Most popular childhood dream jobs revealed

All children should be free to dream – so we discovered the most popular dream jobs in the UK  

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We want all children to grow up free from abuse – and free to dream about becoming anything they want. So we asked adults and young people across the UK about their childhood ambitions. 

Your childhood dreams

Our YouGov survey found that the most popular childhood dream job – for 1 in 10 adults in the UK – was to be a doctor or nurse, followed by footballer (9%), and teacher (7%).

1 in 7 adults managed to achieve the job they dreamed about when they were children, including 1 who said they became an astronaut.

Nearly a third of adults who wanted to be a medic achieved their childhood ambition. Others who got their dream job included teachers (27%), writers or journalists (9%), police officers (6%), and actors (5%). 


What today's children dream of

Boy eating a cake

The future appears to be bright for many of today’s young people with two thirds of under-18s surveyed by ChildLine saying they are confident about getting their dream job. Most children said achieving their goal would be down to their own hard work and good grades, but support from family and friends came a close second.

Some dream jobs – doctor, lawyer, and teacher – have stayed consistently popular through the generations. However, being a writer or journalist was significantly more popular among 18 to 24 year olds today compared to older generations. And people aged 45 to 54 were most likely to have dreamed of becoming an astronaut.


The top ten childhood dream jobs

  • Doctor, nurse or other health professional
  • Footballer
  • Teacher
  • Writer/journalist
  • Police officer
  • Train driver
  • Actor
  • Zoo keeper
  • Pop star
  • Astronaut

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive said:
"Every child is born with hopes for the future but if a child's head is full of fear, anxiety or loneliness there's no space for dreams." 

"Childhood should be a time when we're free to dream. Abuse can destroy that – but it never should."
Peter Wanless / NSPCC Chief Executive

"When I was a child I wanted to play cricket for England and Somerset, but like many people my dream changed as I got older. My ambition now is that through a combination of education and prevention work all children can one day grow up free from abuse. And until that day comes I want every child who has suffered to get the help they need to rebuild their childhood."

Childhood dream jobs across the UK

Coins

Childhood ambitions varied across the UK:

  • Wales: lawyers and ballet dancers
  • North East & Midlands: footballers
  • East Anglia: zoo keepers

And the unusual jobs

There were some unusual childhood dream jobs, including 11 archaeologists, 10 farmers, 7 artists, 6 chefs, and 4 jockeys. And despite being barely out of the starting blocks of life, 2 people said they had dreamed of becoming funeral directors when they were children.

Among the one-off dream jobs were antique dealer, bus conductor, chip shop owner, dog trainer, hovercraft captain, gamekeeper, magician, opera singer, spy, and shepherdess.

People aged 45 to 54 were most likely to have dreamed of becoming an astronaut.

What's your dream job?

Take our quiz and see if you've still got what it takes to compete with our Ambassador for Childhood, Wayne Rooney - or join Alfie the star of our latest ad amongst the stars.
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Children's stories

Real life stories of children who've experienced abuse and other difficulties – and how we've helped them dream again. 

Read more

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Every year, with your support, we help keep one million children safe from abuse and neglect – so they can look forward to a life of hope, and endless possibilities.

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Does your dream job involve helping children? Being a ChildLine counsellor means being there to support young people when they most need someone. 

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