That’s actually not true, I wanted to be a librarian. But according to over a quarter of you (26%), exploration and discovery was the job of your dreams.

We ran a survey to discover what the UK population wanted to do when they grew up, how many of us stuck with our dream and why the rest of us didn’t.

You can check out out the key highlights and infographic here, or continue reading for the full results;

Top five jobs that all children dreamed of when they were little

  • 26% wanted to a job in exploration and discovery
  • 18% wanted to save lives
  • 16% want to be a professional sportsman/woman
  • 12% wanted to be in education
  • 11% wanted to be on the stage/screen

For little girls the top dream jobs included:

TOP JOB: Being in education – 24% wanted to be a teacher when they were little

  • 41% admit they wanted to be a primary school teacher
  • 19% wanted to be a secondary school teacher
  • 11% wanted to be a university professor

SECOND CHOICE: Saving lives – 23% of little girls wanted to save lives

  • 34% wanted to be a vet
  • 27% wanted to be a nurse
  • 21% wanted to be a doctor

THIRD CHOICE: Exploration and discovery – 20% of little girls wanted to go into this field

  • 28% wanted to be a scientist
  • 17% wanted to be an astronaut
  • 17% wanted to be a famous explorer

For little boys the top dream jobs included:

TOP JOB: Exploration and discovery – 30% wanted a career in exploration and discovery when they were little

  • 39% of little boys said they wanted to be a scientist when they grow up
  • 22% want to be an astronaut
  • 14% want to be a famous explorer

SECOND JOB: Sportsman – 24% wanted to be a sportsman

  • Rather unsurprisingly a huge majority (68%) of little boys were dreaming of being a footballer
  • 9% wanted to be an F1 driver
  • 8% said they wanted to be an athlete with hopes of becoming an Olympian

THIRD CHOICE: Saving lives – 14% wanted save lives

  • 25% of little boys wanted to be Fireman Sam as they admit they wanted to be a firefighter
  • 21% wanted to be in the armed forces
  • 19% of little boys wanted to be a doctor

Top jobs in exploration and discovery

  • 35% of people dreamt of being to be a scientist
  • 21% wanted to be an astronaut
  • 15% wanted to be a famous explorer

Insight: When it comes to exploration and discovery, there is no gender divide with both little boys and girls sharing the same dreams of becoming scientist, astronauts and famous explorer as their top 3 chosen professions within this field.

Top jobs saving lives

  • 24% wanted to be a vet
  • 20% wanted to be a doctor
  • 17% wanted to be a nurse
  • 13% wanted to be a firefighter
  • 12% wanted to be in the armed forces

Insight: When it comes to saving lives, little girls dream of making it all better (perhaps showing their maternal side) by choosing to be a vet, nurse or doctor (interestingly the majority choosing to save lives of animals over humans). But for boys, the saving life jobs come with danger with 27% wanting a career as a fireman and 21% wanting to join the armed forces.

Top professional sportsman/woman jobs

  • 61% wanted to be a footballer
  • 13% wanted to be in the Olympics
  • 9% wanted to be an F1 driver

The sporty girls

  • 53% wanted to be an athlete with aspirations of attending the Olympics
  • Rather surprisingly, 12% wanted to be an F1 driver – showing a love of speed and cars isn’t just for the boys
  • 6% of little girls, wanted to bend it like Beckham and be footballers

Those sporty boys 

  • 68% of little boys were dreaming of being a footballer
  • Other ball games didn’t make many little boys dreams with only 5% thinking about a career as a rugby player, 3% wanting to be a professional golfer and only 1% wanting to be a tennis player

Top jobs in education

  • 35% wanted to be a primary school teacher
  • 19% preferred older children and wanted to be a secondary school teacher
  • 14% wanted to go into further education and become university professors

Girls in education

  • 41% of little girls wanted to be a primary school teacher
  • 19% wanted to teach older children in secondary schools
  • Only 11% wanted to be a university lecturer, compared to 29% of boys who would have liked to have been one

Boys in education

  • Becoming a teacher wasn’t high on the agenda for little boys, with only 4% saying that considered it a childhood dream, compared to 24% of little girls (it was the top job voted by them)
  • More than a quarter (29%) did say they would have liked to have been a university professor had they have chosen education as the sector for them

Top jobs on stage/screen

  • 30% wanted to be an actor in films and on TV
  • 16% longed to be a popstar
  • 15% wanted to be a musician

Other jobs included Puppeteer and those who preferred to be behind the camera: cameraman, sound and lighting, director and playwright

Girls in the limelight

  • 29% of little girls grew up wanting to be an actress on screen
  • 16% dreamed of a stage career (almost double than those who wanted to be on TV)
  • 19% wanted to be a dancer

Boys in the limelight

  • Being an actor (31%) was voted first choice for a dream career
  • 25% dreamed of being a musician
  • Being a popstar was lower down with only 8% counting that as credible and as cool as being a ‘real’ musician

Top jobs in public transport

  • 53% wanted to be a train driver
  • 20% wanted to be a pilot
  • 18% wanted to be a bus driver

Girls in the driving seat

  • Joint first: 33% of girls wanted to be a train driver and 33% wanted to be a pilot – showing that gender stereotypes don’t necessarily stand
  • Interestingly, 17% wanted to be taxi drivers, which 0% boys wanted to be

Boys in the driving seat

  • 54% (more than half) of little boys dreamt of being a train driver, the first choice by far when it comes to a career in public transport
  • 18% wanted to be a bus driver
  • Only 4% wanted to be a tube driver
  • 19% wanted to be a pilot – considerably less than the girls

Top legal jobs

  • 52% wanted to be a lawyer
  • 23% wanted to be a police officer
  • 8% wanted to be in CSI team

Girls in legal

  • The girls are more likely than the boys to see themselves as super sleuths, with 9% dreaming of being a detective and 11% wanting to be a crime scene investigator – more than double, when compared to the boys.

Boys in legal

  • The boys want to be law enforcers with 53% of boys wanting to be lawyers and 31% police officers
  • They were less interested in being those to track down the baddies, with only 3% want a career in crime scene investigation

Ruling the country

  • Only 2% of children wanted to be the Prime Minister when they were older

Living the dream

91% admit that they aren’t working in their childhood dream job. Of the 9% who are, 73% are happy to say that it is living up to their expectations. Over a quarter (27%) say that disappointingly, it is not.

Girls chasing the dream

  • 10% (1 in 10) say they are working in their childhood dream job
  • Almost two thirds (65%) aren’t disappointed, saying it has lived up to their expectations

Boys chasing the dream 

  • 91% of men admit that they aren’t doing the job they dreamed they would when they were little
  • Of the 9% who are, 80% say it is living up to their expectations

Top 3 reasons why people didn’t end up doing their dream job

  • 32% admit that they became more interested in another profession as the years have gone by
  • 18% found it was too difficult to pursue
  • 12% state they believe there is no such thing as a dream job… possibly suffering from the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome

Childhood dream jobs infographic