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What job is highly respected?

Occupational prestige

Sociologists use the concept of occupational prestige (also known as job prestige) to measure the relative social-class positions people may achieve by practicing a given occupation. Occupational prestige results from the consensual rating of a job — based on the belief of that job’s worthiness. The term prestige itself refers to the admiration and respect that a particular occupation holds in a society. Occupational prestige is prestige independent of particular individuals who occupy a job. Sociologists have identified prestige rankings for more than 700 occupations based on results from a series of national surveys. They have created a scale (with 0 being the lowest possible score and 100 being the highest) and then rank given occupations based on survey results. [1]

History [ edit ]

People rate the ‘general standing’ of an occupation (the most common question). It is taken to be a measure of occupational prestige and hence of the social status of occupations. Many other criteria have been proposed, including ‘social usefulness’ as well as ‘prestige’ and ‘status’ themselves. In order to obtain the scale of occupations (which is invariably taken to be national in application), respondents’ ratings are aggregated.

Job prestige did not become a fully developed concept until 1947 when the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), under the leadership of Cecil C. North, [2] conducted a survey which held questions regarding age, education, and income in regard to the prestige of certain jobs. This was the first time job prestige had ever been researched, measured, and taught. Duncan’s Socioeconomic Index (DSI, SEI) [3] became one of the most important outcomes of this survey, as it gave various occupational categories different scores based on the survey results as well as the result of the 1950 Census of Population. During the 1960s the NORC did a second generation of surveys which became the basis for the socioeconomic status (SES) score until the 1980s as well as the foundation for Trieman’s International Prestige Scale in 1977. Out of these surveys and research job prestige has been defined in various ways. Some definitions include:

  • The consensual nature of rating a job based on the collective belief of its worthiness.
  • Prestige is the measurement of the «desirability» of an occupation in terms of socioeconomic rewards.
  • Prestige reflects factual, scientific knowledge about the material rewards attached to certain occupations.

Different people seem to weight these issues differently in their understanding of prestige. Most people seem to implicitly view prestige as a weighted average of income and education and this is the operational definition used in indices like DSI and ISEI. However other people (especially in the working class) seem to have more moralized notions of how much a job helps society and would, for instance, rate doctors high and lawyers low even though both jobs require postgraduate degrees and earn high incomes. [4] [5]

The indicators most commonly used to measure SES come from Duncan’s (1961) Socioeconomic Index (SEI), a composite of occupational prestige, income, and education. Duncan used data from North and Hart’s study of 1949 occupational prestige and census data [2] to conduct the first correlational study of the statistical relationship between education, income, and occupation. Duncan focused on white males with at least a high school education and income of $3,500 dollars or more in 1949, and found correlations among income, public-ranking of occupational prestige, and educational level of around 0.75. The study did not report whether the index included a sample of ethnic minorities. [6]

The SEI model continues to influence the way researchers measure SES. The National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS:88, NCES, 1988) initially employed a measure of SES developed by Stevens and Featherman (1981) based on father’s income, mother’s income, father’s education, mother’s education, and father’s and mother’s occupation as rated by the SEI model. In the first-year follow-up study, the National Center for Education Statistics (1990) used the Nakao and Treas (1994) revised SEI model. [7]

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Calculating occupational prestige in the United States [ edit ]

During the 1960s through the 1980s job prestige was calculated in a variety of different ways. People were given index cards with about 100 or so jobs listed on them and had to rank them from most to least prestigious. This ranking system was known as placing jobs in a «ladder of social standing.» Another method they used in this time period was to have the respondents rank jobs on a «horizontal ruler» using specific guidelines such as estimated income, freedom of choice, and how interesting the job was. No matter what the method the outcomes were generally the same. [ citation needed ]

Although pay and fame have little to do with occupational prestige, measures of prestige are a part of the concept of socioeconomic status (SES). Jobs with high prestige are more likely to have a higher level of pay stability, better lateral career mobility, and established professional associations. Some popular scales that are used to measure SES include the Hollingshead four-factor index of social status, the Nam-Powers-Boyd scale, and Duncan’s Socioeconomic Index.

A 2007 Harris Poll of 1,010 U.S. adults suggested that occupational prestige is linked to perceived impact on community welfare, the highest ranking jobs being firefighter, scientists, and teachers. [8] Lower ranking jobs include well-paid positions such as brokers, actors, and bankers. Police officers and engineers tended to fall somewhere in the middle of the ladder. According to The Harris Poll (2007), the following are the changes over the last quarter century of American’s view as the most and least prestigious jobs:

  • Those who see teachers as having «very great» prestige has risen 25 points from 29 to 54 percent;
  • Those who say lawyers have «very great» prestige has fallen 14 points, from 36 to 22 percent;
  • Scientists have fallen 12 points from 66 to 54 percent;
  • Athletes have fallen ten points from 26 to 16 percent;
  • Physicians have fallen nine points from 61 to 52 percent;
  • Bankers have fallen seven points from 17 to 10 percent;
  • Entertainers have fallen six points from 18 percent to 12 percent.

List of occupations by prestige [ edit ]

Occupations by prestige (NORC) [ edit ]

The list of occupations by prestige assembled by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) in 1989 is the one most commonly used. The list [9] includes over 800 occupations, but only the top 20 with the highest prestige scores are listed here.

Prestige scores

Chief executive or general administrator, public administration70.45
Manager, medicine and health69.22
Aerospace engineer69.22
Chemical engineer72.30
Civil engineer68.81
Engineer (not elsewhere classified)70.70
Computer systems analyst or scientist73.70
Physicist or astronomer73.48
Geologist or geodesist69.75
Physical scientist, not elsewhere classified73.09
Biological or life scientist73.14

See also [ edit ]

  • Occupational inequality
  • Otis Dudley Duncan

References [ edit ]

Notes [ edit ]

  1. ^ Hauser, Robert M.; Warren, John Robert (1997). «Socioeconomic Indexes for Occupations: A Review, Update, and Critique». Sociological Methodology. 27 (1): 177–298. doi:10.1111/1467-9531.271028. ISSN1467-9531. S2CID143449571. We conclude that composite indexes of occupational socioeconomic status are scientifically obsolete.
  2. ^ ab
  3. North, C.; Hatt, P. K. (1949). «Jobs and Occupations: A popular evaluation». Opinion News. 9: 313.
  4. ^ Duncan, O. D. (1961). A Socioeconomic Index for all Occupations. In J. Reiss, Jr. (Ed.), Occupations and Social Status (pp. 109–138). New York: Free Press of Glencoe
  5. ^ Donald J. Treiman. (1977). Occupational Prestige in Comparative Perspective. New York: Academic Press.
  6. ^
  7. Young, Michael; Willmott, Peter (1956). «Social Grading by Manual Workers». British Journal of Sociology. 7 (4): 337–345. doi:10.2307/586697. JSTOR586697.
  8. ^ Donald Easton-Brooks & Alan Davis (2007). Wealth, Traditional Socioeconomic Indicators, and The Achievement Debt. The Journal of Negro Education. Washington: Fall 2007. 76 (4); 530–542.
  9. ^
  10. Nakao, K.; Treas, J. (1994). «Updating Occupational Prestige and Socioeconomic Scores: How the new measures measure up». Sociological Methodology. 24: 1–72. doi:10.2307/270978. JSTOR270978.
  11. ^ The Harris Poll #77, August 1 (2007). «Firefighters, Scientists And Teachers Top List As Most Prestigious Occupations; According To Latest Harris Poll:Bankers, Actors And Real Estate Agents Are At The Bottom Of The List»
  12. ^
  13. «Norc Scores». Colorado Adoption Project: Resources for Researchers. Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado Boulder . Retrieved 26 October 2012 .
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Sources [ edit ]

  • Stevens, G; Featherman, D. L. (1981). «A Revised Socioeconomic Index of Occupational Status». Social Science Research. 10 (4): 364–395. doi:10.1016/0049-089x(81)90011-9.
  • Klaczynski, Paul A (1991). «Sociocultural Myths and Occupational Attainment: Educational Influences on Adolescents’ Perceptions of Social Status». Youth and Society. 22 (4): 448–467. doi:10.1177/0044118×91022004002. S2CID144036559.
  • «In U.S., Women’s Weight Gain Brings Loss of Income, Job Prestige, Study Finds.» Health & Medicine Weekly, 2005, June. Retrieved March 9, 2006, from NewRx database.
  • Schooler, C., & Schoenbach, C. (1994, September). «Social Class, Occupational Status, Occupational Self-Direction, and Job Income: A Cross-National Examination. Sociological Forum.» Academic Search Premier database, 1994, September 431–459.
  • Ollivier. «Too much money off other people’s backs’: status in late modern societies». The Canadian journal of sociology. 2000 vol:25 iss:4 pg:441 -470.
  • Witt, Jon, ed. Soc 2012. 2012. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 245-46. Print.

External links [ edit ]


Aspects of occupations

See also templates Aspects of corporations Aspects of jobs Aspects of organizations Aspects of workplaces Occupational safety and health Employment

Retrieved from «»

  • Sociological terminology
  • Occupations
  • All articles with unsourced statements
  • Articles with unsourced statements from August 2008

Which occupations are seen as most, least prestigious?

Firefighters, doctors, and nurses are seen as prestigious occupations by U.S. adults, while business executives, stockbrokers and real estate agents are seen at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to having prestigious occupations.

These are some of the results of the annual Harris Poll measuring public perceptions of 23 professions and occupations, conducted by telephone between July 5 and 11 by Harris Interactive among a nationwide sample of 1,020 U.S. adults.

Six occupations are perceived to have «very great» prestige by at least half of all adults — firefighters (63 percent), doctors (58 percent), nurses (55 percent), scientists (54 percent), teachers (52 percent) and military officers (51 percent). They are followed by police officers (43 percent) and priests/ministers/clergymen (40 percent).

By way of contrast, the list includes nine occupations which are perceived by less than 20 percent of adults to have «very great» prestige, with one of these under 10 percent. The lowest ratings for «very great prestige» go to real estate brokers (6 percent), stockbrokers (11 percent), business executives (11 percent), actors (12 percent), union leaders (12 percent), journalists (12 percent) bankers (17 percent), accountants (17 percent), and entertainers (18 percent).

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This year, farmers were included on the list of occupations for the first time. Just over one-third of adults (36 percent) say that farming is an occupation of very great prestige, while 15 percent say it has hardly any prestige at all.

There are three occupations that are perceived by one-quarter or more of adults to have «hardly any prestige at all.» These include union leaders (25 percent), real estate brokers (32 percent) and actors (37 percent).

Changes over the last quarter-century

Harris Interactive has been asking about the prestige of different professions and occupations since 1977. Over the 29 years since then, there have been some interesting changes:

* Those who see teachers as having "very great" prestige has risen 23 points from 29 to 52 percent. * Those who say lawyers have "very great" prestige has fallen 15 points, from 36 to 21 percent. * Scientists have fallen 12 points from 66 to 54 percent. * Business executives have fallen seven points from 18 to 11 percent. * Doctors have fallen three points from 61 to 58 percent. * Athletes have also fallen three points from 26 to 23 percent.

Teachers are the only occupation, among the 11 tracked since 1977, to see a rise in prestige.

Changes since last year * Firefighters have risen seven points from 56 to 63 percent. Over the past two years, they have risen a total of 15 points from 48 to 63 percent. * Nurses have risen five points from 50 to 55 percent. * Teachers have risen five points from 31 to 26 percent. TABLE 1

PRESTIGE OF 23 PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS «I am going to read off a number of different occupations. For each, would you tell me if you feel it is an occupation of very great prestige, considerable prestige, some prestige or hardly any prestige at all?»

" Base: All Adults Hardly Very Any Not Great Considerable Some Prestige Sure/ Prestige Prestige Prestige At All Refused % % % % % Firefighter 63 23 11 3 - Doctor 58 30 10 1 1 Nurse 55 24 17 4 - Scientist 54 26 15 4 * Teacher 52 22 20 6 * Military officer 51 30 16 3 1 Police officer 43 26 26 4 1 Priest/Minister/Clergyman 40 28 24 7 1 Farmer 36 21 26 15 1 Engineer 34 35 26 4 1 Member of Congress 28 23 31 17 1 Architect 27 24 33 19 1 Athlete 23 24 33 19 1 Lawyer 21 23 36 20 * Entertainer 18 23 37 22 * Accountant 17 30 40 11 1 Banker 17 29 43 11 1 Journalist 16 27 41 16 * Union Leader 12 21 38 25 3 Actor 12 13 37 37 1 Business executive 11 30 43 15 1 Stockbroker 11 25 42 22 1 Real estate agent/broker 6 17 44 32 1 TABLE 2

29-YEAR TREND FOR «VERY GREAT» PRESTIGE «I am going to read off a number of different occupations. For each, would you tell me if you feel it is an occupation of very great prestige, considerable prestige, some prestige or hardly any prestige at all?»

" Base: All Adults 1977 1982 1992 1997 1998 2000 2001 % % % % % % % Firefighter*** NA NA NA NA NA NA NA Doctor 61 55 50 52 61 61 61 Nurse NA NA NA NA NA NA NA Scientist 66 59 57 51 55 56 53 Teacher 29 28 41 49 53 53 54 Military officer NA 22 32 29 34 42 40 Police Officer ** NA NA 34 36 41 38 37 Priest/Minister/ Clergyman 41 42 38 45 46 45 43 Farmer NA NA NA NA NA NA NA Engineer 34 30 37 32 34 32 36 Member of Congress NA NA 24 23 25 33 24 Architect NA NA NA NA 26 26 28 Athlete 26 20 18 21 20 21 22 Lawyer 36 30 25 19 23 21 18 Entertainer 18 16 17 18 19 21 20 Accountant NA 13 14 18 17 14 15 Banker 17 17 17 15 18 15 16 Journalist 17 16 15 15 15 16 18 Union leader NA NA 12 14 16 16 17 Actor NA NA NA NA NA NA NA Business executive** 18 16 19 16 18 15 12 Stockbroker NA NA NA NA NA NA NA Real estate broker/agent NA NA NA NA NA NA NA Changes since 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 1977 % % % % % % Firefighter*** NA 55 48 56 63 NA Doctor 50 52 52 54 58 -3 Nurse NA 47 44 50 55 NA Scientist 51 57 52 56 54 -12 Teacher 47 49 48 47 52 23 Military officer 47 46 47 49 51 NA Police Officer ** 40 42 40 40 43 NA Priest/Minister/ Clergyman 36 38 32 36 40 -1 Farmer NA NA NA NA 36 NA Engineer 34 28 29 34 34 0 Member of Congress 27 30 31 26 28 NA Architect 27 24 20 27 27 NA Athlete 21 17 21 23 23 -3 Lawyer 15 17 17 18 21 -15 Entertainer 19 17 16 18 18 0 Accountant 13 15 10 13 17 NA Banker 15 14 15 15 17 0 Journalist 19 15 14 14 16 -1 Union leader 14 15 16 15 12 NA Actor NA 13 16 16 12 NA Business executive** 18 18 19 15 11 -7 Stockbroker NA 8 10 8 11 NA Real estate broker/agent NA 6 5 9 6 NA * No trend; NA not asked ** In surveys prior to 2001 we used the words "policeman" (now changed to "police officer") and businessman (now changed to "business executive") which may account for the changes from 2001 to 2002. *** In surveys prior to 2006, we used the word "fireman" (now changed to firefighter) which may account for some of the changes from 2005 to 2006.

Top Most Respected Jobs In The World

We seek to develop our businesses and obtain more fortune. Money is a sign of prestige and people often chase money even with online jobs to get the respect they want from society. At the same time, other parameters determine how accepted you can be from others. After all, it is the recognition we are after and not money itself. It is interesting but research trying to evaluate people’s needs showed that most of us would pick recognition and fame over the possibility to be completely independent financially. Even though people’s most spontaneous response about what they would like to have if a magician was present to fulfill their wish, is money or love, giving them time to consider the issue furtherly made them turn to concepts such as fame and prestige. However, you will be surprised with the answers people give about which they consider being the most respected jobs. Most professions that seemed to be in favor of people’s minds were the ones that were associated with the contribution of a person to society rather than their personal success.

  1. Doctors and nurses
    Health is the most crucial matter in our lives. Whatever is associated with this sector carries a great deal of importance. This is actually a reason why the health industry is so profitable and safe. Jobs that have to do with health are always in fashion since this is something that bothers people’s minds. The doctor seems to be the number one job to increase your prestige. It is interesting though, that people include nurses not only in the list of jobs that are essential for society but that are also respected.
  2. Lawyers
    Lawyers may not address such vital issues, such as health but are traditionally considered to be quite prestigious. They are people who are involved with the law and they can get you out of difficult situations when you are in trouble. Their job is not easy and being good at it requires an amount of effort and study that can be a challenge. The effect they can have on people’s lives is probably what makes them still necessary for society. While being a judge requires more studies and knowledge of the law, lawyers are the ones that pop out in our heads when we think about prestige.
  3. Policemen and firemen
    Security is another hot issue nowadays. With criminality rising due to poverty policemen are essential. In cases of emergency when someone might be trapped or inside a building on fire, a fireman is literally the person who can save you. Realizing that society keeps firemen in a special place inside their hearts. Both professions are brave and the fact that some of us risk their lives to give back to social security and safety is valuable.
  4. Professors and teachers
    Being a professor at the university is not easy. It means that you have collected several degrees and you are a very educated person. The elite is probably going to end up doing a profession like that. Teachers though are the ones who we leave our kids with. They spend more than a quarter of their day being with them. In the meanwhile, working with kids can be exhausting and teachers honestly give a lot of energy to educate future citizens. Because of their offer to the society they are equally respected as university professors.
  5. Scientists and researchers
    Science is the last field that people care about so much. We have seen what technological achievements have brought to our civilization and we are more than happy to welcome scientists and researchers to our world. Again long studies are required and this adds more status to them. Not to bring into consideration the famous scientists that have made discoveries that changed the world. Do you want to give it a try and think how different our daily lives would be without the valuable contribution of science? The ”brains” give answers to things like how we can live life in a comfortable way as well as how our species will survive future challenges. Sciency is still more important than art or other vital sectors in people’s priorities and that is what adds reputation to scientists.
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Anna Siampani April 10, 2021

Anna Siampani

Anna Siampani, Lifestyle Editorial Director at the CEOWORLD magazine, working with reporters covering the luxury travel, high-end fashion, hospitality, and lifestyle industries. As lifestyle editorial director, Anna oversees CEOWORLD magazine’s daily digital editorial operations, editing and writing features, essays, news, and other content, in addition to editing the magazine’s cover stories, astrology pages, and more. You can reach Anna by mail at

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