Top 15 Kids' Dream Jobs

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Top 15 Kids' Dream Jobs

Low angle view of four children pretending to be grown-ups
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Do you remember what career you dreamed of having when you were a kid? If you wanted to be a superhero or a wizard, you quickly realized that those jobs don’t actually exist. However, there are a number of actual jobs that kids often dream of having. Kids typically want these jobs because of the excitement, the fame, or the chance to help other people. Whether or not children realize it, many of these jobs vary drastically in terms of experience needed, education required, and salary.

Here is a list of 15 of the top kids’ dream jobs, and their average (median) salaries (based on 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook). Does your childhood dream job make the list? Is your current job on the list?

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Dancer/Choreographer

Child dancer
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While many young children dream of becoming ballerinas, there are a number of other types of dancers, including modern, tap, and jazz dancers. Many dancers work for a particular dance company. Some may also perform on TV or in music videos; they might also sing or act as well as dance.

Other dancers perform at casinos, on cruises, or in theme parks. Dancers might also become dance instructors or choreographers, developing and then teaching dance movements to other dancers. Choreographers earn an average of $23.19/hour. Dancers earn an average of $13.74/hour.

Some dancers receive an annual salary, but others are paid by the hour or performance.

Dancer/choreographer salary: $13.74-$23.19/hour

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Actor

Girl dressed in costume and makeup
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When kids watch television or a movie, they often dream of becoming as famous as the actors on screen. In reality, there are many actors who are not stars.

These actors may work in television, film, theater, or even audiobooks or electronic media. Actors do not often work year round, and are therefore paid by the hour or by the performance. Therefore, actors may hold other jobs to earn money in between roles.

Actor salary: $18.70/hour

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Musician

Boy playing on pots and pans
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Many kids dream of being professional singers or members of a rock band. While they might be dreaming of becoming as famous as their favorite singers or bands, most musicians do not achieve that kind of fame.

While musicians might perform in concert halls for screaming fans, they may also play primarily in recording studios, or perform at bars or private events (such as weddings or private parties). Musicians may perform in a variety of styles, ranging from rock to classical to jazz. Many musicians do not work year round, and are often paid by the hour or by the performance.

Musician salary: $25.14/hour

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Teacher

Child playing school
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Many kids who enjoy school dream of becoming teachers. Teacher salaries vary depending on the type of school and the grade level. For example, preschool teachers earn an average annual salary of $28,790, while elementary teachers make $55,490, middle school teachers earn $ 56,720, and high school teachers make $58,030.

Most teacher positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, and public school teachers require state-issued certification or licensure.

Teacher salary: $28,790-58,030/year

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Scientist

Kid dressed as scientist
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Any kid who has enjoyed making putty or “goo” out of glue and starch has likely dreamed of becoming a scientist. Of course, there are many different types of scientists.

Life scientists (who work in fields such as biology, conservation, and medical science), physical scientists (who study fields such as physics, chemistry, and astronomy) and social scientists (who study how people behave) make an average salary of $63,340. Many scientists work primarily in laboratories and offices, although many also engage in fieldwork.

The scientists who make the least amount of money on average are agricultural and food science technicians, who earn an average salary of $37,550.

The scientists who make the most money on average are the physicist and astronomer, with an average annual salary of $114,870.

Scientist salary: $37,550-$114,870/year

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Athlete

Boy playing soccer
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Many kids hope to become professional athletes so they can play their favorite sports and get paid for it. Becoming a paid professional athlete takes a lot work: athletes practice for hours a day with teammates and trainers, and often work regularly with strength trainers.

Athletes may perform in leagues at a variety of levels – the league in which an athlete plays often determines how much he or she earns. Those who do become full-time athletes often have short careers due to the physical demands of the job. Some athletes become coaches or scouts later in their careers.

Athlete salary: $47,710/year

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Firefighter

Boy dressed in firefighter costume
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Some children dream of being firefighters – they often see it as an exciting, courageous job that also helps people. Firefighters’ duties range from putting out fires to driving fire trucks to rescuing and sometimes treating victims.

Some firefighters specialize in handling hazardous materials or managing forest fires. Firefighters typically need to pass a series of written and physical tests, and often hold an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification.

Firefighter salary: $48,030/year

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Detective

Girl playing detective
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Kids often read books and watch shows about detectives or spies who solve mysteries, and want to do the same when they grow up. Detectives and criminal investigators collect evidence of and solve crimes.

Many detectives and investigators work for the government (either at the local, state, or federal level), but there are also private detectives who work for individuals, attorneys, and businesses. They may perform background checks of employees, conduct surveillance, or investigate particular crimes.

On average, private investigators make less than other investigators: they make an average annual salary of $48,190.

Detective salary: $48,190-$61,600/year

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Writer

Girl writing in notebook
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Kids who enjoy reading and writing stories may dream of becoming writers. Not all writers publish novels, however. Some authors write content for magazines, movie scripts, songs, advertisements, or online publications. Many writers work full time, but some are self-employed, so they might work part time or have very flexible schedules.

Others become technical writers, which involves writing articles, instruction manuals, and other texts that clearly lay out complex technical information. Technical writers earn $69,850, which is more on average than other writers. 

Writer salary: $61,240-69,850/year

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Police Officer

Girl dressed as police officer
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Children often dream of becoming police officers – like their favorite superheroes, police officers fight crime and help citizens. There are different types of police officers; there are uniformed police officers responsible for looking for signs of criminal activity in a geographic district, as well as highway patrol officers who enforce traffic laws.

There are also transit police who patrol railroad and transit stations, and sheriffs who enforce law on the county level. Most policemen must graduate from their agency’s training program in order to become a policeman.

Police officer salary: $61,600/year 

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Astronaut

Boy dressed as astronaut
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Many kids dream of going into space when they grow up. While NASA is no longer planning missions to the moon or Mars, it is still hiring astronauts to work aboard the International Space Station and further other efforts for both deep space exploration and potential commercial space transportation.

Astronauts have a variety of backgrounds and experience; some have degrees in engineering, physics, or medicine. Some come directly from the military.

According to NASA’s website, salaries for astronauts are based on the federal government’s general schedule (GS) pay scale for grades GS-11 to GS-14. These grades range in salary from $66,026 to $144,566.

Astronaut salary: $66,026-$144,566/year

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Pilot

Boy flying cardboard plane
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What child hasn’t dreamed of being able to fly? Pilots fly airplanes or helicopters. Commercial pilots fly aircrafts for hire; they might transport people or cargo. Some commercial pilots are involved in rescue operations, crop dusting, and aerial photography.

Commercial pilots make an average annual salary of $77,200. Airline pilots (along with copilots), in contrast, fly on a fixed schedule for airlines. On average, they make more than commercial pilots, with an annual salary of $127,820.

Pilot salary: $77,200- $127,820/year

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Veterinarian

Girl playing veterinarian
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Children who love pets might dream of becoming veterinarians. Vets diagnose and treat animals. They might work with pets, livestock, or zoo animals. Most vets work in clinics, but some travel to work on farms, laboratories, or zoos.

Veterinarians must complete four years of school to receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD). They also require a state license.

Veterinarian salary: $88,770/year

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Lawyer

Boy playing office
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If you were good at talking your way out of punishments when you were little, your parents might have said you’d make a good lawyer. Of course, the actual workload of a lawyer is probably a bit more difficult than children imagine. Lawyers must go through three years of law school and pass a written bar examination.

Most lawyers work in private or corporate legal offices, but some work for local, state, and federal governments. There are numerous types of lawyers ranging from criminal and defense lawyers to environmental attorneys.

Most lawyers work very long hours, but they can also make very good salaries: the average salary for a lawyer is $118,160.

Lawyer salary: $118,160/year

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Doctor

Boy playing doctor
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Some children want to become doctors in order to help people. There are a variety of types of doctors, ranging from general practitioners to pediatricians to anesthesiologists.

While physicians can make a very good salary, the path to becoming a doctor is a long one: doctors require not only 4 years of undergraduate school, but also 4 years of medical school, and 3-8 years of residency, depending on the doctor’s specialty.

Some children also dream of becoming nurses. Nurses require a degree in nursing, but this degree takes less time to complete than a medical school degree. Registered nurses make an average of $68,450.

Doctor salary: $208,000/year

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