“Fixers” and Firemen: Kids Describe Their Dream Jobs

By Bridget Quigg

Ah, childhood dreams. Ride a unicorn. Fly on a magic carpet. Perform an aortic valve replacement through a median sternotomy incision.

Okay, the last one probably wasn't on your list when you were little, but growing up to be a doctor may have been. From pilots to zookeepers, chefs to police officers, kids tend to have high hopes for their futures and funny ways of describing them.

Below is a list of what eight children at an after-school program in Seattle, Wash. answered when asked what they want to be when they grow up. We've also included their guess at what they will earn and real salary data about the jobs. Check on your own salary with the PayScale salary survey.

Do you remember what you wanted to be?

1. Detective – Cyrus, age 6

Sleuths have played the hero in children's literature for years. Remember Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys? It seems that 6-year-old Cyrus has caught the bug and is interested in "solving mysteries." When asked why he wants to puzzle out others' problems, Cyrus simply says, "It's cool." Cyrus figures he'll make $40 per week for his hard work. Little does he know that the median annual salary for a real live detective is $56,200, earning him closer to $1,000 per week.

2. Ballerina – Delany, age 6

Fluffy tutus and getting carried across the stage by a man in tights still holds appeal for many young girls. Delany is specifically looking forward to "lots of twirling and stuff." She even demonstrated her current twirl technique when answering the question. Delany isn't sure what she would make as a professional dancer but doesn't seem to mind. It's more about the costumes and glory. Today, a professional dancer earns a median salary of $28,700 a year.

3. Fixer – Amado, age 5

Amado likes the challenge of fixing a broken… anything. When asked what he wants to fix he includes, "houses, buildings, cars and buses." He thinks that the toughest fixing gig would be, "that something like a bridge falls in the water and you have to use a crane in the water." Fortunately, Amado is happy to work hard because he plans to earn $20,000 a week for his labor. What will he buy with that cash? A red car. If he really does stay with the construction industry, Amado can count on earning less than $20,000 a week. A construction foreman makes a median annual salary of $48,000 per year.

4. Teacher – Isabella, age 5

Isabella is excited about teaching because "you can do lots of activities." Isabella is a craft time and recess enthusiast. When asked what the hardest thing about educating the next generation will be, Isabella says, "There would be a lot of kids. That would be the hardest part." Her friend Ava chimed in that teachers have to get up early, too – also true, but Isabella says that's okay. Isabella wants to teach 8-year-olds, so her salary as an elementary school teacher today would be about $46,000 per year.

5. Ecologist – Zoe, age 9 "almost 10, though"

Zoe likes trees, leaves, rocks – everything in nature – but she especially loves our leafy friends. "I like trees a lot," says Zoe, "It's really cool to cross-breed a couple. New trees might lead to new possibilities." Zoe thinks leaves are extra interesting because of photosynthesis. What does she think she would earn for creating new trees and protecting old ones? Zoe says, "It depends on what you discover. That's what I think is cool about science." Well, Zoe, we have a feeling you will discover plenty, but if you were an ecologist these days you would make about $52,500 a year.

6. Singer – Eva, age 8

Eva likes to sing and dance. When asked who her inspiration is, she carefully replies, "I know this may sound strange but Britney Spears." It seems Eva has been keeping up with the news the last few years. But, she defends Britney by saying that her songs always tell a story and "she shows a lot of emotion and connects with her audience." Eva also plans to do some acting and modeling on the side. It sounds like she may be raking in the big bucks, though your average non-Britney professional singer earns a less fabulous $25 per hour plus tips, around $42,100 per year.

7. Doctor – Phillip, age 6

Phillip is a high-minded young man with a big heart. He wants to be a doctor because they "take care of people and give them food until they're better." Phillip imagines that the toughest part about being a doctor will be "cutting blood." Geesh, sounds impossible. Phillip knows that being a doctor is hard work but is happy that he will be earning $100 per year because "that's a lot." Actually, Phillip is in for a pleasant surprise. A general practitioner earns approximately $134,500 a year.

8. Lawyer – Yudy, age 8

Yudy is looking for money and the power to make a positive difference in the world. When asked what she thinks is fun about being a lawyer she says that "you can earn a lot of money and help people and buy things." She wants to help poor people and give them homes, apartments and clothing. She also says that a lawyer's job is to tell the truth. Yudy imagines that she'll make $500 a week. In fact, she'll likely earn more since the average annual salary for a lawyer in a practice with two equity partners is $80,400.

More from PayScale

Does Casual Dress Hurt Your Income?

Big Money in Minutes: NFL Salaries vs. Average Fan Salaries

"Be Nerdier" and Other Tips for Working in Gaming