Dream Jobs: Who Has Them, And Why

LinkedIn looks at dream jobs

For children, it's up there with picking out a dollhouse and stuffed animals -- answering the question, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Over the course of your life, the answer to 'What is your dream job?' is something that changes as you confront reality, and practicality.

But according to a new study released Thursday by LinkedIn, roughly 1 in 3 adult professionals (30 percent) say that they have their childhood dream jobs or work in related careers. (No specific age range was mentioned by LinkedIn in the survey.) The online professional network surveyed 8,000 adult professionals from across the world for the study. (LinkedIn counts a total of 187 million members, which it says makes it the world's largest professional network.)

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"Childhood dream jobs are pure; it's about what we have a natural inclination for," Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's career expert, said in an interview. "The dream jobs we aspire to as children are a window into our passions and talents."

So what were the top dream jobs for today's professionals back when they were kids?

For American men:

1. Professional or Olympic athlete (8.2 percent of survey respondents).
3. Airplane or helicopter pilot (6.8 percent).
3. Scientist (6.8 percent).
4. Lawyer (5.9 percent).
5. Astronaut (5 percent).

For American women:

1. Teacher (11.4 percent).
2 Veterinarian (9 percent).
3. Writer, journalist or novelist (8.1 percent).
4. Doctor, nurse or emergency medical technician (7.1 percent).
5. Singer (7.1 percent).

%VIRTUAL-hiringNow-topCity%So how do people define their dream jobs? The vast majority -- 70 percent -- of those surveyed defined the "childhood dream job" as "taking pleasure in your work." Just 6 percent said it meant making a lot of money.

According to Williams, the childhood dream job is an issue many professionals never really let go of, and in fact, try and return to their passion as they advance in their careers. "I've met a lot of people at their 40th birthday and who say, 'I am not doing what I want to do.' "

So what do you do if you want to transition into your dream job? Williams had three tips:

1. Track down someone doing your dream job. Even well into professional life, it's possible to have a "warped perception" of what a childhood dream job is, Williams says. So it's important to find out what living a certain job is really like, to see if you really want to move forward. She said that she recalled one woman who gave up everything to become a baker, but wasn't thrilled when she had to start waking up at 4 a.m.

2. Immerse yourself in the community. Another way to find out if your childhood dream job is really everything you actually dreamed it would be is to gain some direct exposure in the field. Every field has career groups that are joining. They can also help provide a path toward joining a field. "Dip your toe in," Williams says.

3. Figure out the connection to your current job. "Oftentimes, we are attracted to what we are innately capable of, so don't presume the job you currently have isn't connected" to your dream job, Williams says. When people go for their "childhood dream job," they often think they have to make a "clean break," but oftentimes the impulse to "wipe away that old experience" is really not necessary, Williams says. "You don't want to start from scratch."

What was your childhood dream job?

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