When shown a list of occupations and asked how much prestige each job possesses, doctors top the Harris Poll’s list, with 88% of U.S. adults considering it to have either “a great deal of prestige” (45%) or to “have prestige”(44%).
After doctors, the rest of the top ten occupations seen as prestigious include military officers (78%), firefighters (76%), scientists (76%), nurses (70%), engineers (69%), police officers (66%), priests/ministers/clergy (62%), architects (62%), and athletes (60%).
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,537 adults surveyed online between August 13 and 18, 2014. (Full results, including data tables and full list of occupations, available here)
Meanwhile, there are five occupations Americans are somewhat divided on:
- 1)Member of Congress: 52% more prestigious vs. 48% less prestigious
- 2)Entertainer: 53% more prestigious vs. 47% less prestigious
- 3)Actors: 55% more prestigious vs. 45% less prestigious
- 4)Farmer: 45% more prestigious vs. 55% less prestigious
- 5)Journalist: 45% more prestigious vs. 55% less prestigious
Real estate broker/agent is the profession with the highest percentage of adults considering it to have less prestige (73%), with 50% feeling it does not have that much prestige and 24% believing it has no prestige at all.
The other occupations majorities of Americans consider either to have not that much prestige or to be not prestigious at all are union leaders (65%), stockbrokers & bankers (62%), and accountants (60%).
When broken down by generations, it seems as though younger adults are more inclined to place a high value on fame as it relates to an occupation’s prestige.
Professions Americans would encourage a child to consider pursuing
Interestingly, when asked if they would encourage a child to pursue these same occupations as a future profession, the push to become a doctor (91%) loses by a small margin to encouragement to become an engineer (93%) and ties with the support given to becoming a scientist (91%); nursing (90%) and architecture (88%) also come close behind.
Americans are more split on whether children should be encouraged to become real estate brokers/agents (52% would encourage, 48% would not) and stockbrokers (46% would encourage, 54% would not).
Meanwhile, the four occupations which majorities of Americans would discourage a child from pursuing are union leader (66%), actor (59%), member of Congress (59%), and entertainer (58%).
Consistent with industries’ perceived prestige, Millennials are significantly more likely than older generations of adults to encourage children to pursue careers in the limelight:
- Athlete (65% Millennials vs. 49% Matures)
- Entertainer (53% Millennials vs. 25% Matures)
- Actor (55% Millennials vs. 19% Matures)
While Millennials appear more likely to encourage children towards stardom, Matures seem to be more likely to encourage children to pursue other roles.
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SOURCE: The Harris Poll