer
Asa has his sights set on a potentially well-paying job. “I would want to be an engineer because I like building things,” he said. If that dream becomes a reality, it could be a smart move because it’s one of the jobs that can make you a millionaire before retirement.
Engineer certainly is a good job choice. But if he likes building, Asa has other options, Koraca said. He could become an architect, contractor or work in real estate.
Dream Job: Work at a Candy Store
Wyatt said his dream job is to work at a candy store. What kid wouldn’t? After all, there’s a reason “like a kid in a candy store” is such a popular expression.
Working in a candy store might seem like a great idea to Wyatt now, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, Koraca said. “I used to work at a candy shop when I was 14,” she said. After eating so much candy, though, she became tired of eating candy and no longer eats it. However, she enjoyed being able to serve customers. If that’s something Wyatt would like, he might want to pursue a career in sales or customer service, she said.
If he truly loves candy, though, and has an entrepreneurial spirit, he could open his own candy store. Or he could work for a company that produces candy.
Dream Job: Doctor
As a first grader, Ruby already has big career ambitions. “When I grow up, I want to be a doctor,” she said. A survey of 500 kids by the website Fatherly actually found that doctor is the top profession girls want to be when they grow up. For boys, on the other hand, it’s a professional athlete.
What Koraca said she liked about Ruby’s job choice is that it’s one of the top 10 best jobs, according to U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of the 100 best jobs Pediatrician is ranked No. 8, and obstetrician is ranked No. 9.
If she wants to pursue a job in the medical field, she has plenty of options beyond being a doctor, Koraca said. She could be a physician assistant, which U.S. News ranked at the No. 3 best job. She also could be a nurse practitioner. “A lot of medical professions are rated the top jobs to have in America,” Koraca said. These are jobs that pay well, and the unemployment rate is low because there is a lot of demand. “If this child wants to be a physician, the sky is the limit for what field they want to practice,” she said.
Dream Job: Brewery Owner
My son, Alexander, no longer wants to be a luger/spy/doctor and now has a new career ambition: brewery owner. “If people need a beer, they could come to my brewery,” he said.
Alexander might have been inspired to be a brewery owner after we took him and his sisters on the Guinness Storehouse tour while we were in Dublin this past summer. More likely, it’s because we’ve jokingly said that he and his dad could open a brewery together when his dad retires (ah, the power of suggestion).
Koraca said I could encourage Alexander’s ambition by taking him on more brewery tours and encouraging him to ask the brewmasters questions about what it’s like to run a brewery. If being a brewery owner doesn’t pan out, he could potentially own a bar or restaurant. But if he’s interested in creating his own product, he could develop a new type of beverage and pitch it to the sharks on “Shark Tank” to get funding, Koraca said.
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About the Author
Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. She also is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances.
U.S. News & World Report named her one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named her one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. She also has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch and more.
She has an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.