Scientists and doctors are the most respected professions worldwide

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
Jamie BallardData Journalist
February 08, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

A new international YouGov survey of more than 22,000 people in 16 countries reveals the most and least respected professions. 

To test how people feel about a line of work, we asked respondents whether or not they would be happy for their child to go into each given job. The figures shown in this article are the net score each profession received (i.e. the number of people who would be happy for their child to do that job, minus the number who would be unhappy for them to do it). 

Coming top of the list are scientists, with an average score of +72 across the 16 countries. Doctors are not far behind, on +69. 

Also scoring highly are architects (+67), senior managers in large companies (+64), and lawyers and graphic designers (both +57). 

At the very of the bottom of the list are miners, with an average score of -28, although in some countries it is far lower, like Spain (-71), Mexico (-55) and Italy (-52). 

There are only two countries in which miners get a positive score: Australia (+17) and Sweden (+6). 

The positive score in Australia is no doubt because miners can make a lot of money there. In 2011 the Wall Street Journal reported the case of miners making $200,000 a year in Australia, and research firm PayScale suggests that the average annual pay for a miner in Australia is currently AU$110,000 (equivalent to about $85,000). 

Other relatively undesirable jobs include call-center workers (-11), truck drivers (-11), factory workers (-6) and social media influencers (-3). 

What are the most and least respected professions in America? 

Within the US, the most respected professions are medical doctor (+70) and scientist (+68), followed closely by architect (+66). 

Compared to other countries, Americans are especially likely to have a favorable view of builders/construction workers at +44 (38 points higher than the international average) and truck drivers at +21 (32 points higher than elsewhere). They’re also likely to hold nurses in especially high esteem at +63, which is 22 points higher than the international average of +41 for this profession.   

Overall, US adults tend to regard most of the listed professions more positively than negatively, though there are a couple of exceptions. Americans tend to think little of the jobs of miner, which gets a score of –19, and social media influencer, which ranks near the bottom with –7.  

Perceptions about being a police officer tend to vary greatly between countries. In the US, it gets a relatively low score of +14. In Australia, Germany, and the UAE, respondents give police officers a score of +40 or higher. In Mexico, the profession ranks very low, at –56.  

Attitudes towards any given job tended to be lowest in Mexico and Spain. In fact, of the 24 jobs we asked about, 11 received their lowest score in Mexico. 

Gender differences 

Receptionists, graphic designers, lawyers, architects and social media managers tend get higher scores with women across the global study. By contrast, miners and truck drivers tend to have higher scores among men. 

There are notable differences depending on the country, however. In Mexico and Indonesia, for instance, there is a much more pro-male regard for builders, firefighters and truck drivers than is seen elsewhere. 

In Italy and Sweden, almost every profession is seen more favorably by women than men. It is also noticeable that in every single European country women are much more likely than men to feel positively about receptionists (the rate is much lower in the rest of the world). 

Age differences 

In news that will surprise no-one, the job of social media influencer is the one that most divides young and old, scoring +15 on average among 18-to 24-year-olds worldwide, but -15 among those aged 55 and above. 

More surprisingly, the newest job on the list is as divisive as the oldest: miner. Younger people rate the job at -16, while older people give it -44, a 29pt difference. 

In the United States, older people tend to hold some jobs in higher esteem. Those 55 and older are especially likely to have a favorable view of architects, giving them a net score of +73, while 18-to-24-year-olds give this job a score of +54.  

In keeping with the international averages, young people in America tend to have a more positive view of social media influencers (+8 vs -20 among those 55 and older) and miners – though both young and old Americans give this profession a net negative score (-8 vs -34).  

See full results here.  

Methodology: 21,878 adults, including 2,065 US adults, were surveyed. This survey was conducted November 13 – December 1, 2020. Results are weighted to be representative of each country’s population.   

Image: Gender Spectrum Collection