Photo: NASA

More Kids Want to Be YouTubers than Astronauts Because Obviously

The highest-paid astronaut last year brought home around $120,000 — or 187 times less than the highest-paid YouTuber

Chris Stokel-Walker
Published in
4 min readJul 17, 2019


At some point every kid wants to be an astronaut. Living life in the cosmos, eating astronaut ice cream, seeing the blue-and-green marble of the world as it languidly orbits beneath your space capsule…

Except not any more, according to new data.

A survey, timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landings, shows that in the United Kingdom and United States, far more children want to be a YouTuber than they do an astronaut.

Around three in 10 children said they wanted to be a YouTuber when they grew up in those two countries, compared to one in 10 who dreamed of the stars.

Image: The Harris Poll/LEGO

In China, the positions are switched. Fifty-six percent of children there said they wanted to be an astronaut when they grew up, while 18% said they wanted to be a vlogger (YouTube is officially banned in China, though canny use of virtual private networks — VPNs — mean that the site hovers near the top 10 most popular in the country. In its place, proprietary video sharing websites exist, and are massive).

This is being treated by some as some sort of shocking indictment on society, that children brought up in the 21st century have lost their sense of adventure and dreams in a way that the boomer children of the 1960s had.

But in reality, it shows that kids aren’t stupid. And they’re no less likely to think big than those wanting to be astronauts.

The highest earning astronaut can take home around $120,000 a year, according to the United States Office of Personnel Management.

Last year, the highest earning YouTuber deposited $22.5 million into his bank account.

And unlike astronauts, where you have to go through years of rigorous training, the high-rolling YouTuber was these kids’ peer. His name was Ryan, and he is the star of the channel Ryan



Chris Stokel-Walker
Editor for

UK-based freelancer for The Guardian, The Economist, BuzzFeed News, the BBC and more. Tell me your story, or get me to write for you: