Lawyers? Greedy and dishonest.
Firefighters? Brave men saving cats from trees.
Teachers? Helpful and caring.
It’s a question as old as time: what do you want to be when you grow up?
And unless they want to be a Superman or a princess, kids tend to stick to a few popular choices. Doctors, teachers, and firefighters come to mind. That’s because some jobs come with a positive built-in reputation. But not all jobs are equally loved.
One person’s dream job can be society’s worst nightmare.
Think about it for a second.
What associations do you have with nurses? What pops into your mind when you think of telemarketers?
Some careers are held in high esteem. Others are treated with contempt. And while many jobs have a reputation that precedes them, do they deserve it?
In this article, we’ll delve into this question: what makes a job loved or hated by society? Is it the pay? The prestige? The stereotypes?
Our key findings are thought-provoking.
- The more wealthy you are, the more likely you are to love doctors.
- Respondents without a college degree hate the thought of becoming waitpersons. But the worst career path for people with a master’s degree is being a nurse.
- The most significant factor behind people hating certain professions is their lack of value for society. But the key factor behind why the job is loved is its potential to help others.
- 68% of respondents believed having a socially hated job has advantages. Conversely, 88% of respondents say there are some disadvantages of having a socially loved job.
- And 77% believe judging someone based on their profession is acceptable.
But there’s more. So lace up your sneakers, and let’s go on a journey to discover the truth behind these professions, sifting through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Job ranking: From Politicians to Doctors and Teachers
I know you can’t wait to delve into the ranking of the most disliked and loved professions. But before we proceed to the final figures, here’s a brief explanation of our method.
We presented our respondents with a list of professions, raising good or bad associations and those perceived as neutral. For each job, we asked them to specify sentiments on a five-point scale, from very positive to very negative. In compiling the list, we took into account very positive and positive feelings toward the profession and arranged them in descending order.
Check it out.
Ladies and gentlemen, here it is. America’s 2023 job ranking of most hated and loved occupations. We start with the most disliked jobs, moving to the most loved ones.
- Politicians – 57%
- Insurance brokers – 59%
- Priests, influencers, guns/arms sellers – 64%
- Waiters/waitresses & used car salespeople – 65%
- Telemarketers, tax examiners & cleaners – 66%
- Shop assistants/cashiers & corporate CEOs – 67%
- Lawyers – 68%
- Slaughterhouse workers & clerks – 69%
- Car mechanics, psychotherapists, journalists, babysitters, firefighters & police officers – 70%
- Nurses – 71%
- Dentists – 72%
- Doctors & teachers – 74%
Let’s take a closer look at our losers.
The booby prize for the most hated profession goes to politicians, with only 57% positive sentiment, followed by insurance brokers, with 59%. In joint third place come priests, influencers, and gun/arms sellers, with 64%.
Why exactly are these professions considered the worst? They share an element of controversy. Aspects of the job that trigger negative feelings. And in the case of priests and influencers, there could be the perception that it’s not “real” work. On top of that, there are negative stereotypes (insurance brokers being aggressive sellers) or ethical issues (selling guns).
But bad attitudes towards particular professions aren’t universal, and some demographic differences also arise.
- Independent-leaning respondents hate politicians most, with 19% negative sentiment, compared to 6% for Democrats. Also, those without a college degree dislike politicians twice as much as (master’s degree holders 17% vs. 8% negative sentiment, respectively.
- Republicans and independents are less fond of priests, having more negative attitudes 16% and 14%, respectively, compared to Democrats, 5%.
- Doctors are disliked almost three times more by those aged 26–40 than those 25 or younger, 11% vs. 3%.
- Babysitters are most hated by those earning $25,000 or less (15%), compared to those earning $50,000–75,000 or more (4%).
- People with no college degree dislike tax examiners more than master’s degree holders, 15% vs. 5%.
- Corporate CEOs are almost three times more hated by low earners (less than $49,999 a year) compared to higher earners ($50,000–$75,000 yearly and more), 13% vs. 5%.
Now let’s focus on the winners of the most loved jobs title.
Doctors and teachers took joint first place, scoring 74%. Dentists followed in second place, winning 72%, followed by nurses, 71%.
As you can see, the ranking is dominated by healthcare. Stereotypes reinforced in pop culture work for this. Just take a look at TV shows. Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor, House M.D., or Private Practice are just a few of some shows presenting healthcare professionals as heroes.
Not to mention the pandemic, which bought medical professionals to the fore as saviors of society.
These are highly respected jobs and, without any doubt, are helpful and socially meaningful. Can we imagine a world without influencers?? Yes. But we can’t imagine life without healthcare professionals.
There are also some fascinating splits in opinions depending on demographic:
- Doctors and teachers are the most loved profession according to both women and men. But while women share the same sentiment for both occupations (71%), men tend to love teachers more than doctors (78% vs. 77%).
- Those earning $75,000 or more value doctors the most, 83%.
- Telemarketers are most valued by people aged 25 or younger, 78%, compared to 26–40 years old and 41 or older, 66% and 63%, respectively. Could it be that the youngest has some practical experience with the profession?
Looking at both sides of the ranking, a few areas to compare socially loved and hated jobs come to mind.
- Wages: Money doesn’t determine whether a profession is hated or loved. Both politicians and doctors earn a lot of money, around $200,000 yearly, while teachers’ average salary is somewhere between $60,000–70,000.
- Education: Doctors, dentists, and teachers are highly educated people. And the same goes for politicians. But education may play its role here, as some of the most hated professions, such as influencer, arms seller, waitperson, or telemarketer, do not require higher education.
- Low prestige: A factor differentiating bad and good jobs. As a rule of thumb, professions ranked as loved are more respected and enjoy a better reputation than those disliked.
- Stereotypes: Loved professions have positive stereotypes. But on the other hand, when’s the last time you heard something positive said about politicians, used car salespeople, or tax examiners?
Next, we’ll explore which jobs people would love to have and which they’d prefer to avoid.
Insurance broking is the most hated career path while teaching the most loved
In the world of work, some jobs have a permanent halo over their heads. From doctors to teachers and firefighters, these careers are noble and respected. After all, everyone wants to be like Dr. House, Professor Dumbledore, or Fireman Sam.
On the other side of the barricade, some jobs seem to attract a permanent cloud of negativity. These careers might be low paying or physically demanding but certainly carry a negative public perception. From telemarketers to cleaners, these jobs are often considered less desirable.
Let’s take a closer look and check which jobs are unacceptable to accept.
Let’s start with the jobs that people don’t want. The clear winners are as follows:
- Insurance broker
- Influencer & waiter/waitress
- Telemarketer & gun/arms seller
- Car mechanic
More than before, it’s about money here. Only influencers and only those really successful in their field can be considered high earners. But prestige and stereotypes appear again. None of these are professions we’d regard as the most respected.
Now let’s take a look at demographic differences.
- Gender: Most women would hate to be insurance brokers, while men can’t imagine themselves as waiters.
- Political affiliation: Democrats couldn’t stand a career as insurance brokers. Republicans wouldn’t accept being influencers, while independents don’t want to be gun sellers.
- Education: Most respondents without a college degree hate the thought of becoming waitpersons, while bachelor’s degree holders avoid insurance services. Being a nurse is the worst career path for master’s degree holders.
Let’s dig deeper. Our respondents revealed what exactly discourages people from pursuing a specific career.
- Working with customers
- Lack of social trust
- Ethical issues
- Lack of value for society
- Job considered as “deceptive”
- Low prestige
- Disturbing tasks
- Negative stereotypes,
So it’s not all about stereotypes, after all? We’ve all heard horror stories of entitled clients, so it’s no surprise working with customers tops the list. Then, in second and third place, we have a lack of trust towards the representatives of a given profession and ethical issues. Being considered untrustworthy and unethical is a powerful demotivator.
Now we know who people don’t want to be, let’s examine what careers are most desirable.
- Lawyer & journalist
What all of the above jobs have in common is helping others. Teachers, doctors, or nurses do it the obvious way. Even journalists, by highlighting difficult stories and cases, bring hope for change. Lawyers, those on your side at least, fight in your favor.
The professional duties of these jobs are meaningful and generally have a positive impact on society. Again, money does not rule the world, as teachers or nurses (and often journalists) aren’t exactly on the gravy train.
And once again, look at the differences between various social groups.
- Gender: The perfect career, according to women, is becoming a doctor, while men aim to be teachers.
- Political affiliation: Republicans prefer teaching careers, while Democrats and independent-leaning choose healthcare.
- Education: Master’s degree holders and respondents with no higher education would love to become doctors, while bachelor’s degree holders see themselves as teachers.
Here, the factors that make these jobs desirable are obvious. It’s prestige, respect, and socially meaningful job duties.
Have you noticed that in the case of beloved professions in the demographic split, only doctors and teachers appear? What makes them so loved? We’ve explored that too.
Why are jobs loved or hated?
From being referred to as the “black sheep” of the workforce to being labeled as “soul-sucking,” certain professions have a reputation that precedes them.
But it’s not as if this hatred doesn’t have its reasons. Here are the top reasons people hate certain jobs.
- Lack of value for society
- Job considered as “deceptive”
- Ethical issues
- Working with customers
- Lack of social trust
- Low prestige
- Unpleasant tasks
- Negative stereotypes
- Negative experiences with representatives of the profession,
Lack of value for society, jobs seen as deceptive, and ethical issues topped the list proving that hatred comes from meaningless work tasks, lack of trust, and work standards. Negative experiences people have when encountering representatives of certain jobs matter the least.
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. The above infographic also showcases some key factors that make certain professions beloved.
- Helping others
- High earnings
- Positive stereotypes
- Meaningful job duties
- Positive impact and value to society
- High prestige
- Risks that the job involves
Jobs that involve helping others and responsibility tend to receive a high level of respect from society. That’s why careers associated with these values, such as doctors, nurses, and teachers, are typically considered admired. High earnings also appear on the podium as an indicator of success and financial stability.
This takes us to the next points of consideration. The pros and cons of having a loved or hated job.
69% see the pros of hated jobs, and 84% see the cons of loved ones
The pros of hated jobs and cons of loved jobs sound like a paradox. What disadvantages could socially admired professions, usually characterized by respect, prestige, and good salary, have? Conversely, how could bad jobs have any advantages?
But as the saying goes, there are two sides to every story. Let’s take a closer look at two dimensions of some occupations and see if there’s more to them than meets the eye.
69% of respondents see the pros of having a socially hated job.
While some might view certain careers as “less desirable,” they can actually have hidden benefits. And among these, we find:
- Lower job liability
- Less competition
- Higher job security
- Professional satisfaction
- Usually typical 9 am–5 pm job
- Chance to challenge stereotypes
- Non-toxic work environment
Lower job liability was highlighted as the most significant advantage. After all, no one wants to take legal or ethical responsibility for mistakes (even accidental ones). Less competition means less risk of layoffs or downsizing, which leads to strictly connected higher job security. All this makes pursuing hated careers beneficial for those who want to avoid the stress and pressure at work and maintain a better work-life balance.
Let’s now reverse our initial question. Are there any cons of socially hated jobs?
Yes, there are.
84% of people believe that there are some cons to having a socially hated job.
As we delve deeper into these stigmatized professions, we uncover drawbacks.
- Stress and burnout
- Health risks
- Limited job opportunities
- Lack of job satisfaction
- Lack of social support
- Lack of respect
- Low socio-economic status
On the other hand, the most loved jobs have disadvantages too.
From firefighters to astronauts, teachers to tech pioneers, many careers stir feelings of respect, admiration, and even envy. But what does it cost to pursue a loved career? Do the benefits make the job worth it?
88% of respondents say there are some cons of having a socially loved job.
Despite being highly respected and coveted, even the most loved jobs come with challenges and drawbacks. These are:
- High liability for errors
- People expect “loved professionals” to do them favors
- Years of education or training
- Risking lives
- Stressful or toxic work environment
- Lack of work-life balance
- Mental burden
Whether it’s the mental burden, high stress, or a demanding workload, even the most beloved careers have a downside.
But there’s also a big upside.
97% agree there are some pros of having a socially loved job.
The rewards are abundant when you hold a profession that society holds in high regard. But don’t just take our word for it. Our findings uncovered many advantages of being a part of a celebrated team.
- Job satisfaction
- Financial security
- High social prestige
- Feeling pride
- Social gratitude
- Many career opportunities
- Recognition and respect
- Sense of acceptance
Having a socially loved job has advantages beyond job satisfaction. It brings financial stability, social prestige, and a sense of pride. It also opens up a world of career opportunities. Simply put, a respected profession can offer a fulfilling and prosperous life, enhancing one’s overall quality of life.
But life is not glitter and gold. Let’s now explore summarizing opinions on some careers.
77% believe it’s okay to judge someone based on their job
As we delve deeper into the psyche of job perceptions, it’s time to uncover the overlooked effects of societal biases on one’s career choices and self-esteem. In the final part of the survey, we present a thought-provoking examination of the interplay between personal feelings, passions, and societal perceptions.
- 8 in 10 respondents (82%) believe that having a socially hated job is a reason to feel ashamed.
Unfortunately, that’s a real-life problem. Many don’t want to admit what kind of work they do if it’s not respected, valued, or brings low wages. They are simply ashamed of their career path. But we have something to cheer them up.
Many studies have proved that having a bad job is better than being unemployed. A bad job still has a less negative impact on a person’s happiness than being unemployed.
- 8 in 10 respondents (83%) admit that having a socially loved job is a reason for some to feel superior to others.
It’s tempting for some individuals to feel superior based on the social prestige of their job. Being proud of one’s work and accomplishments is one thing, but using a job title to elevate oneself above others is not a healthy or respectful attitude.
- Almost 8 in 10 survey takers (77%) believe judging someone based on their profession is acceptable.
It’s concerning to see that a significant portion of the survey takers believes it’s acceptable to judge someone based on their profession. Occupation is just one aspect of a person’s identity and doesn’t define their worth. People should be valued for their unique qualities and characteristics rather than their profession.
- Nearly 8 in 10 people (79%) think an individual’s passion for their job can outweigh the societal perception of it.
It’s inspiring to see that most people believe in the power of personal passion when choosing and pursuing a career. It proves that people value the significance of a job that brings meaning and purpose to one’s life rather than just prioritizing a profession with high social prestige or earnings.
- 8 in 10 survey takers (81%) say that a person can be proud of their job regardless of whether it’s loved and respected.
This perspective encourages a more authentic and fulfilling approach to career development, prioritizing self-discovery and individual happiness over societal biases. No one can stop you from being proud of your profession.
- 75% of respondents consider their jobs socially loved, 19% neutral, and only 6% hated.
Most respondents said they have a socially loved job. And this might suggest they have high job satisfaction. However, the most interesting conclusion here is that labeling jobs as neutral may indicate that some people don’t place as much importance on societal perception. In contrast, those who consider their jobs as hated may face more challenges in their career journey.
The findings presented were obtained by surveying 993 American respondents. They were asked questions about their attitude to various jobs and professions. These included yes/no questions, scale-based questions relating to levels of agreement with a statement, questions that permitted the selection of multiple options from a list of potential answers, and questions that permitted open responses. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question.
The data we are presenting relies on self-reports from respondents. Each person who took our survey read and responded to each question without any research administration or interference. We acknowledge potential issues with self-reported data, like selective memory, telescoping, attribution, or exaggeration.
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- Layard, R., “Good Jobs and Bad Jobs”
- Smith, M., “Scientists and doctors are the most respected professions worldwide”
- Werre, R., “I Love My Work…But, I Hate My Job”
- Wong, Ch., “A longitudinal study of the job perception–job satisfaction relationship: A test of the three alternative specifications”
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