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.”
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.”
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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