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Ranking of professions from most to least respected

27. (Least dishonest) Nurses

Nurses are the most respected professions because of their honesty
michaeljung / Shutterstock

Let's start with the positives, and the most trusted occupation according to the survey: nursing. In fact, Gallup says nurses have been picked as the most ethical professionals for the 16th year in a row.

Nurses are seen dedicated, caring people who love what they do. Want to be a nurse? The median pay is $68,450, and jobs are expected to grow by 15% over 10 years.

26. Military officers

smiling african american soldier in military uniform holding daughter on arms at home
LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Like nurses, military officers are rated as "high" or "very high" for honesty and ethics.

A young person aspiring to this respected profession can find a range of job possibilities, including in human resources, procurement and even combat operations. Officers receive pay increases of as much as 3% per year.

25. Medical doctors

Mid adult male doctor holding digital tablet with colleague and receptionist standing in background
Tyler Olson / Shutterstock

Doctors work hard, put in long hours, deal with a lot of pressure — and save lives. They have the support of Americans, who believe the medical field is filled with honorable and ethical people.

A physician must go through a great deal of education and training, but the payoff is a median salary of almost $208,000.

24. Grade school teachers

education, elementary school, learning, technology and people concept - group of school kids with teacher looking to tablet pc computer in classroom
Syda Productions / Shutterstock

Want a rewarding job where you'll feel admired? Here's a lesson: Survey respondents give apples and A's to grade school teachers.

Becoming a grade school teacher requires only a bachelor’s degree, and the job offers a median salary of $55,490.

23. Engineers

Engineer Planning Project With CNC Machinery In Background
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock
Engineers solve problems in a broad range of areas.

Engineers are the problem solvers who make things happen in a wide variety of fields, including construction, energy, agriculture and space exploration.

The Gallup pollsters found Americans put a lot of faith in these professionals who help design dams, bridges, planes, medical devices and many other things that we count on to be safe and reliable.

22. Pharmacists

Pharmacist in drugstore
pikselstock / Shutterstock

Pharmacists continue to win a lot of respect, but Gallup says their scores for honesty and ethics have fallen to the lowest level since 1994. One reason may be the opioid crisis and rising prescription drug deaths.

A pharmacist not only handles potentially dangerous pills, but also helps keep patients on a path to wellness. The median salary in this field is more than $122,000.

21. Dentists

Female dentist examining a patient with tools in dental clinic. Doctor doing dental treatment on man's teeth in the dentists chair.
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
Americans trust that their dentists have high ethical standards.

The dental chair is one of those places where a person feels really vulnerable. You're lying back with your mouth filled with tools and with a drill or scraping device dangerously close to some very tender spots.

You have to put a lot of trust in your dental professional — and poll results suggest Americans do. Six out of 10 say dentists have "high" or "very high" ethics.

20. Day care providers

Happy child care worker with children drawing in a kindergarten
Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

No one should be surprised that day care providers finish near the very honest end of the scale. Working parents trust that these child care pros will take good care of their kids during the workday.

Parents can feel confident about day care providers because states require them — even those who work out of their own homes — to be licensed and pass background checks.

19. Police officers

Police officer on duty
Tana888 / Shutterstock

Police officers are first responders who are on the front lines, dealing with traffic accidents, assisting in medical calls and making the initial reviews at scenes of serious crimes, such as murders.

Although we recently have seen several issues involving police officers and the public trust, the profession still scores very high for ethics and honesty.

18. Psychiatrists

At the psychologist. Top view of beautiful young woman lying on couch while doctor is making notes
George Rudy / Shutterstock
Psychiatry has faced a fair amount of skepticism from the public.

Patients who use psychiatrists need to have confidence that the doctors will lead them to better mental health, but the profession has faced a fair amount of skepticism from the public.

Psychiatrists are seen as having "high" or "very high" ethical standards by fewer than 4 in 10 Americans in Gallup's occupational honesty polling.

17. Clergy

Preacher and Congregation, portrait, high angle view
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock

If this survey had been conducted a few hundred years ago, the clergy might easily have locked down the top spot for honesty. But the calling has become tarnished by scandals.

Gallup says clergy members are still seen mainly in a positive light, but their rating for ethical behavior has fallen to the lowest level in 40 years of surveying.

16. Chiropractors

Good looking doctor showing a patient something on skeleton model in bright office
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock
There's a kink in public perceptions of chiropractors.

Here's something for chiropractors to get bent out of shape over: Like psychiatrists, these health care professionals get much less respect than medical doctors.

Chiropractors aren't strangers to criticism over their method of treating ailments: by adjusting people's spines. Still, patients swear by them, and chiropractors can't practice without a doctorate or state license.

15. Auto mechanics

car service, repair, maintenance and people concept - auto mechanic man or smith working at workshop
Syda Productions / Shutterstock

You know that gnawing feeling when you take your car to a garage you've never used before — and wonder if you'll be treated fairly? That may help explain why auto mechanics are in the middle of the pack.

They score mostly just "average" for honesty and ethics. The uneasy feeling goes away once you find a mechanic you like and know you can trust.

14. Judges

Portrait of judge pounding mallet in courtroom
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock

Americans love Judge Judy, who has had the top daytime TV show for years. But they're not so sure about her profession.

Judges are supposed to maintain the highest honesty and ethical standards, but survey respondents were split on whether to rate them "high" for trustworthiness — or just average.

13. College teachers

Professor giving class at the classroom
ESTUDI M6 / Shutterstock
The Gallup polling puts college teachers near the front of the class when it comes to honesty and ethics.

Do you have any idea what college costs these days? Tuition, room and board at a four-year private university now averages $47,000, the College Board says. That's per year.

At those prices, a family wants to believe that the faculty can be trusted to provide a good education. And Gallup says about half of Americans do give college professors top grades for ethics and honesty.

12. Local officeholders

Election Candidate With Thumbs Up
John Gomez / Shutterstock

Voters want to have faith in the officeholders who write local laws and deal with the municipal issues that affect them directly. However, corrupt local politicians ruin it for their profession.

They rate just "average" for honesty, though that's better than their counterparts in higher levels of government.

More: Most dishonest professions

11. Bankers

Senior businessman showing a document to sign to a couple
Minerva Studio / Shutterstock

When we hand our money over to bankers, there's obviously a lot of trust involved. But the profession is another one that's mostly seen as just "average" for ethics.

Could that have something to do with all the fees that banks charge? They're easy enough to avoid — if you shop around for an account that doesn't have them.

10. Nursing home operators

a nurse in elderly care for the elderly in nursing homes
Lisa S. / Shutterstock

We now enter the 10 professions that Americans rate lowest for honesty, and leading the pack are nursing home operators.

Allegations of abuse and neglect have hurt reputations in this profession and have left the public wary whenever it's time to find a place for elderly loved ones who need care.

9. Lawyers

Business - team in an office
Kzenon / Shutterstock

Sure, you've heard the lawyer jokes, and you're probably familiar with the ambulance-chaser stereotype. But you might also know lawyers who work hard for their clients, maybe including your family.

Still, only 18% of Americans say attorneys maintain high standards for ethics and honesty.

8. Business executives

Board Room Brainstorming Collaboration Office Concept
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

CEOs typically make around $200,000 a year (but many earn WAY more), and they're the ones who cut other people's jobs. So maybe it's no wonder Gallup found many people don't trust them.

But executives also face tremendous pressure meet profit goals and keep investors happy, and decisions to lay people off or cut benefits aren't easy to make.

7. State officeholders

Female politician making speech at podium
Blend Images / Shutterstock

A full one-third of Americans describe the ethics of the people who make laws at the state level as "low" or "very low."

Why? Reasons might include nasty partisan politics at the state level, or the feeling many citizens have that politicians don't care about them — except at election time.

6. Advertising professionals

Young businessman voicing his ideas or plans
Pressmaster / Shutterstock

Does "Mad Men" have something to do with this low ranking? Come on — that was the 1960s! Then again, Americans might have gotten wise to the ways today's advertising pros try to manipulate them.

Survey respondents were almost three times as likely to score advertisers as "low" for honesty and ethics, vs. "high."

5. Newspaper reporters

Newspaper journalists have one of the worst scores at the dishonesty end of the spectrum. Is the "fake news" slur against mainstream media taking a toll?

Who knows. Note that Gallup says Democrats tend to see reporters as much more honest than Republicans do.

Male journalist with eyeglasses checking written article on blank paper
GaudiLab / Shutterstock

More: These are disappearing jobs

4. TV reporters

Male anchorman in tv studio. Live broadcasting
Michael Dechev / Shutterstock

Like their newspaper cousins, television reporters don't command a lot of admiration from members of the public. Around 4 in 10 Americans rate them "low" for honesty; about as many say they're just "average."

As with newspaper reporters, Democrats trust TV reporters more than Republicans do.

3. Car sales people

car salesman on lot with price sticker on cae selling
Gunter Nezhoda / Shutterstock

Apparently, the stereotype of the sleazy car sales person endures because only 10% of Americans say these professionals have high ethical standards.

It would seem that lemon horror stories capture the public's attention, and customers' good experiences with car salesmen and saleswoman take a back seat!

2. Lobbyists

Smiling white man looking at the camera.  He's a lobbyist standing outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, United States.
Jim Pruitt / Shutterstock

Lobbyists represent insurance companies, cigarette makers and other businesses and try to influence policy. The job can involve a lot of schmoozing, and lobbyists often play a big role in writing legislation.

The public doesn't trust the process, or the lobbyists. They're thought to have low or very low ethical standards by 58% of Americans, a showing almost as bad as the very worst profession.

1. (Most dishonest) Members of Congress

Capitol building Washington DC sunset at US congress USA
holbox / Shutterstock

Finally, here's something Americans agree on: Federal lawmakers have terrible ethics. Both Democrats and Republicans in the survey rated members of Congress as the most dishonest profession.

Partisan bickering and personal and political scandals have given Congress a bad reputation. TV shows like House of Cards probably haven't helped.


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