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More schoolchildren want to be doctors amid COVID: poll

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors beat teachers in an annual survey of elementary schoolchildren on what they want to become when they grow up.

In an online poll conducted for three months through Oct. 15 last year by the government, 7.6 percent of first through sixth graders said they want to be medical doctors, making it the second most popular career after professional athletes.

Content creators such as Youtubers and professional gamers were also among the top five careers chosen by the children.

Becoming a professional athlete, chosen by 8.8 percent of the respondents this time, has topped the list for the past three years.

Doctors went two steps up from the fourth most popular choice a year ago, according to poll results released by the Education Ministry and the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training on Wednesday.

Teachers, picked by 6.5 percent, went a step down from the previous year.

Survey results of 23,223 elementary, middle and high school students, 16,065 parents and 2,800 schoolteachers showed that the popularity of doctors, nurses, life scientists and researchers went up amid the prolonged pandemic, the ministry said.

Some 6.3 percent of the children said they want to become online content creators such as YouTubers, Internet broadcasters and streamers, which came fifth on the list in 2018 and third in 2019.

The ranking of pro gamers continued to rise from ninth in 2018 to sixth in 2019 and fifth this year.

Police officers (4.2 percent), cooks (3.6 percent), singers (2.7 percent), cartoonists (2.6 percent) and bakers (2.3 percent) came next.

Scientists, which had been a regular dream job among children in the past, came 17th, chosen by only 1.8 percent.

Compared to the elementary school children, middle and high school students preferred more stable jobs.

Teachers (8.9 percent) were the most sought-after job among middle school students, followed by doctors (6.2 percent), police officers (4.5 percent), soldiers (3.5 percent), athletes (3.4 percent) and civil servants (3.1 percent).

They were followed by beauty designers (2.9 percent), nurses (2.5 percent), computer graphic designers or illustrators (2.4 percent) and cooks (2.3 percent).

The three most popular career choice among high school students were teachers (6.3 percent), nurses (4.4 percent), life and natural scientists and researchers (3.6 percent).

Then came soldiers (3.4 percent), doctors (3.2 percent), police officers (3.0 percent), computer engineers and software developers (2.9 percent), beauty designers (2.7 percent), medical and health care workers (2.5 percent) and civil servants (2.0 percent).

Those who chose the 10 most popular careers accounted for 48.8 percent of elementary; 39.7 percent of middle; and 33.9 percent of high school students, down from previous years, reflecting a growing diversity of sought-after careers, the ministry said.

Some 35.9 percent of high school students said they were positive about starting their own businesses, up 3.5 percentage points from a year ago, as schools expand education on entrepreneurship.

Some 36.5 percent of high school students, up 1.4 percentage point on-year, responded that they were interested in finding a job in small- and medium-sized companies.

By Kim So-hyun (