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The Jobs We Most Want Our Children to Have

All parents want what’s best for their children. But how do our opinions of ‘what’s best’ differ when it comes to their future careers? 


In this article we discover what parents in the UK want their kids to be when they grow up. To find out, we conducted a survey, where we asked 2,000 parents the question:


‘If your child were to go into the following as a career, how happy would you be?’


Each parent was then asked to rate each job role from 1 to 10, with 1 being very unhappy and 10 being very happy. The responses were as follows: 


Own their own business (of any kind)8.69
University Lecturer 8.33
Paramedic 8.32
Professional Sportsperson8.20
TV Presenter 7.66
Police Officer7.40
Recruitment Consultant 7.36
Estate Agent 7.31
Other (Please specify)7.02
Armed forces 6.63
Security Guard6.33
Reality TV Star 5.51
Love Island Star4.48


  • Doctor (8.77), Business Owner (8.69), Lawyer (8.47) and Engineer (8.42) came out on top, with parents saying that they’d be happier with their children having those jobs as opposed to others. 


  • Some of the least favoured careers included Reality TV star (5.51) and Love Island star (4.48). 


  • Medical related roles were also highly regarded by parents, with Paramedic and Nurse both receiving an average rating of 8.24 out of 10. 


  • Careers in the Military were rated significantly lower, with RAF being rated an average of 7.02 and Armed Forces roles being rated at just 6.63, just 1 point higher than Reality TV star.  


List of Most Desirable Jobs According to Parents in the UK - 2019 Edition

How do Mum and Dad’s Views Differ? 


Having a difference of opinion with your partner is all part and parcel of being a couple. But when it comes to our children’s futures, do these opinions really differ that much? 

Short answer – Yes. 


  • 16.5% of Dads say they would be very happy if their child became a Reality TV Star, whereas only 12.8% of Mums agreed.  


  • Mums on the other hand, favoured job roles in the medical industry significantly more. Almost half (42.5%) of Mums said they would be very happy (scoring 10/10) if their son or daughter became a midwife, however just over a quarter (25.2%) of men shared the same views.  


Which jobs do parents want for their children in different parts of the UK? 


  • The highest rated profession in our study was a Doctor, with almost two thirds (64.2%) of parents in Wales saying that they would be very happy for their child to pursue a career in this role.  


  • Some occupations’ ratings varied considerably across the country. For instance, in Yorkshire 31.8% of parents say they would be very pleased if their child became a Police Officer, however in London just 18.6% of parents said the same. 


  • Twice as many parents in Northern Ireland (50%) would be very happy for their son or daughter to become an Author then parents in London (25.7%). 


  • Parents from London are twice as likely to be pleased about their child becoming a Love Island Star than parents from other regions such as Northern Ireland and the South East of England. 

Do our opinions influence our children’s career choices? 


Parents’ attitudes have been found to have some impact their childrens’ future career choices, as evidenced by research from Walter E. Bratcher who is a doctoral candidate in Counselling, Guidance and Personal Services at the University of South Dakota, US. 


Bratcher’s research confirms that family traditions and parental expectations can influence their children’s career interests and perceived occupation choices. 


Birth order has also been shown to have some impact on which parent a child looks up to the most. A study conducted by Dr. Bromley Kniveton from Loughborough University found that the eldest child often takes the most advice from their father, whereas the youngest takes more advice from their mother. The same study also found that the greatest influence on a child’s career comes from their parents.  


Although parent’s views can hold some sway over their child’s career choices, it’s important to be aware of the negative effects these attitudes may have on them. According to Middleton and Loughead’s findings from their study of parental influence on career development; “The pressure for career success or the support for only a narrow range of occupations could inhibit the adolescent‘s ability to explore alternative careers that would be of greater fit to the individual”. 

Supporting Imagery

Table - How happy parents would be with children's career choices 2019

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