Professional & Graduate Studies

America’s Dream Job

Do you remember what you said you wanted to be when you grew up? Maybe you dreamed about being a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, or maybe you wanted to grow up to be a rock star. Whatever career aspirations you had as a child (or however much they might have changed since then), we wanted to know this: What is America’s dream job? Is it possible to have a dream job? And also, how much money does a dream job get you per year?

To find out what the modern-day dream job looked like, we surveyed 2,000 Americans. Here’s what we found… 

Dream Job infographic depicting who is most likely to have what they consider a dream job.

Who is Most Likely to Have their Dream Job?

Before we dove into what a dream job was, we wanted to find out who was most likely to a dream job. Only 25% of Americans say they’re currently at their dream job, and the people most likely to have one are those who make a high salary, who are a recipient of a doctoral degree, who are a resident of the Southwest, or who is in the Baby Boomer generation. 

Dream Job infographic depicting what the majority of survey respondents said was a dream job and the characteristics of that dream job.

What Does America’s Dream Job Look Like?

We wanted to get an exact sense of what the modern-day American dream job looked like, so we asked our survey respondents to give us some details about what their dream title would be, what kind of commute it would have, and whether or not they would have to travel for work. 

Of our respondents, 41% said they want to be business owners. However, they indicated that they would be unwilling to be business owners if it required them to work more than 60 hours per week. Only 12% of our survey participants said they want C-suite titles, 23% said they want a mid-level management role, and 18% said they dream of having an associate position within a company. 

As far as locations for a job goes, our survey indicated that America’s dream job is in California. Respondents said they want to live less than two miles from work and commute in by car, work from 9–5 at a company that has fewer than 30 employees. Our survey respondents indicated that they wouldn’t mind some travel—saying they would want to travel twice a month—and that they would prefer to work in the entertainment industry. 

As for coworker relationships, a majority of people want to keep things professional (and don’t necessarily want to become besties). Also, a one-hour lunch break would be ideal in their dream job. Even though this dream job has a lot of perks and is in the industry they love, our survey voted overwhelmingly for a large amount of paid time off—a whopping 52 days per year (the average American worker only gets 15)—and for 38 hours workweeks. Lastly, they indicated that they would like the option of working remotely 11 days a month—because sometimes you don’t want to get out of your pajamas. 

Dream Job infographic depicting the characteristics of the dream job based on survey respondents' gender.

American Dream Job Salary and Perks

Now that we found out what America’s dream job looks like, we also wanted to get a good idea of the expected salary and perks that would come along with the job. We wanted to break this data down by gender to see the differences between what men and women want out of a job—and these differences were pretty stark. 

When it comes to dream salary, men say they wanted a salary of $444,958. When our female respondents were asked, it came out to an average of $278,637, which is a vast difference of $166,321. 

The most important perks to men at their dream job are 401(k) matching, help with student loans, a gym membership, office snacks, and the ability to work remotely. The most important perks to women aren’t all that different, but they also included having a flexible schedule and unlimited vacation time. 

As far as the main priority of a dream job, men indicated that they want a good income, flexibility, and creative freedom. Women had the exact same goals, but the way they ranked their priorities were different: they said they want flexibility first, creative freedom second, and a good income came in third. 

Dream Job infographic depicting which dream jobs the survey respondents would prefer to hold over their current job position.

Who Dreams of Doing What?

So, if you’re not in your dream position right now, what do you dream of doing? It turns out that most of our respondents who aren’t working in their dream industry often daydream about working in entertainment. Those who are working in administration, finance, hospitality and food, industrial, infrastructure, insurance, marketing and advertising, professional services, real estate, retail, and those who were unemployed dream of a job working in the entertainment industry. 

However, we did find that there were a lot of industries where our respondents were perfectly satisfied. Those who work in accounting, broadcast and journalism, construction, education, engineering, entertainment, government, healthcare, HR, IT, legal, non-profit and social work, science, and skilled labor and trade are all happy with the industry they are currently in.  


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