The careers that teenagers dream about can tell us a lot about their values, especially as they're shaped by media and pop culture. So what do the teens of today want to do when they grow up? Recently, Teen Ink magazine polled high school students about their dream jobs, and these were some of their top choices. Interestingly, the jobs range from altruistic to glamorous, reflecting aspirations driven by both social conscience and media fascination. And as we can see, some are more realistically attainable than others.
Journalist. The idea of globe-trotting wherever news happens, investigating stories, and writing for newspapers and magazines does sound exciting. To enter the world of journalism, a college degree in journalism, communications, or English is important, especially if you want to go beyond the small town paper into national and international publications. You should also be an excellent writer with good ethics and a respect for facts and fairness.
Fashion designer. For the person who not only loves clothes but is also interested in the apparel manufacturing industry, fashion design can be an ideal field to pursue. Even if one is not interested in starting a label, there are several career tracks within fashion design, including buying, merchandising, and marketing. Those seriously interested in breaking into the business are advised to earn a degree from an accredited fashion college, as well as have an industry internship or relevant work experience under their belts.
Photographer. As a shutterbug, you might be photographing celebrities and seeing your work on the cover of magazines. But that's a big "might." 99% of photography jobs are much more mundane. Anyone with a camera can call himself a photographer, so you must learn to differentiate yourself, specializing in a targeted field like consumer products, advertising, or fashion design, and then work relentlessly to promote yourself to potential clients.
Interior designer. Designing the spaces in which people live and work can be both artistically and professionally rewarding. But interior design is about more than just choosing colors, fabrics and furniture. A designer also has to be knowledgeable about construction codes, engineering, and safety. That's why many states require interior designers to be certified, only granting licenses after candidates have earned an Interior Design degree from an accredited college.
Environmentalist. Today's high school students are committed to the protection of our natural resources, so many want to work in the green industry. Environmental work can encompass law, engineering, education, architecture, or business administration, so it's best to pursue a degree in those fields, especially at a college that offers an environmental focus to its majors. Internships with a variety of green companies is also recommended, so you can experience firsthand the advancements and policies in environmentalism, and gain valuable contacts for future job searches.
Actor. Visions of acting fame dance around not only in teenagers' heads, but many adults. This is one profession that does not guarantee success, however, or even survival. The average annual income of actors in the Screen Actors Guild is $5,000 a year, so most actors must take on other jobs as well to make ends meet.
Lawyer. Trial deliberations in the media look exciting, but most legal work involves extensive research, writing, and paperwork. A recent survey by the American Bar Association revealed that only 4 in 10 lawyers would recommend a legal career to others. If you do want to pursue law, know that it's a hard academic road before you ever get to call yourself an attorney. You need a minimum of four years of college and three years of law school before you can even take the bar exam that decides if you're allowed to practice.
Celebrity Stylist. The job of celebrity stylist has gained exposure and popularity over the last few years thanks to women's magazines, television shows and red carpet events. While competition to become a celebrity stylist is understandably fierce, many high school students do not realize that there are many more opportunities as a fashion stylist for movie, television, and advertising shoots. Fashion training is invaluable, preferably from an accredited fashion school, as well as an internship that offers the chance to shadow a stylist.
Teacher. Decade after decade, high school students aspire to be teachers, as the desire to help children and educate the next generation is a strong motivating force. Teaching usually requires a four-year degree and a teaching credential, though with the teaching shortage across many parts of the country, many states allow candidates to earn their credentials on the job.
Crime scene investigator. The CSI franchise of television shows has ushered in a generation of teens eager to be forensic scientists. But a CSI job is one of the most difficult to land. Most crime scene investigators have four-year degrees in chemistry or biology, and on top of that, they are also police officers. So one has to be both a scientist and a cop - that's a hard combination to find.
The dream jobs of high school students run the gamut, with some careers more realistic than others. But with education, persistence, and perhaps a little luck, anything is possible.