Teens Rank Dentistry Low Among Career Choices

Feb. 4, 2004
According to a Junior Acheivement poll, "Businessperson" is the ideal profession.

When it comes to the ideal job, America's teens mean business � or businessperson, to be exact � according to a new poll from Junior Achievement. In all, 12.8 percent of teens selected "businessperson" as their ideal job, nearly twice the number who selected "doctor" (6.5%), "teacher" (5.4%), and "computer field" (4.9%). "Dentist" came in 30th with 0.8 percent, behind "Mechanic" and "Construction," but ahead of "Photographer" and "Artist." The results are from the JA Interprise Poll?, a survey of 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 18. For a complete list of ideal jobs, go to www.ja.org.

The poll also points to a growing gender gap between girls and boys when it comes to careers requiring higher education. Specifically, twice as many girls (8.3%) as boys (3.9%) selected "doctor" as their ideal job. This pattern was also present with "teachers" (7.9% to 1.6%) and "lawyers" (7.0% to 2.0%). However, more than three times as many boys (6.8%) as girls (1.7%) named "computers" as their ideal job. For boys, "pro-athlete" (7.2%) came in second only to "businessperson" as the ideal job, while girls (0.9%) were less interested in professional athletics. In all, 73.9 percent of girls believe they need a four-year degree or graduate degree to obtain their dream job, while 61.5 percent of boys believe they do.

Expectations for teens' annual salary by age 40 are at the lowest levels in five years of polling, with 8.1 percent of students believing they will earn one million dollars by the age of 40. This is down from a high of 14.1 percent in 2002. As for expectations of achieving their ideal job, Black students were the most optimistic (42.7%), followed by Hispanic students (33.3%), White students (31.2%), and Asian/Pacific Islander students (28.8%). 

The 2004 JA Interprise Poll? on Kids and Careers was administered to students ages 13 to 18 in classrooms nationwide from October to November 2003. Data collection was conducted online. The poll is part of an ongoing series of polls on student views of economic issues. To read full details of this poll, visit the Research Center on www.ja.org under Student Center. For more information, contact Edwin Bodensiek at (719) 540-6297 or [email protected].