skip to main content
The changing career expectations of Australian teens

The changing career expectations of Australian teens

Research 4 minute read

New analysis reveals the occupational aspirations of Australian girls have become more concentrated over time, while those of Australian boys have become less concentrated.

The latest issue of ACER’s Snapshots series examines data from the 2018 OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) about Australian students’ occupational aspirations and the roles they expect to be engaged in when they are around 30 years of age.

Around 10,000 Australian 15-year-olds, or 75 per cent of the nationally representative sample of students that participated in PISA 2018, responded to the question, ‘What kind of job do you expect to have when you are about 30 years old?’ There were significant differences in occupational expectations between girls and boys.

The top 10 most commonly named occupations for girls were (in order) nurses, teachers, lawyers, psychologists, medical doctors, specialist medical practitioners, veterinarians, physiotherapists, science and engineering roles, and biologists, botanists and zoologists.

The top 10 most commonly named occupations for boys were (in order) science and engineering roles, electricians, carpenters and joiners, athletes and sports players, medical doctors, lawyers, graphic and multimedia designers, physiotherapists, teachers, and architects.

There are several changes in the top 10 occupations for girls and boys when compared to the responses given in the first PISA study, in 2000.

In 2000, 5.5 per cent of Australian girls and 3.1 per cent of Australian boys expected to be medical doctors. By 2018 only 3.8 per cent of girls and 2.8 per cent of boys had the same expectation.

Hairdressers and beauticians (5.2 per cent in 2000), and decorators and commercial designers (4.9 per cent in 2000) were, respectively, the second and equal-third most commonly expected occupation by girls at the beginning of the millennium but no longer featured in the top 10 in 2018.

For boys, computing professional (11.5 per cent in 2000) was the most commonly expected occupation in 2000 but had dropped out of the top 10 by 2018. Another occupation to fall out of favour with boys was motor vehicle mechanics (5.5 per cent in 2000), after being the third mostly commonly named occupation in 2000.

Overall, the occupational aspirations of Australian girls became more concentrated between 2000 and 2018, while those of Australian boys became less concentrated.

In PISA 2018, the top 10 most commonly named occupations covered 41 per cent of girls’ responses and 33 per cent of boys’ responses. This represents an increase of 3 percentage points for girls and a decrease of 8 percentage points for boys since 2000. ■

Find out more:
Read the full analysis in Snapshots, Issue 14, September 2021 – What are the occupational  aspirations of Australian 15-year-olds? by Lisa de Bortoli. 

Subscribe to the Discover newsletter

Privacy policy