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This Is How America Feels About Various Professions

“What line of work are you in?” Chances are you’ve heard some variation of this question when attending a high school reunion, a wedding reception, a holiday party, a family dinner, or in a dozen other potential scenarios.

Depending on how you earn your paycheck, you might feel quite comfortable giving the answer, or you might wish you could change the topic of conversation. Quickly. A recent Gallup survey asked Americans to rate professions based on honesty and ethics, and the following are the jobs that were rated as some of the least ethical, and sleaziest, by respondents.


Only about a quarter (27%) of Americans give bankers high grades for honesty; approximately 50% say banking professionals are just average.

Photo: Shutterstock/goodluz

Real Estate Agents

It seems as if most Americans don’t have strong feelings about real estate agents one way or the other. Fifty-four percent of people give real estate agents average reviews for ethics and honesty, while a quarter give them high or very high marks.

Photo: Pixabay/Nicajo

Labor Union Leaders

In 1983, more than 20% of American workers belonged to labor unions; recently, the Labor Department reported that union membership has fallen below 11%. Union leaders aren’t highly regarded: according to Gallup, 31% of people give them low marks for honesty; 42% rate them just average.


A mere 19% of Americans rate lawyers high or very high for ethics, and more than 51% say the level of honesty in the legal profession is just average. Although being a lawyer can cost you in terms of establishing a good reputation, the legal profession pays well:  The median salary for an attorney is $119,250.

Photo: pxhere

Business Executives

Corporate leaders reel in the accolades when their companies are doing well, but their reputations tend to suffer when losses and layoffs occur. About 32% of Gallup survey respondents rated executives low or very low when it comes to ethical standards; only about 17% of those surveyed view them highly.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/M


Americans who rate brokers on the low end for ethics outnumber those who have positive feelings about them by more than two to one (32% to 14%).

Photo: Pexels/fauxels

Advertising Professionals

Truth in advertising? Apparently many Americans aren’t feeling it. Survey respondents were about three times more likely (37% to 13%) to rate advertising professionals in the low or very low range when it comes to honesty and ethics than those who view advertising pros favorably.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


If you’re in the telemarketing business, or thinking of entering the field, don’t expect to feel the love. Simply put, Americans loathe telemarketing and don’t hold those who practice it in very high regard. More than 56% of survey respondents rate telemarketers low or very low for honesty, with a mere 9% viewing them positively.

Photo: Shutterstock/Koshevskyi

Car Sales People

It doesn’t seem like Americans feel that ethics is a driving force for car sales people. Only 8% rate car sales people high or very high for honesty; and a whopping 44% give them low marks.

Members Of Congress

Nearly six in 10 (58%) of Gallup survey respondents feel federal lawmakers have low or very low ethical standards, and only 8% give them high scores for honesty, which is a drop of three points from last year. But being on Capitol Hill does have its rewards: most members of Congress earn about $174,000 a year.