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Prestigious Jobs

According to CNN and, U.S. adults, according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive, see firefighters, scientists and teachers as the most prestigious occupations while bankers, actors and real estate agents are the least prestigious occupations.

Five other occupations were ranked as having “very great prestige” by over 50 percent of the adults surveyed: Scientists and teachers are considered very prestigious by 54 percent of adults, followed by doctors and military officers, who earn the prestige of 52 percent of Americans, and nurses, whom half of all adults consider very prestigious.

Among the least prestigious occupations are real estate brokers, actors and bankers. Only 5 percent of survey participants ranked real estate brokers as very prestigious; 9 percent gave actors this label, followed by 10 percent for bankers.

Accountants, entertainers, stockbrokers, union leaders, journalists, business executives and athletes all also ranked low on the list: Less than 20 percent of adults consider any of the aforementioned occupations to have “very great prestige.”

Consequently, five occupations are perceived to have “hardly any prestige at all” by at least a quarter of adults: stockbrokers (25 percent), union leaders (30 percent), entertainers (31 percent), real estate brokers (34 percent) and actors (38 percent).

Harris Interactive started conducting its “Most Prestigious Careers” survey in 1977 and included only 11 professions. The most significant change since the survey’s inception is that, with the exception of teachers and clergy, the perceived prestige of every one of the original 11 occupations has actually decreased over the years.

The most drastic drop occurred among scientists, lawyers and athletes, whose prestige dropped by 12 points, 14 points and 10 points, respectively. Clergy members are considered prestigious by a percentage point more of the population than they were 30 years ago, while teachers’ perceived prestige increased by 25 percent.

Future Job Growth

According to the US Department of Labor

Education and health services. This industry supersector is projected to grow faster, 30.6 percent. 3 out of every 10 new jobs created in the U.S. economy will be in either the healthcare and social assistance or private educational services sectors.

Healthcare and social assistance—(including private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and individual and family services)—will grow by 30.3 percent and add 4.3 million new jobs.

Professional and business services. This industry supersector, which includes some of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy, will grow by 27.8 percent and add more than 4.5 million new jobs.

Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services will grow by 31 percent and add 2.5 million new jobs to the economy by 2014.

Professional, scientific, and technical services will grow by 28.4 percent and add 1.9 million new jobs by 2014. Employment in computer systems design and related services will grow by 39.5 percent and add almost one-fourth of all new jobs in professional, scientific, and technical services. spurred by the increased use of new technology and computer software and the growing complexity of business.

Leisure and hospitality. Overall employment will grow by 17.7 percent. Arts, entertainment, and recreation will grow by 25 percent and add 460,000 new jobs by 2014.

Trade, transportation, and utilities. Overall employment in this industry supersector will grow by 10.3 percent between 2004 and 2014.

Retail trade is expected to increase by 11 percent, from 15 million to 16.7 million.

Financial activities. Employment is projected to grow 10.5 percent over the 2004-14 period. Real estate and rental and leasing is expected to grow by 16,9 percent and add 353,000 jobs by 2014.

Finance and insurance is expected to increase by 496,000 jobs, or 8.3 percent, by 2014.

Government. Between 2004 and 2014, government employment, including that in public education and hospitals, is expected to increase by 10 percent, from 21.6 million to 23.8 million jobs.

Goods-producing industries. Employment in the goods-producing industries has been relatively stagnant since the early 1980s.

The Most Satisfying Jobs

Firefighters, the clergy and others with professional jobs that involve helping or serving people are more satisfied with their work and overall are happier than those in other professions.

Here are the Top 10 most gratifying jobs and the percentage of subjects who said they were very satisfied with the job:

  • Clergy—87 percent percent
  • Firefighters—80 percent percent
  • Physical therapists—78 percent percent
  • Authors—74 percent
  • Special education teachers—70 percent
  • Teachers—69 percent
  • Education administrators—68 percent
  • Painters and sculptors—67 percent
  • Psychologists—67 percent
  • Security and financial services salespersons—65 percent
  • Operating engineers—64 percent
  • Office supervisors—61 percent”The most satisfying jobs are mostly professions, especially those involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others and creative pursuits,” Tom W. Smith, of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, said in a statement.

    In a survey of 27,587 people questioned about their work, across all occupations, on average, 47 percent said they were very satisfied with their jobs and 33 percent said they were very happy.


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