About 59% of students saw it as the biggest obstacle as opposed to 33% of those surveyed citing getting the necessary grades.
More than 200 students across the country were quizzed for the new survey commissioned by the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
More than half of students aged between 12 and 19 years (52%) believe the jobs crisis is the main obstacle standing in the way of their chosen career.
Asked whether they thought school was harder for their parents or themselves, 65% thought school today was harder, with an increased amount of pressure to get excellent Leaving Certificate results and to secure a place in university.
Meanwhile, Katie Taylor winning Olympic gold, county GAA triumphs, and the success of the Irish Paralympic team were cited as moments that made young people proud. Some also felt proud of how the country was coping with the recession.
The deadline for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition is Oct 1 next.