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Five jobs that will impress your kids

Pilots in the cockpit during a commercial flightYou might impress guests at parties when you tell them that you’re an investment banker or a corporate lawyer, but their children are more likely to be wowed if you own a sweet shop or drive a big lorry. We give you the low-down on five jobs guaranteed to have your kids bragging in the playground…

Airline pilot

Flying passenger and cargo planes around the world, while wearing a smart jacket and cap, is one job that will win you the admiration of children and grown-ups alike.You’ll need good hand-eye co-ordination, good teamwork skills and the ability to remain calm under pressure and take control in a crisis. You’ll also have to be able to tolerate irregular working hours and travel is obviously a major part of the job! A head for figures and the ability to analyse data and to accurately follow instructions from Air Traffic Control are also vital for pilots.

Qualifications required: Aspiring aviators need to gain an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL), which is initially awarded as a “frozen ATPL” – which allows them to work as a first officer alongside a more experienced pilot. Licences can be gained via a Civil Aviation Authority-backed training course or via a conversion course following military service. Civilian courses cost £50k to £60k and there is intense competition for pilot roles in the RAF.

Salary: First officers might earn £21k to £43k depending on experience and their employer. Captains can earn £55k to £80k – with the longest-serving individuals getting paid up to £100k.

Few jobs will impress a schoolchild as much as digging up dinosaur fossils – and that’s exactly what some palaeontologists do (some of the time anyway). The study of plant and animal remains and fossils, palaeontology requires a strong scientific background and the ability to present and relate the findings of your research. Palaeontologists can find employment with universities, museums, in the energy industry or in certain parts of the media – and their work is carried out in the field, in the lab, in the classroom and sometimes in a commercial setting.

Qualifications required: An undergraduate science degree (BSc) is a pre-requisite, usually in palaeontology, zoology, botany or Earth sciences. Masters and higher-level academic qualifications are also commonly taken by aspiring palaeontologists.

Salary: Most will begin in research palaeontology as a PhD student earning £13k to £14k. After gaining a doctorate, salaries of £29k to £36k are to be expected. Wages in industry range from £23k to £42k and senior academics can earn as much as £60k.

Driving around in a big red fire engine, putting out fires and rescuing people from burning buildings or cats stuck up trees – most children have got a clear idea of what a firefighter’s job involves. Of course this idea doesn’t necessarily reflect the day-to-day working lives of most firefighters, but emergency response is a major part of the job – combined with fire prevention work, training and safety checks on public premises. Firefighters require a good level of physical fitness, both aerobic and in terms of strength.

Qualifications required: Each fire service recruits individually but in general GCSEs are required and although people can apply beforehand, firefighters are not recruited until they reach the age of 18. Physical and written tests must also be passed – and the best way to find out more (and show your commitment to the job) is to join a brigade’s Young Firefighters Scheme.

Salary: Trainees earn £21k, rising to £28.5k after probation is complete. Crew managers can earn £31.5k and station managers up to £40.5k.

Horse groom
It’s not a job for would-be high flyers or anyone who wants to get rich, but becoming a horse groom is a dream job for plenty of youngsters. A real interest in horses and looking after them is obviously required, along with the ability to stick to a routine and to organise your own working day when required. Grooms must feed and care for horses, mucking out their stables, cleaning tack and checking up on their health. They may even have to assist vets when foals are born.

Qualifications required: There are no formal qualifications although employers will expect you to demonstrate an affinity with horses through helping out at stables or other involvement.

Salary: Grooms can expect to earn £10k or more.

Train driver
From Chigley and Ivor The Engine to Thomas The Tank Engine and most-recently Chuggington – trains have long been a feature of children’s television – and of their job aspirations. Unlike being a professional footballer, ballerina or astronaut, there’s a reasonable level of demand for paid employment driving trains – making it one childhood ambition that’s achievable for many. The ability to stay focused for long periods is vital. As well as actually driving the trains, you’ll also have to communicate with the control centre, follow signals, perform safety checks, open and close doors and make passenger announcements.

Qualifications required: There are no specific requirements, but a good general education is needed – including GCSEs in maths and English. It’s not usually possible to work as a train driver before the age of 21 on the UK network, so many people go into the industry on the maintenance or station side first.

Salary: Trainee drivers can expect to make £18k to £22k, rising to £30k or more once qualified. Experienced drivers can earn £35k to £48k.

Salary information is taken from the National Careers Service.
Image: © Carlos Santa Maria –

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