Dream Jobs Don’t Align With the Most In-Demand Jobs

Every one of us had a dream job when we were young.  Think about how many times you were asked by your parents “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Personally I always wanted to be either a professional baseball player or a vet.  Unfortunately I did not possess the skills to excel in either career. Never once growing up did I think about a career in marketing.  My passion for that career path came much later in life.

While many teens dream of professions in music, sports, and fashion design, research shows that most teens will eventually have to give up their dream job aspirations to take less glamourous jobs.  New research shows a wide disparity between the jobs teens want and the jobs available. A new study by C+R Research found that 20 percent of teens want one of the 15 jobs that make up just one percent of the American workforce (think: musicians, athletes, video game designers, etc.). That’s the equivalent of 30 million people vying for 1.5 million jobs.  The study includes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Services.

They surveyed 476 teens to find out exactly what they want to be when they grow up, and how those dreams fit into current workplace realities.  They wanted to see how much disparity exists between the jobs we dream of growing up and the dreams we’ll most likely get. The results may surprise you:

  • Of the 25 most common jobs in America, only seven percent of teens aspire to hold one of them (registered nurses, construction workers, accountants, elementary school teachers, sales reps wholesale and manufacturing).
  • Of the 25 jobs expected to grow the most by 2024, just three percent of teens aspire to hold one of them (nurse practitioners, physical therapists, statisticians, physician assistants, web developers, forensic science technicians).
  • 15 percent of Americans currently have office/administrative jobs (the largest of 22 segments of the U.S. labor force according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Our survey showed that none of the surveyed American teens list this as a job they want to do when they grow up.
  • 17 percent said that they honestly don’t know what job they want.
  • Two percent said they just want to be happy and healthy.
  • One percent said they want to be in the military or an intelligence agency.
  • One percent said they want to own their own business.
  • One percent said they want to be a full time parent.  6.8 million Americans currently identify as stay-at home mothers and 420,000 as stay-at home fathers.
  • Surprisingly enough, only one percent said they just want to be rich.  The highest tax bracket starts at $ 415,000 of annual household income, and just two percent of Americans earn that amount or more.

The study seems to show that a large percentage of American teenagers job wants don’t seem to fit with current workplace realities. Office, sales and administrative positions currently make up 25 percent of the American workforce.  The survey found that only one percent  of surveyed teens aspire to have those jobs. At some point most adults have to give up their dream jobs for jobs that are available and realistic.

While this data may not be totally surprising to most, it could signal a bigger problem for the future of the American workforce.  These in-demand jobs are still going to need to be filled regardless of whether or not teens aspire to do them. While no teens responded that they aspire for jobs in installation, maintenance and repair occupations, the American infrastructure would collapse without workers to fill these occupations

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Matt Zajechowski is a senior content strategist and outreach manager at Digital Third Coast.  Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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