Job conversations

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Endorsed by Career Development Association of Australia

2 - 7 years
Mother and daughter at store counter

When children notice that some things are ‘work’ and others are ‘play’, they quickly become interested in the different jobs that exist. The more jobs they learn about as they grow up, the more options will be on their radar as they near the end of school. You can help by talking with them about jobs, using these four tips.

Cover different angles

Your child will quickly learn the names of many jobs, but there’s much more to a job than a title. So next time you’re rereading their favourite story about a firefighter, or driving past a road worker for the twentieth time, talk about things like:

  • what people do in the job
  • what they wear – eg uniforms, protective clothing
  • what equipment they use
  • where they work – eg office, building site, small town, seaside port
  • who they work with – eg other workers, customers, people in other countries
  • when they work – eg standard hours, night shifts, seasonal
  • how people can get that job
  • why that job is needed – eg to keep people safe, to feed us, to make games for kids to play
  • what someone with that job could become next – eg a carpenter could become a builder.

Remember volunteers

Not everyone gets paid for the jobs they do! If you see a lifesaver or a school volunteer, chat with your child about:

  • what volunteering is
  • why people volunteer for that job
  • who they are helping
  • what would happen if nobody volunteered for that job.


The world of work has always changed, and it’s certainly not going to stop soon! This is an important lesson to convey to your child, and a great way is by looking at old photos, books or movies together and chatting about:

  • what a particular job used to be like, and how it has changed
  • what a workplace used to be like
  • what equipment people used to use
  • what jobs have disappeared
  • what jobs didn’t exist until recently.

It might make you feel old, but it’s a valuable perspective for your child.

Encourage imagination

Imagining is a great way for your child to ‘try on’ different jobs and think about what those jobs would be like. So encourage your child to imagine what they might want to be when they grow up, and try to find a way to build positively on their idea, no matter what they come up with. ‘A dinosaur hunter? Sounds exciting, and you’d get to do lots of travel! Would you be hunting for living dinosaurs, or dinosaur fossils?’’

More in this series
Father with kids
2 - 7 years
Father and son
3 - 11 years
Father and children
3 - 11 years
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Last modified
19 April 2020