It has recently come to my attention, thanks to a friend and long-time reader, that according to a recent Harris poll, firefighters, scientists and teachers are considered to be the most prestigious professions by the public, while bankers, actors and real estate agents are perceived as the least prestigious professions.
Since the survey was first begun in 1977 by Harris Interactive, the most significant change since the survey’s inception is that, with the exception of teachers and clergy, the perceived prestige of every one of the original 11 occupations has actually decreased over the years (the original survey only included only 11 professions in 1977.) For example, the most dramatic drop in prestige was noted for scientists (-12%), lawyers (-14%), athletes (-10%) and doctors (-9%). On the other hand, teachers’ perceived prestige increased by 25 percent since 1977, while farmers showed the greatest increase over last year’s results, gaining 5 points since 2006.
Do you have any idea why the respondents would classify these professions so highly? It certainly isn’t due to fame or income, because none of these professions is populated by famous people nor are they particularly well-paid by any reasonable standard, so what makes these professions so prestigious?
Harris Intactive poll results.