The David Attenborough effect: Most of us dreamed of becoming explorers and scientists

But only 1 in 10 UK adults achieved their childhood dream job

Over a quarter (26%) of men and women in the UK dreamed of a job involving exploration or scientific discovery when they were children – most of whom (35%) experimented with plans to become a scientist, according to new survey by money-saving website

The Voucherbox survey reveals the top childhood dream jobs that working Brits aspired to be as children, including 18% who wanted to save lives, 16% who dreamed of becoming a professional sportsperson, with 13% longing to be educators and 11% aspiring to be a star of stage and screen.

Findings also reveal how many of us stuck to our chosen career path; one in ten (9%) managed to achieve the dream career, however one in four (25%) of those have been left disappointed by unmet expectations.

Science over space exploration

The chemistry sets that belonged to children up and down the country obviously had a big impact as the desire to become a scientist was the most popular dream job by some majority – 14% more popular than dreams of becoming an astronaut.

Whilst 10% more boys wanted to explore and discover than girls, of those who chose the field there was no gender divide. Interestingly both little girls and boys shared the same dreams of becoming a scientist, astronaut and famous explorer as their top three chosen professions.

Life-saving squad goals

When it comes to saving lives, little girls dreamt of the softer, mending side of life saving by choosing to be a vet (34%), nurse (27%) or doctor (21%). But for boys, the choice of life saving jobs were associated with danger with exactly a quarter wanting a career as a fireman and 21% wanting to join the armed forces, showing a masculine side at an early age.

Back of the net!

It comes as no surprise that a huge majority (67%) of little boys who wanted to be a sportsman grew up dreaming of becoming a footballer. However other ball games didn’t make the cut to many little boys dreams with 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. Sporty girls revealed their need for speed with 12% aspiring to be an F1 driver, a dream only 9% of boys had.

The student becomes the master

Becoming a teacher wasn’t high on the agenda for little boys, with only 4% considering a career in education a childhood dream, compared to 24% of little girls (it was the top job voted by them). However, 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 – a path only 11% of girls wanted to take, 41% choosing primary school teaching instead.

Lights, camera, action

It’s perhaps quite surprising that being on the stage or screen didn’t appear so high on the list. Of the 16% of girls who dreamed of a limelight career, 29% wanted to be an actress on screen, almost double the amount that dreamed of a stage career (16%), whilst only 22% wanted to be popstars. For boys the desire to perform was even lower down the list, only appearing in 8% of dreams, though when it did it is was to be a cool musician (25%), as opposed to a popstar (8%).

Dreams can come true

Almost 1 in 10 (9%) are living the dream working in the job they dreamed of as a child, and it seems it was worth pursuing as almost three quarters (73%) say it has lived up to expectations. That means however over a quarter (27%) disappointingly say it hasn’t.

For the 91% who didn’t manage to land that dream job, the reasons were varied. Almost a third (32%) merely became more interested in another position, 18% found the dream too difficult to pursue and sadly 12% don’t believe a dream job even exists.

Shane Forster, Voucherbox UK Country Manager stated, “It’s interesting to see the variety of roles that people dreamed of as a child – my particular favourite was a puppeteer. Of course as time goes on we discover a whole world of careers, so it makes sense that the majority of people become interested in other possibilities.

As children, most of us are unconcerned with money so this doesn’t come into our dream job selection. With this in mind it’s interesting to note over half of the average dream job salaries are within the same salary band as the actual average salary of the majority of respondents. This of course is not including the salary of a first-team footballer or indeed F1 driver, who unfortunately didn’t answer our survey.”

Read the full survey results.

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Childhood dream jobs infographic2 The David Attenborough effect: Most of us dreamed of becoming explorers and scientists