These are the professions Americans think contribute the most (and least) to society

When pitting professions against each another, some may judge how much it informs and brightens someone’s day stacks up against a career that saves lives.

Photo: Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr

How much do our jobs really matter in the grand scheme of society? When pitting professions against each another, we may judge how much a job that informs and brightens someone’s day stacks up against a career that actually saves lives. When we are forced to choose, a new CreditLoan survey of over 1,000 Americans across ages found that we are more likely to value the societal contributions of the latter.

EMTs were most valued, bartenders were least valued

On a 1 to 5 scale, survey participants were asked to weigh and rank how 37 different careers contributed to the overall wellbeing of society, and from there, livelihoods received average scores. In general, participants recognized the value of medicine. When our bodies are in danger, we respect the people who answer the call. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics received the top score with an average of 4.6, and nurses and physicians came in second and third.

But participants were not sympathetic to the listening ear and cold drink that a good bartender can give the world. Out of all the professions that participants could rank, bartending was seen as the career with the least value to society. We also do not value the people nagging after us to collect and audit our income taxes. Tax collectors came in second-to-last. We respect the contributions of the people upholding our society’s basic infrastructures more than people in the corner office. Water treatment plant workers (#13) and trash collectors (#14) far eclipsed the value of CEOs (#30).

Ultimately, if you have one of the jobs in the bottom of this list, recognize that it does not matter how much other people judge the societal merit of your career when you’re the one living it. If you find personal meaning in the path you chose, ignore other people’s criticisms and do not let people define your career’s worth.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
  2. Nurses
  3. Physicians
  4. Firefighters
  5. Teachers
  6. Farmers/ranchers
  7. Scientists
  8. Police officers
  9. Engineers
  10. Military
  11. Social workers
  12. Counselors
  13. Water treatment plant workers
  14. Trash and recycling collectors
  15. Electricians
  16. Lawyers and judges
  17. Construction laborers
  18. Pipeworkers/plumbers
  19. Postal Service mail carriers
  20. Carpenters
  21. Janitors and building cleaners
  22. Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors
  23. Legislators/elected officials
  24. Journalists/reporters
  25. Clergy
  26. Artists
  27. Web developers
  28. Customer service representatives
  29. Transportation security screeners
  30. Chief executives
  31. Waiters and waitresses
  32. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
  33. Recreation and fitness workers
  34. Flight attendants
  35. Athletes, coaches, or umpires
  36. Tax collectors
  37. Bartenders

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.