The 6 Most (and 6 Least) Trusted Professions in America

Americans have strong feelings about these dozen careers.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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When it comes to choosing a professional, who do you trust? Not everybody, according to a recent poll. 

In a Gallup survey, Americans were asked to rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in various professions. Some professions got top marks for trustworthiness, while other professions didn’t fare as well.

If you are hoping to stop living paycheck to paycheck and are thinking of pursuing a new career path, you might want to check these rankings first.

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1. Most trustworthy: Nurses

Monkey Business/Adobe medical team standing together outside a hospital

Nurses continue to earn the public’s respect. In fact, 79% of adults who answered the poll rated the honesty and ethics of nurses as “very high” or “high,” according to Gallup.

They also get paid well for their work, with a median annual salary of $86,070, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. Most trustworthy: Medical doctors

Halfpoint/Adobe doctors standing in hospital on medical conference

Medical doctors earned a “very high” or “high” ethics and honesty rating from 62% of respondents.

Becoming a physician can be daunting. You need a bachelor’s degree, a medical school degree, and time in an internship or residency program.

However, physicians also make a median annual salary of more than $239,200, with specialists usually earning higher pay.

3. Most trustworthy: Pharmacists

Dragana Gordic/Adobe female pharmacist

Pharmacists give us the medications that keep us well, so it’s no surprise that they earned a “very high” or “high” ethics and honesty rating from 58% of respondents.

Pharmacists work in stores, specialized pharmacies, hospitals, and health care facilities. Their median annual salary is $136,030.

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4. Most trustworthy: High school teachers

Jacob Lund/Adobe high school professor helping student in class

High school teachers play an important role in shaping future generations. 53% of respondents rated them as having “very high” or “high” ethics and honesty.

That number is slightly down from the 60% rating given when the question was asked in 2015 and 2018.

A high school teacher doesn’t make as much as other professions on the list, with a median annual salary of $65,220.

Pro tip: Many lower-paying jobs are very rewarding. Depending on your goals, you may need to earn extra income with a side hustle or second job.

5. Most trustworthy: Police officers

Fractal Pictures/Adobe cops stand near patrol car

Police officers earned a “very high” or “high” ethics and honesty rating from 50% of respondents, but that number is lower than in other years leading up to this 2022 poll.

Police officers and detectives make a median annual income of $74,910 in the U.S.

6. Most trustworthy: Accountants

Andrey Popov/Adobe female accountant

Chances are you only think of an accountant when you're ready to do your tax return. Accountants earned a “very high” or “high” ethics and honesty rating from 41% of respondents.

Accountants make a median annual salary of $79,880.

1. Least trustworthy: Members of Congress

MoiraM/ADOBE MP voting

The most untrustworthy profession? Working as a member of Congress.

Members of the U.S. House and Senate got a “low” or “very low” ethics and honesty ranking from 62% of respondents.

Members of the House and Senate make $174,000 in annual salary, although some members in leadership positions may earn a little more, according to the U.S. Congress.

2. Least trustworthy: Telemarketers

DC Studio/Adobe telemarketers answering client phone call at customer service

Are you sick of getting calls from telemarketers? You’re not the only one who doesn’t like to talk to them. According to Gallup, 59% of respondents gave these workers a “low” or “very low” ethics and honesty ranking.

Telemarketers can expect to make $39,680 in annual wages.

3. Least trustworthy: Car salespeople

Nebojsa/Adobe male customer and female car dealer shaking hands at showroom

People buying cars probably don’t trust the person on the other end of the transaction. 44% of respondents ranked car salespeople as having “very low” or “low” ethics and honesty.

A car salesperson can expect a median annual wage of $59,090, but that number could jump based on commissions they earn from sales.

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4. Least trustworthy: Journalists

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe professional cameraman and journalist

Gallup’s survey found that Americans are skeptical of journalists, with 42% of respondents ranking the profession as “very low” or “low” in ethics and honesty.

Journalists may not be paid as well as other trusted — and not-so-trusted — professions on this list. However, they can expect a median annual salary of $57,500.

5. Least trustworthy: Advertising practitioners

MIND AND I/Adobe advertising designer creative start-up team discussing ideas

If you don’t trust advertisers, you are not alone. Advertising practitioners got a “very low” or “low” ethics and honest rating from 41% of respondents.

But the position pays well, with advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earning a median annual wage of $156,580.

6. Least trustworthy: Business executives

rawpixel.com/Adobe corporate business team

On the other end of the survey, business executives received a “very low” or “low” ethics and honesty ranking from 36% of respondents.

Top business executives can earn $189,520 in median annual wages, according to the BLS.

Bottom line

bnenin/Adobe woman doing job hunting

Check out this list if trustworthiness is an important characteristic in a career you plan to pursue. 

But also remember to weigh other factors, such as what interests you, how much money you can make, and what types of benefits are available. 

Ethics and honesty are important, but so is the chance to boost your bank account. Trustworthiness or public perception is not always in alignment with salary. You'll need to decide what's most important to you.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.