Work it! 10 dreamy jobs for parents to share with kids
A key part of financial education is teaching your kid about the world of work: how hard we have to study and train to get a job and what we do to earn a paycheck once we have one. Here are the facts and figures on ten dream jobs to share with kids from preschool through elementary, and get the career conversation underway. When you’re done, go here to print out a set of collectible career trading cards!
Be an airplane pilot
Commercial pilots fly planes that carry cargo and passengers all around the world. Pilots need to be able to remain calm under pressure. They have to lead the in-flight crew, communicate with air traffic controllers on the ground, and master a big and complicated aircraft.
How much money you’ll make: $85,000 per year, on average.
How to get the job: To become a pilot for a commercial airline, you need a bachelor’s degree in any subject, and aviation training. Many pilots learn to fly in the military.
What’s great about it: You get to travel the world for free. And your office? It’s 36,000 feet in the clouds!
What’s challenging: You have to be away from home half of each month. Sometimes even more.
Be a farmer
Farmers don’t just grow the food we eat (on one of more than two million U.S. farms). They also produce crops used for fuel, for medicine, and for the fibers used to make fabric.
How much money you’ll make: $64,000 a year, on average.
How to get the job: Many farmers learn on the job. If you’re born on a family farm, you may learn your skills from your parents. Lots of aspiring farmers also attend college to study agriculture or horticulture.
What’s great about it: It’s very satisfying to make something grow and get something useful from it.
What’s challenging: Plants and animals sometimes get diseases. It’s your job to diagnose them and make them better.
Be a firefighter
Nationwide, firefighters respond to a fire every 23 seconds. But you don’t only put out fires; you also help prevent them. And you provide emergency medical service, help people after a disaster, and more—including getting cats down from trees!
How much money you’ll make: $49,000 per year, on average.
How to get the job: You have to pass a test to see if you can climb stairs quickly, carrying heavy equipment. You also need training to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and will have to attend a fire academy—a special school for firefighters. If you want to do something special like battle forest fires, you may need to go to college to study forestry.
What’s great about it: Saving people, pets, and property from fire and other disasters.
What’s challenging: It’s dangerous work. Firefighters are injured twice as often as people with any other job, on average.
Be a police officer
You enforce laws to maintain order and protect people and property. You do this by patrolling neighborhoods to look for crime, directing traffic, writing tickets, investigating accidents, and arresting people suspected of committing crimes, among many other duties.
How much money you’ll make: $61,000 a year, on average.
How to get the job: To work for many police departments, you need a college degree. Then, you have to pass an exam and train for up to six months at a police academy.
What’s great about it: The camaraderie. Lots of police officers talk about their coworkers as family. Plus, you’re helping people.
What’s challenging: Police frequently see bad things happen to people. That can be very difficult.
Be a chef
You create recipes and prepare food for people to enjoy. You’re the boss of a commercial kitchen.
How much money you’ll make: $46,000 a year, on average.
How to get the job: To work at a fancy restaurant, you might need to go to a culinary institute. Many chefs learn what they need to know by starting at an entry-level position—like prep cook or line cook—and working their way up to chef.
What’s great about it: Learning how to prepare tasty dishes from around the world.
What’s challenging: Feeding so many people every night is physically demanding and fast-paced work.
Be a teacher
You help children and adults learn, from preschool through graduate school.
How much money you’ll make: $58,000 a year, on average (elementary school teacher).
How to get the job: You need a bachelor’s degree, plus lots of courses in whatever subject you want to teach and special classes to teach you how to teach. You have to work as a student teacher for up to a year, supervised by an experienced teacher, before you get your own classroom. To get your license, you have to pass a special exam.
What’s great about it: Knowing you’re making a real difference in a student’s life.
What’s challenging: Finding ways to teach every individual student in a classroom.
Be a doctor
You diagnose, treat, and help people prevent themselves from getting hurt or getting sick. (Animals, too, if you’re a veterinarian!)
How much money you’ll make: Pediatricians, like the one who gives you your checkups, make an average of $183,000 a year. Veterinarians make an average of $99,000 a year.
How to get the job: You need to go to four years of medical school after college to get your medical degree. Then you spend years training as a resident, supervised by experienced doctors. If you want to specialize, you need longer residency training, sometimes up to 10 years.
What’s great about it: You get to help people and solve a lot of problems. One day you might investigate mysterious diseases, the next you’re making a sick person well again.
What’s challenging: Sometimes you have to tell patients sad news.
Be a movie star
You pretend to be someone else in front of a movie camera, and you’re adored by fans all over the world.
How much money you’ll make: Movie actors make an average of $40 an hour, but the highest paid film stars can make tens of millions of dollars a year.
How to get the job: You should participate in your school’s theatrical productions. Later, you may want to study at an acting school, or go to college and get a degree in theater.
What’s great about it: Playing make-believe with a group of talented people.
What’s challenging: Rejection. Before they become famous, actors must go on lots of auditions to get a role in a movie. Most times, you don’t get it—but you keep trying.
Be an astronaut
You explore the mysterious world beyond Earth’s atmosphere, and you’re the envy of kids everywhere.
How much money you’ll make: NASA pays between $52,000 and $114,000 a year.
How to get the job: You need a college degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics. For example, Dr. Peggy Whitson, who has spent a total of 377 days in space, holds a PhD in biochemistry. You also need to complete the two-year Astronaut Candidate Program, where you learn to survive in zero gravity, fly a space ship, and operate robots. (Beep-boop-beep.)
What’s great about it: You work in space!
What’s challenging: You work in space!
You help lead the United States by working with other countries, helping to create laws, and making sure everyone is safe and treated equally.
How much money you’ll make: $400,000 a year, plus $169,000 annual expense account.
How to get the job: Be elected by the American people. But first, study hard, work hard, and do good things in your community. Each of the past eleven presidents graduated from college, and four of them got special degrees after college.
What’s great about it: “You can do something that you know has a direct impact on somebody.”—President Barack Obama (Also, he liked the president’s supercool airplane, Air Force One.)
What’s challenging: You can’t go anywhere without Secret Service and reporters following you.