Most Admired US Jobs Don’t Always Pay Top Dollar

Posted November 24th, 2014 at 2:36 pm (UTC-4)

An LAPD cadet commander adjusts his hat before the LAPD cadet program graduation on Nov. 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. Police officers in the United States earn an average annual salary of $58,720. (AP Photo)

An LAPD cadet commander adjusts his hat before the LAPD cadet program graduation on Nov. 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. Police officers in the United States earn an average annual salary of $58,720. (AP Photo)


(Photo by Flickr user Thure Johnson via Creative Commons license)

Wild West Ghost Town Emerges from Watery Grave

Bacon, French toast and eggs. (Photo by Flickr user Karl Baron via Creative Commons license)

What Happens When Americans Tweet What They Eat

Mothman statue, Point Pleasant, West Virginia (Photo by Flickr user

Why Small US Towns Embrace Their Weirdness

Money and prestige don’t necessarily go together when it comes to the jobs Americans admire most.

Although doctors top a Harris Poll list of the most prestigious jobs in America, military officers, firefighters and police officers — who work in occupations that are not known to be particularly lucrative — are also in the Top 10.

Doctors are the highest paid workers in the United States with an average salary of $191,880, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates survey.

The Harris Poll found that 88 percent of U.S. adults believe physicians have either “a great deal of prestige” (45%) or “have prestige” (44%).

The average firefighter salary is $48,270, while police officers earn $58,720. Registered nurses pull in $68,910 annually, architects make $71,790, and engineers $92,170.

The poll results come from an online survey of 2,537 adults that was conducted in August 2014, and also examine which professions Americans find least admirable, many of which pay well.

The least-prestigious occupations on the list include real estate brokers and agents (73%), union leaders (65%), stockbrokers and bankers (62%), and accountants (60%).


Doctors (88%)
Military officers (78%)
Firefighters (76%)
Scientists (76%)
Nurses (70%)
Engineers (69%)
Police Officers (66%)
Clergy (62%)
Architects (62%)
Athletes (60%)

Americans are mixed on some jobs. Opinions are almost evenly split when it comes to how members of Congress, entertainers, actors, farmers and journalists, are perceived.

Those divisions often come down along age lines. Younger people, those under 49 years old, tend to think highly of actors and athletes as opposed to those over 50 who hold the opposite opinion.

And while doctors might top both the money and prestige lists, the poll finds most parents would encourage their own children to become engineers.

22 responses to “Most Admired US Jobs Don’t Always Pay Top Dollar”

  1. kika says:

    and what about teachers? i would like to know if this job is admired there.

    • Ben (USA) says:

      Good question. I looked at the poll. Teachers were rated 60%, slightly below athlete and slightly above lawyer.

    • Bill Webb says:

      Women with good maternal instincts make excellent teachers but I know they usually don’t make the kind of money they are worth.

    • cats meow says:

      Nope. Teachers are not respected or admired in the U.S. nor do they deserve to be.

      • Ben (USA) says:

        Could you explain why they don’t deserve admiration? I would like to hear your opinion

      • Lori says:

        Wow!! Did you really say that? Teacher should be admired!! They work extremely hard and are very underpaid. They have to constantly reinvent teaching and how to keep the children engaged with their schools work. They have certain requirements and demands. They often deal with unruly children with behavioral problems, come from broken homes, ones being abused, living in poverty and some that are just flat out mean. They often have to use money from their own pockets for supplies bc the are underfunded. They carry their children problems home with them bc they have a heart of gold. They love on children that are not “their own”. They spend hours outside of school hours to make things fun. They use their own money for children lunches and snack bc more than you realize school meals are the only meals some children eat at all. Teacher have a profound effect on children that inspire them to do great things!!!! They certainly don’t do it for the money, but because it is a true calling. They absolutely deserve our respect and support and so so much more!!!

  2. Vikas Kshemakalyani says:

    Since all the above said jobs are well paid jobs in USA, must be qualifying the USA to be a very less corrupt nation in the world.

  3. Cranksy (USA) says:

    My fellow Americans, are you sure you like capitalism? You don’t like real estate brokers and agents (property). You don’t like union leaders (labor). You don’t like stockbrokers (ownership) and bankers (capital). What do you like about it?

    • Toolmaker51 says:

      Capitalistic occupations differ from capitalism itself in a significant detail. The occupations mentioned, such as real estate agents, bankers, and so on reap benefits out of proportion to their investment, not monetarily but physically. Imagine the commercial listings section in a phone-book. The ‘most respected’ occupations all sell image and title first. The attempt is to equate service as a product.
      That is incorrect, service is the most temporary of what we pay for, serving the dispensor certainly not less the the recipient. This is result of shift from manufacturing basis for an economy. Even the pitch for that evolution was more marketing than fact.
      Go to any flea market, scrapyard, used car lot, habitat for humanity, de-construction materials, anywhere used products are sold. Any banker boxes of admin records? Meeting notes? Drawing revisions, contracts, retractions,…?
      Compare that to what manufacturing generates. Capital investment – buildings, machinery, tooling, inventory, materials, logistic equipment like forklifts, cranes, trains,…and re-investment in process/ tech/ infrastructure! Each and every one needed the same to be produced too, not different than a continual industrial revolution.
      So, now if everyone were to work for free, what will actually advance society? Regardless what blog is examined, responses are chiefly from those NOT involved in production environments, wondering why they don’t top the ‘respected list’.

  4. jimmmgen says:

    Add teachers to the list of worthy professions that have little prestige and low pay, thanks to the propaganda war that is being waged against them by industrialists such as Bill Gates and the political hacks whose strings they pull. But unlike firefighters and cops, teachers can’t pad their paychecks with overtime.

    We seem to have forgotten that without teachers we wouldn’t have doctors.

    • Mark J says:

      US teachers are quite well compensated, both in international comparisons and compared to other professions.

      Furthermore, public school teachers just aren’t doing a good job, yet they make enormous demands and have huge political power. That is what bothers many people.

      • Ines Moore says:

        Teacher is the most prestigious profession. It is the profession that educates the people. Without teachers there would be no doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, teachers, etc., etc. It is not one of the best pay profession for the years of University studies the have.Most teachers have a Master Degree. We are talking about six to six and a half years of University Education.

      • Ines Moore says:

        Public school teachers are doing the best they can.Most teachers are doing a very good job.

      • jimmmgen says:

        Before you open ur big fat yap about teachers, why don’t you spend some time in a public school classroom. Then you might know what ur talking about.

    • Reginald Watson says:

      jimmmgen I agree with you 100%

    • RetFyrFytr08 says:

      We couldn’t pad our paychecks with OT. Most fire departments have a strict budget and very little is appointed for OT. If you want to trash emergency responders, consider that teachers don’t risk their lives each and every day for others.

  5. Amir Shakeel says:

    I agree with the survey results. Life is precious to almost every one. Every person like to stay out of danger or problem. Help in this regard from any source is appreciated by the concern person. The top five occupations are directly or indirectly related to saving life. Doctors, firefighters and nurses are directly related to saving life. Military officers protect our lives from enemy where as scientists develop new ways and means to improve and make beautiful our life. Police officers have to make decision in favor of one party that’s why people keep little grudge in heart against them. All others do not come in touch with people so often.

    Amir Shakeel
    Karachi, Pakistan

  6. Mark J says:

    Prestige is something that makes a job more attractive and valuable. Therefore, prestige generally lowers the salary people receive for a job relative to a comparable job without the prestige.

  7. GaryOwen says:

    “……….prestige generally lowers the salary people receive for a job relative to a comparable job without the prestige” So this is why sewage treatment operators earn more than airline pilots?

  8. Luke T. says:

    I have to agree with Dora Hasan Mekouar list of Top 10 most prestigious American jobs. I am an College degreed trained Control Systems Engineer by profession and I absolutely love my job. In fact, it does not feel like a job at all and I make $97,000 walking on cloud number 9 every day. Of all the Top 10 most prestigious jobs in America, you must factor in the stress levels that these prestigious jobs have inherent with them.
    Doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters are “high stress, high danger, and high liability” professions in the fact that malpractice (high liability) for Doctors and nurses can usually lead to lawsuits by patients. Police Officers (high danger, high liability) and Fire Fighters (high danger) can at times by exposed to very dangerous and hazardous situations that can lead to loss of property and human life. God bless Doctors, Nurses, Police Officers, and Fire Fighters for really you cant thank them enough for the great work they do everyday.

  9. Tom says:

    Why are teachers not at the top of this list?

    Teaching is the MOST IMPORTANT profession in the world! Teachers shape the minds of our future adult citizens.
    Without teachers there would be no doctors, lawyers, engineers, police, etc., etc.

    For those who think that teaching is an unimportant profession, I invite you to spend 1 full day in a classroom with 30 students – pick any grade, because they are equally important and incredibly challenging. Then tell e if you still feel the same way. My guess is that you will be running out of there before lunch time.

    Teachers wear many different hats. Apart from being teachers they are also: psychologists, social workers, nurses, entertainers, mediators, police officers, surrogate parent, etc., etc. the list is too long.

    • Randy says:

      JHC. Please check your EGO at the door. To think that’s the most important profession is ridiculous. Mom and Dad is the most important profession. Without mom and dad doing their part in the very early stages, you have NOTHING, NOTHING to work with. By the time you get my child, I’ve already read him 10,000 books. Your job is necessary, I’ll give you that, but it’s a JOB. We expect it to be done correctly, just like any job, and it is a privledge. I am pretty sure our babies would grow up without you regardless.