1 in 4 UK Adults Work in Their Dream Job

A quarter of working adults are in careers they dreamt of while at school. Teaching is the most popular childhood career aspiration (11% of respondents) and the most likely to be achieved.

New data from Legal & General shows that one in four people (25%) have landed the job they dreamed of as a child.

The survey of 2,000 adults across the UK, which looked at how many people were following the career path they envisaged as a child, found that becoming a teacher was the most popular childhood dream job (11% of respondents), followed by aspirations to be a vet (8%), doctor (7%), or sportsperson (6%). Other popular aspirations included being a police officer / detective, musician, or business owner (all 5%).

In addition to the survey findings, Legal & General has also unveiled two videos featuring adults and children discussing their childhood dream jobs. The videos include interviewees Leni [11] and Isaac [10] who both wish to be sports stars, with Isaac still trying to decide which sort:

‘…like a baseball player, footballer, anyone. I don’t really mind’ 

Teachers were the most likely to have achieved their childhood dream job (23%), followed by business owners (7%) and (6%) doctors. 5% of police officers / detectives shared that they had fulfilled their dream, whilst becoming a vet was the dream job most likely to never happen with 10% of aspiring vets never making it into the profession.

The research found that women were more realistic about their childhood career ambitions than men with 16% aspiring to be teachers compared to just 4% of men. Meanwhile, men were far more likely than women to aspire to become professional sportspeople, with 14% selecting this option compared to just 1% of women. Just 2% of those who aspired to be professional sportspeople landed their dream job.

The study found that some respondents’ childhood dreams were driven to pursue a passion, with 30% choosing a job relevant to their hobbies, while 24% were interested in school subjects relevant to their job or industry. A further 16% said they were inspired by their teachers to follow their childhood ambitions.

Meanwhile, 30% of respondents revealed they were inspired by a job or industry featured on TV or in film. 16% chose their job to ‘make them look cool’.

Krishaal Alberto [14] shared his future aspirations:

‘I want to be a pilot when I grow up. To make my dream job come true, I think I need to put in a lot of effort, and a lot of hard work. I discovered my love for aviation when I visited an aircraft museum, I just thought that everything was really cool.’

The findings also revealed regional differences, with the most popular childhood dream in the North East being to become a police officer / detective (13%).

Greater London has the highest percentage of people working their childhood dream as a profession (31%), followed closely by the East and West Midlands (29%). Those in the East of England (17%) were least likely to be following their childhood aspirations.

Of those who did not follow their dream path, more than a fifth cited a lack of self-belief or confidence. However, 22% of respondents who have not landed their dream job said they were working in their dream industry.

31% of men chose their current job as it offered a good salary, compared to 21% of women. People in the East of England were most likely to select ‘location’ as their reason for choosing their current job (20%), while those in Northern Ireland were the least likely (10%). The research also found that 30% of people were ‘very happy’ in their current role, while 41% were ‘somewhat happy’.

Board game consultant, Ben [34], states: ‘I think if I was able to speak to my younger self, he wouldn’t understand the job I have now. It just wasn’t on my radar as a kid that you could make and play games for a living. I feel like I would tell them not to worry, I still play football, I still make music, just it’s not what brings in the money.’

66% of respondents have made or considered making a career change, rising to 74% among 18–24-year-olds. But the ‘dreamers’ were much more likely to stay put. Meanwhile, almost half (46%) of those who were working in their dream childhood job have not made or considered making a career change. Of those respondents who had previously made or had ever considered making a career change, 15% said this was to pursue their childhood dream.

Regionally, there were various reasons people gave for considering or acting upon a career change. 50% of people in Wales wanted a better work/life balance, 44% of the South East cited finances and 22% of people in Yorkshire and Humber cited changing priorities over the pandemic.

Paula Llewellyn, Chief Marketing Officer and Direct MD, Legal & General Retail

It’s great to see that one in four adults are currently working in a career they dreamt of as a child. For others, salary considerations and practical limitations, such as location, means not everyone can follow their dream career path. Our survey found that 66% of respondents have made or considered a career change. Legal & General is here to support individuals, and their loved ones, through important milestones, including any shifts and changes to income and employment.” 

To see the full research and videos please visit the Legal & General website: https://www.legalandgeneral.com/insurance/life-insurance/childhood-dreams

Tatiana Rehmova

A glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason, Tatiana works in Media Relations and is the Content Producer at Enhancv. She loves writing, spotting inspiring stories, and building meaningful relationships.