Stock Brokers Less Prestigious than Firefighters

Money doesn't seem to equal "prestige" in the eyes of Americans.

A Harris Poll that measures public perceptions of the prestige of 23 professions and occupations found that finance-related jobs, including stock brokers, were at the bottom of the list. Occupations in science, public service, and education ranked higher.

According to the results from Harris Interactive, the most prestigious occupations this year were:

  • firefighters (62% said “very great prestige”)
  • scientists (57%)
  • doctors (56%)
  • nurses (54%)
  • teachers (51%)
  • military officers (51%).

On the other end of the list, fewer adults regarded the following occupations as having very great prestige:

  • real estate agent/broker (5%)
  • accountant (11%)
  • stock broker (13%)
  • actor (15%)
  • banker (16%).

Stock brokers were rated to have “hardly any prestige at all” by 31% of surveyed Americans. However, 43% said stock brokers have “some prestige” and 11% said they have “considerable prestige.” Thirteen percent would even say “great prestige”—up from 10% last year and a low of 8% in 2003 when it was first tracked.

Perhaps it depends how one defines prestige. “Prestige” is defined by Merriam-Webster as meaning “standing or estimation in the eyes of people” or “commanding position in people’s minds.”

Though the jobs have changed, Harris has been conducting the poll since 1977. Looking back at the data over the years, Harris said one thing remains the same, especially in the last two decades: The professions at the top of the list considered to have the highest prestige are not high-paying jobs (e.g. firefighters and teachers), while those at the bottom might have fame and wealth attached to them (e.g. entertainers and stock brokers).

Stock brokers can rest assured that at least they have more prestige than accountants and real estate agents.

Harris Interactive conducted the poll by telephone between July 7 and 14, among 1,010 U.S. adults. However, only about half of those adults were asked about each occupation.