August 2 2009|03.53 PM UTC

David Tu

Top 10 Most (& Least) Prestigious Jobs in America: How Much They Earn and How to Land Them

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“When I grow up, I want to be a principal or a caterpillar.”

- Ralph Wiggum

Though most people probably don’t grow up wanting to be a farmer, a minister, or a caterpillar - farmers and ministers are considered by many to have some of the most prestigious occupations in America.  On the other hand, while occupations such as being an actor or an entertainer may seem glamorous, these are not occupations that are held in as high regard by the American public. Below, you will find a list of the ten most (and least) prestigious jobs in America, how much they earn, and how you can land them.

The 10 Most Prestigious Jobs in America

The following jobs listed below are considered by more than half of Americans to be of “very great” or “considerable” prestige. Unsurprisingly, many of them are also some of the most difficult jobs in terms of training, educational requirement, and work environment.



Firefighters are viewed by 61% of the public as having “very great prestige,” and rightly so – with an occupation that puts them decisively in harm’s way in order to save lives and properties, it’s of little wonder why firefighters stand firmly at the top of the occupation prestige list.

If you’re interested in this career path, you should note that fire fighting involves hazardous conditions and long, irregular hours.   Applicants for city fire fighting jobs generally must pass written, physical, and medical examinations.  One should expect heavy competition for this job since it attracts many qualified candidates, but there are opportunities for fast career growth.

Most fire fighters have a high school diploma; however, the completion of community college courses, and in some cases, an associate degree in fire science may improve an applicant’s chances for a job.  There are specific colleges and universities that offer programs for 2-4 year degrees in fire engineering or fire science.

Based on 2006 numbers, the median annual earnings of fire fighters was $41,190.  Average salaries in 2006 for sworn full-time positions as an engineer were, at a minimum of $43,232, and a maximum of $56,045.  For a fire captain, the minimum average annual base salary was $51,808 with a maximum of $62,785.  Finally, for a fire chief, the minimum average annual base salary was $73,435 and at a maximum of $95,271.



From medical scientists, computer scientists, to chemists and material scientists – the occupation of being a scientist scoops up the 2nd place prize for the most prestigious occupation in America, with 54% of the American public viewing the job as having “very great prestige.”

Depending on the specific industry you’re interested in, many “scientist” jobs will require, at a minimum, a Bachelor of Science in the respective field, but having a Master of Science is the industry norm.  Research or applicable-based jobs will also determine the specific academic training you should consider, as earning a Ph.D. has become the usual requirement for careers as a university professor or researcher in most fields.

In accordance with 2006 numbers, medical scientists earned a median annual income of $82,600 if they were in the pharmaceutical or medicine manufacturing industry, while medical scientists earned a median annual income of $71,490 in industries that research and develop physical, engineering, or life sciences.  For chemists and material scientists, their median annual earnings were $88,930 if they worked for the federal executive branch, while those in scientific research and development services earned a median annual salary of $68,760.



Teachers are one of the most important jobs out there since they help shape our younger generation by imparting knowledge and practical skill sets, so it is unsurprising to see them ranked highly on the list of the most prestigious occupations.

A teacher can have a broad range of responsibilities depending on whether the teacher is at a preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, or secondary school.  All public school teachers must be licensed, which typically requires a bachelor’s degree and a completion of an approved teacher education program.  Employment of school teachers is expected to grow by 12% between 2009 and 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations.  Though its growth outlook is the average of all occupations, the size needed in this occupation group will create a demand that’s unmatched by all but a few other occupations. Job prospects are especially favorable for high-demand fields such as math, science, and bilingual education.

For teachers in post-secondary positions, educational qualifications range from expertise in a particular field to a Ph.D., depending on the subject being taught and the type of educational institution.  The job opportunities are expected to be very good, with growth at 23% between 2009 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations, though many of the new openings will be for part-time or non-tenure-track positions.

Median annual income for primary education teachers ranged from $43,580 to $48,690 (with preschool teachers earning a median annual income of $22,600). For post-secondary teachers, median annual income was $56,120, with the highest 10% earning over $113,450. For college faculty, income will range widely based on the field, type of institution (private/public), geographic area, and rank of the institution.



As one of the classic prestigious occupations, a doctor comes in at a close 4th place on the most prestigious occupations list, with 52% of Americans viewing this job as having “very great prestige.”  The reason is an obvious one, as the very nature of their job is to diagnose illnesses and to prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injuries or disease.

Because of the nature of their work, many physicians and surgeons work long, irregular hours, with more than one-third of full-time physicians having worked more than 60 hours a week.  Regardless if it’s a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, the formal education to become a physician or surgeon can be very demanding, as acceptance into medical school is highly competitive.

The job outlook for doctors is expected to grow 14% from 2009 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations.  Job opportunities should be very good, particularly in rural and low-income areas.  A doctor’s earnings are amongst the highest over all occupations, with those having less than two years in specialty still commanding a healthy 6-figure salary: a physician specializing in anesthesiology will have a median compensation of $259,948, while a family practice physician (without obstetrics) will have a median compensation of $137,119.  For those with more than two years of experience in their specialty, the compensation increases dramatically, with those in anesthesiology earning a median compensation of $321,686, and $156,010 for a family practice physician.

Military officer


Military officer comes in 5th on this list. The specific job of a military officer can contain a broad range of responsibilities and skills – from infantry officers to doctors, lawyers, and nurses – and; thus, depending on the specific type of specialty you’re considering, the education and training required can vastly vary.

Regardless of the specific type of officer, many job opportunities in the armed forces will involve you in training and duty assignments that may be hazardous, even in peacetime.  The working hours and working conditions can be very arduous and change substantially based on the necessity and needs of the armed forces.

Earnings for a military officer can vary greatly depending on an officer’s training, years of service, and advanced formal education (for example, physicians and dentists).  Based on the Department of Defense Pay Grades, most commissioned officers will start at the O-1 pay grade (Second Lieutenant/Ensign) , with a monthly pay of $2,469 for those with less than 2 years of service ($29,631 annually), and a monthly pay of $3,106 for those with 4-8 years of service ($37,278 annually).

For those with an advanced education, many will start at the pay grade of O-3 (Captain/Lieutenant).  Starting monthly pay will be $3,292 for less than 2 years of service, and $4,392 monthly pay for 4-8 years of service ($39,504 and $52,704 annually, respectively).  These numbers are based on 2007 numbers, and, we should note that beyond receiving their basic pay, military personnel are provided with free room and board (or a tax-free housing and subsistence allowance), free medical and dental care, and 30 days of paid leave per year, amongst other benefits.



As an occupation that treats and educates patients and the public about various medical conditions, along with providing advice and emotional support to a patients’ family members; the occupation of a nurse can find itself easily on the most prestigious occupations list.

Like many other health care workers, nursing has a broad range of responsibilities and specialties, with two of the nursing occupations being a LPN/LVN (Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse) and a Registered Nurse.  Because of the difference in the scope of their work, their educational and training requirements and earning potentials each vary as well.

A Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse will require about 1 year of training at a program offered by a vocational, technical school, or a community and junior college.  For registered nurses, a major educational path is a Bachelor of Science degree, an Associate Degree, or a diploma from an approved nursing program.  All nurses must pass a national licensing examination, known as the NCLEX-PN for LPN/LVN and the NCLEX-RN for registered nurses.

Since registered nurses constitute the largest health care occupation (with 2.5 million jobs), the growth in this occupation is expected to be 23%from 2009 to 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations.  Registered nurses are projected to generate 587,000 new jobs in the coming years, amongst the largest number of new jobs for any occupation.

Median annual earnings of registered nurses were $57,280 in 2006 based on Department of Labor data, while national averages were from $55,960 to $67,931 based on data. Depending on the specific specialty (ER, ICU, Pediatric) and years of experience, the salary figure can vary greatly, with the highest 10% earning over $80,000.  In contrast, median annual earnings of a LPN/LVN were $36,500 based on 2006 numbers, with the highest 10% earning more than $50,000.

Police officer


Putting their lives in danger to ensure the public’s safety solidifies a police officer’s placement on the most prestigious occupation list.  A police officer’s work can often be dangerous and stressful, even beyond the dangers of confrontations with criminals. Police officers and detectives need to be constantly alert and ready to deal appropriately with many other threatening situations. Be forewarned that a career in law enforcement may take a toll on your private life.

Applicants for a police officer job must usually have at least a high school diploma, and some departments require 1 or 2 years of college coursework, or, in some cases, a college degree.  Most law enforcement agencies will encourage applicants to take courses or training related to law enforcement after high school.  Officers usually will go through a period of training before their first assignment.  In state and large local police departments, recruits get trained in their agency’s police academy, often for 12 to 14 weeks.  For smaller departments and agencies, recruits attend a regional or State academy.

Median earnings for a police officer will vary widely depending on the region, demand, and experience level.  Police and sheriff patrol officers had a median annual income of $47,460 based on 2006 data.  For detectives and criminal investigators, the median annual income was $58,260.  Generally, the pay will scale based on rank and experience too.  For police corporals, the minimum median annual base salary was $44,160, with the maximum median being $55,183.  For police sergeant, the pay increased to $53,734 at minimum, and $63,564 at a maximum median annual base salary.



As the shepherd for the people to conduct religious worship and perform other spiritual functions, a minister, priest, or those in the clergy occupation are another group of occupation that’s held in high regards by the American public.  Because of the vast ranges of religion and denomination, qualifications and training for a minister, priest, or clergy can greatly differ. Some will emphasize natural gifts and others will also require post-secondary education such as degrees from a seminary or theological college or university.  The median annual earnings for clergy work was at $41,730, with the top 25 percentile earning over $55,810, and the top 10 percentile earning over $74,280.



Though many may not consider the occupation of farming to be a glamorous job, it is held in high regards by many people, with 41% of Americans considering the job to have “very great prestige.”  A modern farmer will require extensive knowledge of new developments in agriculture.  Although this is a job that’s held in high regards by the public, overall employment of farming jobs is expected to decline due to increased productivity per yield, and consolidation of the farming industry.

In terms of education and training, many farmers may receive their training on the job, but the completion of a 2-year associate degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree at a college of agriculture is becoming more important for farm managers.  Despite the fact that the employment growth of the farming industry may be in decline, job prospects are expected to be favorable compared to other industries since fewer people are considering farming as a profession and a large number of farmers are expected to retire within the next decade – thus opening more opportunities for people to own or lease a farm.

Because of the nature of their work, the income of farmers and ranchers will vary greatly from year to year, as food products and corps change prices based on weather conditions and market pricing.  Based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture data, a full-time salaried farm manager earned a median weekly income of $1,001 (annual median income of $12,001) and the highest 10% earned more than $1,924 weekly (annual median income of $23,088).



Rounding out the top 10 most prestigious jobs in America are engineers.  From aerospace and agricultural to chemical and civil, engineers are the workforce that help shape our societal and consumer needs. Engineers develop, implement, and create products in a wide range of industries.  Regardless of the industry, all engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems.

Depending on the specific field you’re interested in, you will need a Bachelor of Science in the engineering specialty you’re interested in.  Some basic research position may require a graduate degree, while some engineers who offer their service directly to the public will be required to have a license.   For many of the engineering specialties, such as nuclear, mechanical, and computer hardware engineers, a Master of Science degree in the respective field may be the industry norm.

The growth of the occupation is expected to grow as fast as the average of all occupations, although the growth will vary by specialty.  Specific specialty such as environmental engineers should experience the fastest growth, while civil engineers will see the largest employment increase. Regardless of the specific field, job outlook and opportunities are expected to be good as the number of graduates is in estimated balance with available job openings.

Earnings for an engineer will vary significantly by industry and education. From 2007 numbers, the average starting salary of an aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineer with a Bachelor degree was $53,408, $62,459 with a Master degree, and $73,814 with a Ph.D. For chemical engineers, the average starting salary was $59,361, $68,561, and $73,667 for a Bachelor, Master, and Ph.D., respectively.

The 10 Least Prestigious Jobs in America

While the jobs listed below are held in lower occupational prestige, many of them are still honest (and difficult) work that certainly pays the bill, puts food on the table, and provides a roof over your head.



Starting off the list of the least prestigious jobs in America are our professional athletes. With only about 16% of Americans considering this occupation to have “very great prestige” and about 19% of Americans considering the occupation to have “hardly any prestige at all.”

Because of the wide range of differences in sports, qualifications, and training  – pay can vastly differ.  For a majority of athletes, work hours are often irregular and may require extensive travel.  Competition to become a professional athlete will continue to be extremely intense, as reaching a professional level will often require an extraordinary amount of talent, desire, and dedication to training.

Earnings for athletes will vary depending on the sport, league, experience, and personal demand.  With an estimated employment of over 13,900 athletes in the United States, the mean annual earnings were at $79,460.  The median earning was $40,480 (which may seem surprisingly low), while the top 25 percentile earned more than $93,000, the top 10 percentile earned over $100,000, and a subset group that earned tens of millions of dollars.

For the curious cats, the current highest-paid athlete is Tiger Woods, clocking in at a cool $110 million, followed by three people being tied at second place: Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan (yes, still), and Kimi Raikkonen all at $45 million.  Rounding out the top 5 highest paid athlete is David Beckham at $42 million.  (Special bonus for Cavalier’s fans: LeBron James chimed in at #6 with $40 million).

Business executive


Top business executives came in at #2 on the list of the least prestigious occupations.  Though the job can often be under-appreciated and held in low regard by the public, executives are needed to devise strategies and formulate policies for large corporations and top firms.  Business executives may have a wide range of responsibilities or titles, but, at the end, a majority of them will direct the operations and goals of businesses, corporations, public sector organizations, and nonprofit institutions.

Competition for top executive positions is expected to continue to be heavy due to the high pay of these jobs which attracts a large number of applicants.  Although top executives are among the highest paid workers, they are often straddled with long hours, considerable travel, and an intense pressure to succeed.

Depending on the field of the industry, top executives will usually have a Bachelor or graduate degree in business administration, liberal arts, or a more specialized study.  As with everything, an executive’s overall previous experience in their specific industry will determine their candidacy for a position.  Currently, the growth outlook for employment of top executives is projected to be little or no change for the next decade – especially since many executives tend to leave their job for a position as an executive in another company.

Due to the variety of industries, fields, and positions, pay can vastly differ.  But as an example, the median annual earnings for a chief executive in 2006 was greater than $145,600, though executives of some larger corporations earned hundreds of thousands to over a million dollar annually.  Some of the current highly paid CEOs, based on AFL-CIO numbers are: Bruce Wasserstein of Lazard Ltd., with total compensation for 2008 at $133,708,650; Eugene M. Isenberg of Nabors Industries Ltd. at $116,652,816 for 2008; and Lawrence J. Ellison of Oracle Corporation at $84,598,700 in 2008.



Despite being the voice of the people, journalists are on the list of least prestigious occupations in America, with only 13% of the American public consider the job to have “very great prestige” and about 16% of American public consider the job to have “hardly any prestige at all.”  (Crap where does that put bloggers on the list then!?)

Having said that, being a news analysts, reporter, or correspondent can be an especially rewarding occupation as these are crucial jobs that inform the public about local, State, national, and international events (plus the occasional update on important events such as which reality TV star is dating which 22-year-old hottie).

Most employers will prefer candidates with a Bachelor degree in journalism or mass communication, though some will hire graduates with other majors. Previous experience with the school newspaper, local broadcasting station, and an internship at a news organization are also a definite plus.  Unfortunately, it is expected that there will be little or no change in employment growth through 2016, and, thus, competition will remain heavy for jobs at large metropolitan and national newspapers, broadcast stations, networks, and magazines.

Because of the wide variety in experience level, median annual earnings for journalist was $33,470, the middle 50% earned between $23,370 and $51,700, and the top 10% earned over $73,880.

Union Leader


Union leaders are generally voted to serve based, in part, by their popularity or interpersonal skills. Despite this, the job is still viewed as having “hardly any prestige at all” by a large number of Americans.

The educational background of union leaders differs significantly, and is generally reflective of the specific industry that the trade union is a part of. Essential qualities of union leaders are the ability to manage human resources and be an arbitrator or mediator.



Even though 25% of the American public considers stockbrokers to have “little prestige,” this occupation remains an integral and important part of the economy.  A college degree is the norm in the industry, though competition for even an entry-level analyst job can be heavy, especially in investment banking.  An MBA or a professional certification can be helpful, though advancement can often be very difficult.  Those that are successful will have an extremely lucrative career.

Most brokers and investment advisors must also register as a representative of their firm with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and pass the General Securities Registered Representative Examination administered by FINRA.  This examination takes 6 hours and contains 250 multiple-choice questions.  Beyond this examination, most states will also require a secondary examination with the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination.  Many employers will also consider personal qualities and skills more important than formal academic training.

The median annual earning of securities, commodities, and financial service sales agents was $68,500 based on 2006 numbers, though the middle half of the field will earn between $42,630 and $126,290.  The top 10% made more than $145,600 annually. For those that are interested, you should note that the career is a sales occupation, with many workers being paid on a commission and bonus based system, thus actual earnings may be higher than listed above.



Though they may make us laugh, smile, cry, and occasionally creep us out (e.g., clowns), the occupation of being an entertainer lands on the list of least prestigious occupations in America, since 31% of the public consider the job to have “hardly any prestige at all.”   Because of the wide variety and classification of an “entertainer” – education, training, and pay can vastly differ.

The arts, entertainment, and recreation industry is generally staffed by a large number of seasonal and part-time workers, with many of them relatively young compared to other industries. About 40% of this workforce has no formal education beyond high school. Earnings are also relatively low as an industry whole, though, as with other occupations, the top percentile will earn hundreds of thousands in annual earnings to multi-million dollars.



Accountants and auditors may be an important part of a nation’s firms and businesses, but, unfortunately, this occupation couldn’t escape the list of least prestigious occupations in America, with only 11% of the public considering the job to have “very great prestige.”

A career as an accountant will usually require at least a Bachelor degree in accounting or a related field, but there are advantages for those with a Master degree and certification or expertise with accounting and auditing software.  Regardless of the firm you work for, any accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant.  Along with the CPA certification, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants also provides further qualification and licensing based on specific specialties.

Job outlook for accountants should be favorable, and those that have earned a CPA should have excellent job prospects.   The median annual earnings for accountants was $54,630, based on 2006 data, and the top 10% earned more than $94,050.



Seventh on the list of least prestigious occupations in America are bankers, who only 10% of the public consider them to have “very great prestige.”  Though the banker’s classification is a large one, as specific job responsibilities and title are broad, in a typical consumer banking branch, office and administrative support worker constitutes 2 out of 3 banking jobs, while tellers account for about 3 out of 10 jobs.

There are many opportunities expected for tellers and other office and administrative support workers, as these occupations are in a large field and tend to have a high turnover rate.  A high school education is generally what is required for most office and administrative workers, but management, business and financial occupations usually hire banking workers with at least a college degree.



Though we often see them in TV shows, movies, and theater, actors are not held in high regards by the American public – where only 9% of Americans view the job as having “very great prestige” and a large 38% consider the job to have “hardly any prestige at all.”

To further add salt to the wound, actors often endure long periods of unemployment, intense competition for roles, and frequent rejections in auditions.  Though formal education and training through a university or acting conservatory is typical, many actors find work on the basis of their experience and talent alone.

Except for the most highly successful actors, most will encounter erratic earnings, and many supplement their income by holding jobs in other fields.  The median hourly earnings for actors were $11.61 in 2006, while the lowest 10% earned less than $7.31 an hour and the highest 10% earned more than $51.02 per hour.  Median hourly earnings were $16.82 in performing arts companies and $10.69 in the motion picture and video industry.

For the extreme end of the field, some of the highest paid actors are: Harrison Ford with $65 million; Adam Sandler with $55 million; Will Smith with $45 million; Eddie Murphy and Nicolas Cage with $40 million; Tom Hanks with $35 million; Tom Cruise with $30 million; Jim Carrey and Brad Pitt with $28 million; Johnny Depp with $27 million; and rounding out the top 11 highly paid actor is George Clooney at $25 million.

Real estate agent/broker


Coming in dead last on the list, with only 4% of Americans consider the job to have “very great prestige” and a heavy 34% consider the job to have “hardly any prestige at all.”  Though they may be viewed by the public as the least prestigious job in America, real estate agent and brokers are often hard workers who work late into the evenings and weekends and are usually on call to suit the needs of their clients.

A license is required to be a real estate agent or broker in America. Though attaining a job may be relatively easy, starting workers will face stiff competition from well-established, more experienced agents and brokers.  The median annual earnings, including commissions, of salaried real estate sales agents was $39,760 based on 2006 data. The middle 50% earned between $26,790 and $65,270 a year. The lowest 10% earned less than $20,170, and the highest 10% earned more than $111,500.

Update. Sources: Harris Interactive poll and U.S. Department of Labor.

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{ 117 comments… read them below or add one }

ziad hani August 30, 2010 at 3:07 am

isnt a pilot supposed to be THE most prestigious??????


Anonymous October 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Not really They only fly the plane. The maintanence team is the most prestigious. If it’s not air worthy. The pilot is just a glorified bus driver


Anonymous November 4, 2010 at 7:53 am

Prestige is not directly correlated to the value of the service.. the pilot is generally considered more impressive, and therefore, more prestigious than the ground crew. That being said, in the 70s a pilot was an incredibly prestigious job… most people think of pilots as little more than the upper echelon of taxi drivers now though. (And then of course, there is the possibility they didn’t pole about pilots.)


Anonymous February 24, 2011 at 9:59 am

You apparently do know anything about aviation then. It’s extremely difficult to become an airline pilot (especially for major airlines like United or Delta…).


Chuck April 6, 2011 at 5:59 am

Prestige is not determined by difficulty to obtain, it is determined by “standing or estimation in the eyes of people : weight or credit in general opinion”.

In other words, this is a list of what people in general feel are most important occupations. Occupations like pilots and drivers are not in the same realm of importance as life savers. (doctors and nurses). Its funny how backwards this is, cause if we had good taxi drivers, we’d probably need less doctors :D! Doctors can save us from many of the physical problems we face, where as a pilot or taxi driver gets us from point A to point B.


Person November 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Pilots are a crapload better than bus drivers. Maintanence teams are just sidekicks. Flying a plane is awesome.


Quagga December 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm

okay ya sure umm pilots are boss and they require tons of training so ya well replace your pilot with a busdriver on your next flight and see how that goes :)


Anonymous June 5, 2012 at 5:42 am

you must be very stupid and ignorant to say that…have you ever finish school? pilots deal with a whole lot of stress. Up in the air, its on their hands if you going to live or die. taking off and landing is a whole lot different than driving a bus…not that driving a bus is anything easy either. But you should give a better credit for someone that spend countless years in flight school learning about about the physics that makes those monsters fly…something you will never probably be qualified!!! you will be luck if ever you come close to drive a bus!


Cassandra June 6, 2012 at 7:23 am

I think the more appropriate would be air traffic controller, which I think is very prestigious and is actually considered to be one of the most stressful occupations as well.


Shaunna September 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

yes it is a prestgious job


Anonymous March 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm

That is strange… I fly Super Cobras and hardly fly like a bus driver would. In fact, most of the manuevers are extremely dangerous. The Marine Corps and bus driver don’t sit we’ll together. And we definitely don’t carry passengers, only fuel and ordinance for close air support. I like what I do, but think being an astronaut is top of the food chain.


Ryan Lewis April 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I was wondering the same thing. I expected an airline pilot to be the most prestigious.


..... September 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm

what..? then… the CEO of Bay Street or the CEO of Hollywood?.. I am not sure what is the exact point of being “prestigious” in this article…. Though I can come up with the idea that High School Teacher, police officer, and the other jobs listed in the prestigious spot would probably contain more % of people in the society. Plus, most of the jobs that are listed in “prestigious” are generally the occupations that are more “easier” to become of, well. only except doctor.
Plus, famous “actors”, “athletes” , “business executive”, “journalists” ,”banker”, “union leader” etc… I think it’s undeinable to say that they definitely have more influential powers within the society and leads the people, and make a certain change in a society. If “prestigious” means jobs that are good to make a normally good living, then I can agree with it as “nurse” and “high school teacher” typically does not face much of difficulties of responsiblities as CEO or union leader. Nevertheless, they are not the jobs that are considered as “prestigious” in the society.


Shaunna September 18, 2011 at 8:19 am

what i dont thik so


Becca March 1, 2012 at 7:31 am



SC October 5, 2010 at 7:03 am

I believe the people that took this survey mistook likability and prestigious.


H November 13, 2010 at 5:05 pm

i disagree with a few. i think pilot, business executives and lawyers should also be in the highest prestige spot and although i personally disagree i think most americans hold “celebrities” in much higher prestige than 9%


Stewart December 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

this survey was clearly taken by the working class demographic who only have contempt for those in high positions in society. Lawyers certainly make the most prestigious list.


Ryan Lewis April 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm

i agree 100%.


Bruce December 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm

So what about the Computer Analysts and Architects. Who took this survey? the farmers or the Maids.


Anonymous February 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Haha okay so obviously Bruce does not understand the meaning of the word prestige because farmers are hands down the most prestigious people in any economy. It is ungreatful people like you who take everything for granted such as food, clothing, and shelter, all of which are agricultural products. Farmers spend longer hours doing harder labor than any architect or computer analyst and their labor is essential for life and success in a country. So before you ever open your mouth against a farmer again i suggest you give up every agriculture product for a day and think again about how prestigious the occupation is.


Anonymous March 1, 2011 at 6:19 am

Yeah right. You somehow forget to mention that these poor farmers get to breath fresh air during all their life, avoid stress, lead an active way of life instead of spending all the time at your desk staring at the screen supporting web services which allow you make a post here. So before you ever open your mouth against office professions please give up all the benefits you receive from them.

To me a prestigious profession means a profession that showcases a great deal of personal work, dedication and achievement and puts you in a higher class of society, intellectually, financially and in terms of the power you have to influence other people. Such professions to me are doctors, scientists, lecturers, business executives, prominent positions in politics and government, engineers, architects, members of national sports teams, ballet dancers, judges. Farmer is not on that list. I respect farmers, nurses, builders, firemen etc, but all these jobs are blue collar and to me it is not something I associate with prestige. The competition is less, the risks taken in choosing a career path are smaller, investment (both in terms of time and money) is smaller. I understand that these jobs are essential for the economy, but then every job is important. These are just not prestigious to me.

The harder the job is to attain the more prestisious it is. There many more high school teacher than university leturers because only a small proportion of high school student ever goes to a university. Hence a position of a lecturer at a university is more prestigious. It requires more work to get there.


Dr. M July 20, 2011 at 7:49 am

I couldn’t help but feel concern for you when i read this. Do you have a farming background which you are trying to protect? Farmers are not a prestigious group. They may be vital to the way civilization works, but then again, so are dump truck drivers.


Ryan Lewis April 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I think you have to distinguish carefully between physical labor and mental labor.


luis March 22, 2011 at 10:49 am

i thought a PILOT gets paid well like the top ten best careers


Ben March 28, 2011 at 5:17 am

Personally, I would rate journalist over police officer, but that’s just my bias.


Anonymous April 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm

yes and what happened to lawyers????


Anonymous April 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I would take any of those jobs over my crappy one. I literally am sitting in a living hell as we speak. Yes it pays the bills (somewhat, I live paycheck to paycheck still) and yes I know the economy sucks at the moment. However, there comes a point where happiness has to be a factor as you are forced to spend 40 hours per week of your life at a place. Basically what I do is sit at a desk and wait for email requests to come in regarding ratelocks for a mortgage company. There is one of me and 300 of them- and by them if anyone has worked with commissioned salesmen like this you know how dealing with ONE of them can be, let alone a hundred in one day. The easiset way I can describe my job is electronic cashier who also takes daily emotional beatings, it just flat out sucks. Its a cut-throat industry where half the idiots don’t have an IQ higher than that of a ten year old, yet they still are priveleged to make $100,000 or more in a year. It’s absolutely appalling. My pay? Yeah thats another issue, a whopping $35,000 and I STILL, at the age of 30, have to get someone to “cover” while I take a lunch because the work is that constant. That makes me feel like a little kid. The loan officers cannot do nor do they care to do anything that you ask of them, after all their mentality is to make money and make it fast, by any means. And when they do make a mistake, which is daily, they will argue to the death of why they are losing money because these people are simply THAT aggressive and stupid when it comes to their resources. I like to compare the human race to bears or lions all heading for a steak. And this industry is BY FAR the heart of it.


lawyers arent prestigious April 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

lawyers suck; it would be more accurate to put them in the least prestigious category; just because you are a jerk with a watered down degree doesnt mean people respect you; you have to provide value first.


Barkmeat June 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

CIA operatives, FBI agents, astronauts, navy seals, and the president are definitely up there.


Anonymous June 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm

This list is total bullshit. the most prestigious is investment banker, followed by management consultant, doctor, politician, ….These are all bad professions, but the lure of money and the ideology of capitalism do their job


Judge July 26, 2011 at 4:58 am

What about Supreme Court Judges and Administrative officers?


Annonymous October 22, 2011 at 9:48 am

I believe Olympic Athletes should be high on the list, weird that they are not very pres·tig·ious/preˈstijəs/
Inspiring respect and admiration; having high status.


Security Sammy October 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm

This is an absurd list. I’m in shock that my profession, Security Guard, isn’t listed as prestigious. Of course, I’m not nieve enough to believe it would be considered the most prestigious, but I would think it would come in the top five.

I guess it’s because the general public looks at us as walking human toilets. Such a shame. Oh well, back to work!


brenna October 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

what about animal breeders? whats there prestigious?):


Jellina November 2, 2011 at 10:43 pm

The survey taker may have mixed up Prestige with Honorable.
Teachers are considered Honorable but they are in no way Prestigious.Prestige generally correlates with income ,rarity and power.High paying positions or highly selective positions are more prestigious.Like being a foreign ambassador or a CEO.


Ryan Lewis April 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I support your point 100%.


teddy ruxpin November 10, 2011 at 4:57 am

Firefighting not competitive? Ever apply to a job where 5000-7000 applicants are fighting for 10-15 positions? Most of which are alpha males, with very similar backgrounds and credentials. problem.


brenna sabov November 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm

will someone answer my question! who knows what the animal breeders prestige is ?
<3 (;


David November 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Like many have said, the makers of the list mixed up “prestigious” with “honorable.” How farmers, teachers, and nurses are considered more prestigious than professional athletes, business executives and bankers is beyond me.

You could make an arguement that the “least prestigious” professions are actually more prestigious than those on the “most prestigious” list.


Most prestigious December 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Lawyers and doctors are the most prestigious – highest levels of education, most powerful, and they make a ton of money while helping people. Everyone wants to be one and only an extremely small percentage have what it takes, the rest become envious brokers, advisors, bankers, yada yada second tier B.A. only types…I’m a financial advisor which is definitely prestigious but then again I didn’t have the grades to get into law school/medical school – still thinking about it though….


kurt January 5, 2012 at 6:50 am

prestige ( ) n. The level of respect at which one is regarded by others; standing. A person’s high standing among others; honor or esteem.

guess your all just illiterate morons. proof that presitige is honor :P


Lineman January 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm

First of most of these jobs are not possible without farming or electrical lineman. Electrical lineman is def one of the most important job in the world…with out them there would be no electricity do do any of those other jobs. They go unnoticed all the time.


Lineman January 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm

what job is possible with out electrical lineman?! with out them there would be no electricity!


Everyone in the Comment Section January 22, 2012 at 3:16 pm

What a crappy list! Clearly the most prestigious job is ! I have to and I only get paid ! Without me, people will !!!

Also, what the hell is doing on here? It isn’t like they do anything other than around all day at a and act like they are better than me! Seriously, any idiot can do , but it take someone with a strong to do .


PATRICK AKATTAH January 27, 2012 at 3:44 am

are chartered certified accountant not prestigeos


Kane January 31, 2012 at 1:20 am

Military OFFICERS? Excuse me?
Officers would not be able to run the Army without NCOs and junior enlisted servicemembers making everything happen. My detachment commander can’t even shoot for Christ’s sake!
In fact, the chief that used to be in charge of my section is one of the most dishonorable men I have ever met. Prestige my ass.


mlondolozi ndlovu February 2, 2012 at 8:04 am

i think the president ,lawyers, journalists ,politicians,teachers, pilots ,scientists ,accountants, economists and miners and farmers are among the ten prestigious professions they are all a country needs.


Ryan February 4, 2012 at 4:08 am

I know a list of prestigious careers are simply people’s opinions, but I still can’t say that this list just seems very wrong. When I was reading this I actually thought that maybe they made a mistake and switched the lists… I get doctors, engineers, and scientists, whom all are very intelligent individuals. But when I think prestigious, some other things that come to mind are things like business executives, bankers, professional athletes, and movie stars, all on the 10 least list. Also I definitely think that lawyers, politicians, pilots, and judges should be in the most prestigious list. Prestigious careers in my opinion have to do with the impressiveness or societal praise it receives, usually due to the extensiveness of education or extraordinary talent of an individual that sets them apart from others, not just how vital a job is to everyday life. You can argue that almost any job is extremely important, but few are prestigious. That’s just my opinion.


dissapointing February 18, 2012 at 11:01 am

Its not the level of schooling that this list is based on, its the level of their contributions on a daily basis to society, the top three would be firefighter, doctor, and farmer. Every other job feeds upon the corruption within this disgusting world, for example lawyers, cops, and military officers hold a high standing withing their certain departments, however lawyers are who’s separating families from their children, cops can be easily corrupt and judgemental, and military officers are white collar office men who talk about the blue collar kids in the infantry (and I mean kids.).


David February 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

To kurt, you can interpret that dictionary definition in many ways. But, do you honestly think your local middle school teachers hold more prestigious jobs than Donald Trump or Kobe Bryant?


Freedom February 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm

The most important job in America is that of a Police Officer. All of the other jobs mentioned are important and provide a contribution to society, but the law enforcement officer must maintain order in our society and enforce the laws. Without order and preserving the peace in America, Anarchy would exist and our freedom would be lost. If law enforcement officers over react in a situation they can deprive us of our constitutional rights. On the other hand, split second decisions that are made can mean the difference between life and death. Even though they have the most important and difficult job in America, they are grossly underpaid. This may not be the most prestigious job, but it is the most important. Where are our priorities?


stan March 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I don’t understand how accountants are classified in the least prestigious jobs.


people people people March 12, 2012 at 10:42 am

Ok everyone prestige is in the eyes of the beholder they don’t work in every field so they don’t know what that job does. Therefor they rank things they believe prestigious above what you think is.


reply March 13, 2012 at 11:40 am

Lawyers are trash. Busnessmen are uneducated and doctors are overpaid. A fireman now that takes a man!!!

If you took all the lawyers away. Do the cops still do their job? YES. Is the law still uphelp by law enforcement? YES.

If you take away most docotors does life go on? YES.

If you take away the engineers the lights go off, the machines stop running, the internet is gone, planes don’t fly, boats don’t travel to name a few things. We live like cavemen!!! So tell me besides civil service (fireman, police, army) what is needed more? An engineer.

The way I see it cicil service then engineers.


Shar March 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Doctors are overpaid?! Hahaha…you must not know anything about the medical field, nor understand the education, dedication and lack of money doctors make for many years before actually making a decent living!


Jack April 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

You should probably define what prestigious means.


jamie April 25, 2012 at 11:49 am

Prestigious occupations are jobs that involve notoriety, good pay, and a decent amount of power to shape the world around them. This list is a joke because the people who were surveyed obviously had no clue what prestige means.
A teacher and farmer may be honorable jobs but they are far from prestigious. Being an engineer may pay well but again depending on whether the engineer’s focus is on invention or sewage pipelines also makes a difference on prestige. Again I am not saying these are bad jobs they simply are not prestigious jobs. However, Doctors, lawyers, astronauts, CEO’s, celebrities, and politicians are prestigious professions. I can see military and firefighters staying on the list because they are often considered heroes, and although they are not rich, they often have a certain level of power whether its their community,their country, or the world. Although I may not personally be interested in spectator sports only an idiot would think there is no prestige for professional atheletes . Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up and you are more likely to find out what the most prestigious jobs are.

The sociologist who took these surveys should have done a better job!


Josh May 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

It’s been fairly disgusting to read many of these remarks. I would think that Americans would consider lawyers, actors, professional athletes, and pilots to be prestigious. What is so sad is what we consider to be prestigious. A lawyer prestigious? I would not consider a 3-year law degree and a career of lying, manipulating, paper-jockeying, a blatant diregard for integrity as a prestigious career. Look at why the vast majority of young students want to become doctors: to bring home a large paycheck. Where’s prestige in that? Professional athletes who are given more chances on the job (rapes, prison time, drug use) than a McDonalds employee are prestigious? I worked side by side with pilots for ten years in the airline industry. I’ve never seen a larger group of individuals that treat those around them like dirt. Glorified plane jockies. The irony is that I have all the room in the world to consider my career prestigious. But, I feel it would be a shame to consider it so. Three years into medical school and I have never seen so many pampered kids who have no idea what sacrifice means. Its sad. Prestige should include integrity, honesty, sacrifice, selflessness… but, then again, a fat paycheck and some (overrated) education makes up for all that, right?


Berkeley Engineer June 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

How do you define Prestige?


M July 27, 2012 at 10:08 am

It would be cool if this list was true, but some parts seem faulty to me. Whenever I tell anyone I’m getting into education, I’m met with a look of disdain and/or pity. On the other hand, Americans drool over athletes.


Anonymous August 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

The last time I checked, buses or taxis didn’t seem to be configured with multi-million dollar turbines.
To say an airline pilot is just a glorified taxi/bus driver is just a display of true ignorance. Its prestige, due the fact of having one of the greatest responsibilities alongside another pilot.


nobody important September 11, 2012 at 8:46 am

Prestige is defined by wealth, social status, and power. The list is backwards … Nothing against your local police officer or teacher because these jobs are probably more important thatn actors and athletes but in no way more “prestigious”.


B October 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I think cashier is a very prestigious important job not just anyone can do. If no ones getting ringed up then theres no stores and no economy.


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