What Most Prestigious US Jobs Have in Common…and It’s Not Money

Posted April 1st, 2016 at 2:19 pm (UTC-4)
2 comments

Nine in 10 Americans believe being a doctor is an occupation with "very great" prestige. (Photo by Flickr user Kenny Holston via Creative Commons license)

Nine in 10 Americans believe being a doctor is an occupation with “very great” prestige. (Photo by Flickr user Kenny Holston via Creative Commons license)

The vast majority of American parents — 9-in-10 — would happily encourage their children to become a doctor, an occupation 90 percent of Americans see as prestigious.

A new survey finds that doctors top the list of Most Prestigious occupations. Other professions that are held in high esteem include scientists, firefighters and military officers.

The types of professions Americans hold in high esteem provide insight into what qualities we value as a society.

“The occupations that rise to the top are typically those that are important to civilization [and] society in general,” The Harris Poll’s Kathy Steinberg said in an email. “Medical professionals, scientists, engineers, architects, military, firefighters – these are not your typical 9-to-5 jobs. In some cases, these are people that you literally trust with your life, who accomplish heroic or ‘impossible’ deeds, or leave a lasting legacy, [as] in the case of scientists, architects [or] engineers and we hear about these accomplishments often.”

FILE -- Graduating cadets line up at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. Seventy-eight percent of people surveyed felt being a military officer is a high-prestige profession. (Photo by Mike Strasser, West Point Public Affairs via Flickr)

FILE — Graduating cadets line up at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. Seventy-eight percent of people surveyed felt being a military officer is a high-prestige profession. (Photo by Mike Strasser, West Point Public Affairs via Flickr)

Engineers, nurses and architects are also viewed favorably, as are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), veterinarians and police officers.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the lowest prestige ratings go to public relations consultants, real estate agents, video game developers and stockbrokers. Politicians also fared poorly, with only 40 percent of people seeing that particular occupation as having a high reputation. But this public disdain could be fueled by a lack of familiarity, more than anything else.

“The occupations towards the bottom of the list are less visible to the general public on a regular basis,” Steinberg said. “Most people may never personally interact with some of these occupations — public relations, politician, stockbroker — and what we hear about them in the media may not always be positive. Some of these occupations are also ‘newer’ jobs that older adults, a rather large segment of the general adult population, may be less likely to understand or respect, [such as a] video game designer.”

In this May 6, 2015 photo, a realtor (top) shows a potential buyer a home for sale in Pacifica, California. Just 32 percent of people surveyed viewed the real estate profession as prestigious. (AP Photo)

In this May 6, 2015 photo, a realtor (top) shows a potential buyer a home for sale in Pacifica, California. Just 32 percent of people surveyed viewed the real estate profession as prestigious. (AP Photo)

The poll was conducted among 2,223 adults aged 18 and over. The ratings were consistent across all age groups, although millennials (people ages 18-35) were a little less impressed with the top professions than everyone over the age of 36, with people over the age of 70 being the most enthusiastic about doctors, scientists and firefighters.

Millennials were also a little more positive in their views of politicians, stockbrokers and real estate professional than older Americans.

TOP 10 MOST & LEAST PRESTIGIOUS OCCUPATIONS (Source: Harris Poll)

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2 responses to “What Most Prestigious US Jobs Have in Common…and It’s Not Money”

  1. Naked Emperor says:

    What is wrong with the respondents’ prestige scale? Everyone one of these prestigious professions or occupations involves some degree of general or specific education or training. Why aren’t educators highly regarded?

  2. Marcus Aurelius II says:

    The most prestigious jobs are NFL player, NBA player, TV late night talk show host, Judge Judy, rock music star, Bankster/stock broker/financial analyst, business executives, and top lawyers. These professions require little or no brain power.

    Among the most difficult and valuable professions to society are scientists and engineers. Without them the nation would go nowhere. As engineers are an indispensable human resource industry is not willing to invest in for certain less than glamorous areas that create, maintain, repair, improve, and replace the capital infrastructure of the nation, and as these professions require more than a college degree but a kind of long term apprenticeship and mentoring that hands down real world knowledge and educates successive generations of engineers, outsourcing this function to the cheapest bidder who cannot afford to pay to develop next generation engineers will result is a scarcity in the not too distant future that will threaten the very survival of our technological civilization. These skills and their products are what differentiates the 21st century from the 19th century. The MBAs who advise business have made a fatal mistake. Cost cutting in these areas to improve the short term bottom line will result in long term disaster. They cannot be recreated short term or imported into the US from abroad. US systems, the concepts behind them, the hardware, even the terminology are very different from most of the rest of the world’s.

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