What Should I be When I grow up – Having the Career Talk with Your Kids

Kids wondering what should I be when I grow up

Ah, the age-old question, “What should I be when I grow up?”. How do you respond to it? When can you tell your kid that they can be whoever they want, and when should you go the more practical way and start a serious career discussion with them? 

There are no easy answers to these questions as they all depend on your child’s age and maturity level. But regardless, there will come a time when your child will approach you for career advice, and you need to be very careful with how you respond. 

What you say can shape their future, their expectations, and their overall job satisfaction later on. So, let’s see what you can do to approach the career discussion with your kid the right way.





Start The -What Should I Be When I Grow Up-Career Talk Early On

Kid wants to be a firefighter when he grows up

Children understand more about careers than they let on when they’re young. A vast majority of children see at least one of their parents heading to work every day, and even as toddlers, they understand that mommy or daddy have to go to work to get money.  

They know that getting money means having food on the table, favorite icecream in the park, and more toys to play with (that is, if you buy toys that don’t suck).

So it’s never too early to start talking about jobs and careers with your kid. 

At first, those conversations don’t have to be very serious, and you don’t have to go into detail.

Ask your 5-year old what they want to be when they grow up, ask them why. Join role-playing games where your kid’s the doctor, and you’re the patient, role-play firefighters, police officers, garbage collectors. 

Children love pretend play for a good reason.

These are simple ways to help your child understand what certain careers are about and what different people do for a living. This can even help them develop passions that will lead them to future careers.

Let Your Child Daydream

Ballerina, astronaut, professional athlete, candy-maker, and puppy sitter are all valid career choices for your little person. 

You shouldn’t limit your child’s imagination by telling them there isn’t such a thing as a space cowboy and that their dreams are unrealistic. Your child should associate careers with joy and happiness. They should have a positive outlook on their future jobs, however unrealistic they are. 

So, encourage your child to be creative and explore their career options early on. Don’t worry, your kid will know what they can and can’t be later on, so let them daydream.  

Research suggests that young children have very sophisticated and thorough ideas of what they want to be when they grow up. They’ll change their minds a million times, but how you respond to their dreams and aspirations is what will shape them and give them the courage to pursue their passions.

Explain the Basic Concepts of Work

Once your child is mature enough to understand, you should have a more serious career talk with them. Many parents wait to have the talk when kids reach high school and start taking electives. But you can still explain the basics of work when they’re younger. 

Young adolescents can grasp the importance of education for their future careers. They can understand the concept of salaries, internships, assignments and deadlines, and more. 

Perhaps the best way to explain the basics of jobs and careers is to take your child to work if your company allows it. 

Your kid can see that there are a variety of different tasks that need to be done. They’ll learn about the different positions a person can have within the company and the relationship between employees and managers. Children learn best with a hands-on approach, giving it a try and keeping it a positive experience.

Focus on Your Child’s Abilities and Preferences To Answer The -What Should I Be When I Grow Up- Question

Child with their preferences and abilities

When talking with your kid about what they should be when they grow up, it’s often best not to focus on specific jobs and career choices, but on your kid’s abilities, preferences, talents, and dreams. 

That way, instead of limiting their choices to “doctor,” “teacher,” “veterinarian,” you can help them expand their horizons by categorizing careers by your kid’s own unique set of skills and passions. 

If your child is really good with languages, get them to think about how they can apply their knowledge. A language teacher isn’t their only option; they can become writers, translators, diplomats in a foreign country even. 

By focusing on their abilities, you can help your child understand their strengths and weaknesses. This gives them a chance to improve in certain areas, work on the weaknesses that can impact their wellbeing, and hone their skills to perfection. 

Was that too complicated?

Let’s say your child is artistic, but a dreamer who lacks social skills. Identifying these strengths and weaknesses will help your child in more ways than one. 

Learning how to be more grounded can be crucial for their overall wellbeing. At the same time, developing social skills could expand their artistic reach if this is the career path they choose.

What Should I Be When I Grow Up Quiz

If determining your child’s strengths and weaknesses is more difficult than you originally imagined, you can make use of our personality quiz.

Personality quizzes can work wonders for helping you assess the best class of occupation that could suit your child.

Instead of focusing on specific jobs and positions, our quiz will offer guidance and help you identify what careers your child might be good at.

There are a few different results that your child can get on this personality quiz, so let’s take a closer look at each.




Realistic children tend to be more independent. They’re doers. They enjoy practical work and will often shy away from working with people and ideas, leaning more toward careers that will have them working with tools, machines, plants, and animals. 

Jobs such as mechanics, architects, software testers, analysts could be well-suited for a realistic child.


Investigative children are thought of as thinkers. They tend to have a more analytical approach to solving problems and dealing with life.

They’re curious, intellectual, pensive, and enjoy conducting experiments and tinkering with various toys and items in order to learn more about them and improve them. 

Like realistic children, they don’t typically enjoy working closely with people so much, always preferring to analyze the world from a distance. 

They thrive in math and science, making them suitable for careers as engineers, anthropologists, programmers, and researchers.


The social personality type can be easy to recognize as these children tend to be very outgoing, friendly, and understanding.

They’re helpers, responsible, enjoy being surrounded by other people, and they’re generous.

These children normally have strong moral values that guide most of their decisions. 

Naturally, the best career choices for such children are of a social nature. They make excellent teachers, guidance counselors, managers, nurses, psychologists, and social workers.


Enterprising personality types are unsurprisingly leaders. They’re thought of as persuaders, being organized and influential, always making others follow their way.

These children enjoy being in charge, they rely on their intuition rather than facts to make decisions, and they like taking risks.

Many see this personality type as careless and irresponsible, but these children are often simply enthusiastic and quick to make decisions. 

The best career choices for this personality type include sales agents, real estate agents, lawyers, politicians, and PR managers.


The conventional type likes to follow orders. They’re detail-oriented, quiet, responsible, and above all – organized.

They enjoy rules and structure, but generally don’t like being in a position of authority. These children can work well in almost any properly organized environment, as long as they have specific tasks they need to do and rules on how to do them. 

Conventional kids typically enjoy careers as accountants, IT administrators, business managers, financial analysts, safety inspectors, and legal assistants.


The artistic type is the exact opposite of the conventional type. These children don’t like any rules or structures and will do all they can to avoid repetitive tasks and routines.

They’re creators, innovative, free-spirited, and worry-free. They enjoy self-expression and will thrive in creative environments. 

Being imaginative, artistic children often follow more creative career paths, not just as artists, painters, actors, and musicians, but as creative writers, journalists, editors, interpreters, directors, and graphic designers. 

Of course, not all children of the world can be classified into just six personality categories. Everyone has a unique mixture of all these types, but their strongest traits lead them into specific directions that can be so broadly categorized.

Use this personality quizz as a guide, not as a strict instruction manual on what your child should or shouldn’t do.

Important Considerations During The – What Should I Be When I Grow Up – Career Talk

Mom giving kid important considerations

Regardless of your child’s age and the seriousness of your career discussion, there are a few things that you should always consider when speaking with your child about this.

Don’t Force Your Child to Be Just Like You

Your child should not be used as a way for you to achieve your own goals and dreams. Understand that your child is their own person with their own aspirations, don’t force them to become just like you, and share your ideas of a good career path for them. 

Parents have a huge influence on their children’s career choices as is. There’s no need for you to put any additional pressure on your kid by having established goals for them.

Help Your Kid Explore All Career Options

Your child will go through countless phases and aspirations; don’t dismiss any of them. We all pretty much know that our kids aren’t likely to become Jedis or ninjas, maybe not even police officers or teachers, but it’s important to support every dream job they think of growing up. 

Help your child explore their options. Show your enthusiasm for their dream, and help them gather information about these diverging careers. Who knows, maybe ninjas make a comeback in 10/15 years and become highly sought after.

Discuss Their Role Models

The most important role models a child may have are their parents. However, as they grow, children start looking up to others as well, their neighbors and teachers, their peers, fictional characters, and TV personalities. 

It’s important to always talk with your child, here are 101 ways to do that.

In this article, we’ll focus on talking about their role models, as they’re extremely important and will influence your child’s career choice, appearance, and behavior, even their way of solving problems and dealing with difficulties. 

When discussing your child’s role models, help them identify what it is about a certain role model that makes your kid like them so much. This way, you can help them develop similar strengths as the role model, and curb some of the weaknesses that they might admire.

Talk about the Challenges and Potential Obstacles of Certain Careers

If your child wants to become an astronaut, you’ll need to explain that they’ll need to work hard for it. They need a good education, extensive knowledge in engineering, mathematics, physics, biology, and they’d need to pass a strenuous physical examination. 

If they want to become firefighters, you’ll need to explain that this is a dangerous profession that requires them to be quick thinkers fast on their feet and with good judgment. 

Every career has challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome, and your child needs to be aware of this. That information can help them develop the necessary skills for certain positions or tell them that perhaps another career may be better suited for them.

Guide Your Child, But Don’t Make Decisions for Them

Finally, it’s crucial for you to understand that you’re there to guide your child, not make their decisions. Keep your child informed, give them your advice, explain to them why you think a certain career would be better for them than some other, but above all – support your child. 

Trust their decisions and judgments and help them achieve their dreams.

Final Thoughts

“What should I be when I grow up” is an important question that every child will ask, usually more than just once. Be sure you know how to respond to this question, and help your child grow and develop the skills and talents they’ll need to achieve their dreams.

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