Dream On: Less Than Half of Teens Expect to Land Dream Job Credit: Lisa F. Young | Dreamstime.com

Finding their dream job may have become a nightmare for a majority of teenagers.  According to a new poll, 43 percent of teens are very confident that they will one day hold their dream job, down from 65 percent when the poll was last conducted in 2010. Additionally, 71 percent said they would take a job that paid more money over their dream job. 

"One of the things that was most surprising to us was that such a large percentage of teens would give up their dream job for one that paid more money," Stephanie Bell, spokeswoman at Junior Achievement, told BusinessNewsDaily. "We are not sure if that is a result of the economic downturn where young people are seeing their families having to get by with less money or a parent getting laid off.  Perhaps that has translated into them trying to be pragmatic in their concern about trying to make a living and provide for their families in the future."

Despite the challenges presented by jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), 31 percent of respondents said they would pursue careers in those fields.  An additional 30 percent of teens plan to pursue medical or dental careers. The survey also found that 13 percent of teens planned on bypassing this search by starting their own business. Other popular career choices for teens include:

  • A job in the arts (23 percent)
  • A public service job (18 percent)
  • A job in the business industry (14 percent)
  • A job in sports (11 percent)
  • A job in a different field (16 percent)

Sixty-six percent of teens said they had no problem choosing a career in a field that would require more four or more years of college. Just under three-quarters of teens, 72 percent, said some form of college was required for their dream job. Although a majority of teens plan on going to college, 32 percent are also considering skipping college to join the workforce immediately after high school. 

"This speaks to the fact that teens are looking for jobs in high growth industries and ones that provide a great deal of financial security," said Bell. "They may be looking forward to the end result of, 'if I am a doctor, I am pretty confident I will make a good living, regardless of what my student loan debt may be.' It seems they are really being pragmatic about job security in the future."

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Of the 787 teenagers polled by Knowledge Networks for the Junior Achievement Teens and Careers Survey, 35 percent said they did not know a single person who worked in their dream field.

"That really shows the importance of providing young people with exposure to career exploration and work readiness programs in their school, so they can understand what it takes to  get those jobs and keep them," said Bell.

While these findings may reflect the current feelings about the economy, according to Bell, the results also point to a bright future. 

"The majority of new jobs that will be created in those STEM fields," said Bell. "Kids may be seeing that in the news and thinking, 'I want to be where the jobs are.' I think it is a good thing for our country and our economic competitiveness in the global economy, if we can prepare more people for those kinds of jobs."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.