The UK's top 10 dream jobs

And how to make them a reality

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What job do most British people dream of? You might be surprised. A survey has revealed that Napoleon was right, and we really are a nation of shopkeepers.

But while more people surveyed wanted to own their own shop than pursue any other career, the study, commissioned by American Express, found that only one in 20 of these actually planned to do so.

Some dream jobs are harder to achieve than others; but all of them are possible. We look at the top 10 and ask what you need to do to make them a reality.

Shopkeeper

Opening a shop carries a fair bit of risk - which is perhaps the reason why the number of independent shops in the UK has declined over recent years. Renting premises and buying stock don't come cheap. But with the rise of internet shopping, it's now possible to test out the waters with an online store, moving to bricks and mortar once the business is properly up and running. You don't need any specific expertise, although a knowledge of basic accounting would certainly be useful; the National Skills Academy for Retail runs courses on this and other relevant topics such as retail law and health and safety.

Musician

Being a musician is the most popular creative job on the list - but making a living isn't easy. There are ways, though, to get yourself noticed. The BBC Introducing programme can help: uploading your tracks to the site gives you a chance of getting your music heard on the radio. Getting a recording deal means submitting demos - the Showcase website will tell you where to send them. And don't neglect social media: if you can get a good following, you're that much more likely to be taken seriously.

Scientist

If you want to be the next Einstein, you'll have to start young. But there are plenty of scientific careers that don't require you to have a doctorate under your belt. As a laboratory technician, you can be involved in every aspect of research, from setting up experiments to recording the results. You'd generally need at least four GCSEs including science, maths and English.

Actor

Most successful actors have had some sort of professional training, such as drama school or university. An easy(ish) way in for those without, though, is to start out as an 'extra'. You don't need to be young and beautiful - indeed, pensioners often get more work than younger people. But be careful which agency you sign up with - many are happy to accept a signing fee but then make no attempt to actually get you any work. The media and entertainment trade union BECTU has more advice.

Artist

Most fine artists have trained at an art college, but it is possible to just start trying to sell your work - craft fairs and markets can be a good place to start. You'll need to be talented, obviously, but you'll also need to be able to promote yourself to galleries (or hire an agent who will do it for you). Be warned: very few people make a proper living as an artist, and most combine it with some other job. The Creative Choices website has more information.

Lawyer

Becoming a solicitor takes commitment. If you have a degree in law, it still takes three years' training; if you have a degree in a different subject, it's four. Non-graduates can become solicitors, but that means at least six years' work. You'll need to demonstrate that you can fund yourself, and get yourself taken on by a law firm for the final part of your training. The Law Society has all the details.

Teacher

The main route into teaching is to do Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) and get Qualified Teacher Status. You can do this alongside a degree, straight after a degree, as a part-time course alongside work or as a full-time course. You'll need GCSEs in English, maths and a science subject - as well as clearance by the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau).

Doctor

Now, this one really isn't for the faint-hearted. To become a GP, you'll need to complete a five-year degree course in medicine and a two-year foundation programme of general training. After that, there's specialist training in general practice which will take another three years. Most medical schools require A-level chemistry, and some require biology too: more info here.

TV personality

There's certainly no set route into becoming a TV presenter, though many have a degree in journalism. Whether you do or not, the best route in is through work placements or through community, hospital or student radio. Building up a bit of experience - and a network of useful contacts - is crucial. The Community Media Association, the Hospital Broadcasting Association and RadioCentre have lists of stations you might approach.

Holiday rep

There are no specific qualifications required to be a holiday rep, though many companies will expect a few GCSEs, especially English and maths. If you want to work overseas, you'll usually need to speak at least one foreign language. Just as importantly, you'll need to be an outgoing person and very well-organised. Work's usually seasonal, and the hours are often very long. There's more information here.

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