June 5, 2008 / 5:34 PM / 11 years ago

Teacher's pet or jock? School roles influence job choice

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Whether you were a geek, athlete, cheerleader, teacher’s pet, class clown or honor student in high school, chances are it influenced your career choice.

Cheerleaders perform during the opening ceremony of the 11th IAAF World Athletics Championship in Osaka August 25, 2007. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Thirty-nine percent of 6,000 full-time workers questioned in a survey said their experiences in high school had an impact on their career.

Geeks gravitated toward engineering and retail jobs. Athletes tended to work in the transportation industry, while former cheerleaders, who were more likely to reach vice president level, were drawn to careers in travel and insurance.

Cheerleaders also had the second highest level of job satisfaction, after teacher’s pets, at 76 percent.

“These are enthusiastic individuals, they’re strong motivators. They know how to get others excited about projects. You can see how that enthusiasm and motivation can translate into a role where you’re in charge of managing a large department or whatever it may be,” said Jennifer Grasx, of CareerBuilder.com which conducted the survey.

Former members of student government earned the most money and tended to work as directors or managers. Twelve percent reported making $100,000 or more, and nearly half had a salary of $50,000 or more. But they were also the most dissatisfied with their career progress.

Forty-one percent of teacher’s pets held administrative or clerical positions, many in the construction, banking and finance sectors. Although 37 percent earned less than $35,000 a year, the majority were happy with their jobs.

Nearly 60 percent of former honor society members chose professional and technical services jobs, many in the healthcare industry, while many former athletes had careers in the transportation sector.

“I thought it was really interesting when we thought about the traits, and we thought about the industries and professions they were drawn to — there were some interesting correlations there,” Grasx added.

Seven percent of former athletes, geeks and class clowns earned six figures, and 45 percent of athletes earned over $50,000 a year. More than half said they were satisfied with their career progress.

Geeks and class clowns reported the most job dissatisfaction, at 21 and 18 percent respectively. Thirty-one percent of geeks were also unhappy with their career progress.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Patricia Reaney

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