10 Professions With Terrible Reputations for Ripping People Off

Not every job is well respected, even if it pays the bills, and some professions are really mistrusted.
Updated April 3, 2023
three young designers using a laptop together at work

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When people choose a career path, public perception of professions isn’t always taken into account. Top of mind tends to be pay, benefits, and job satisfaction. But there are careers out there people simply don’t trust, putting a pin in the phrase “honest work.” 

Trust is down to a single digit for several professions, according to a Gallup survey rating “high” or “very high” honesty and ethics in various careers.

Here are 10 professions that earn surprisingly low marks for honesty and trust.

Police officers

dechevm/Adobe heavy armed police officers

Police work is dangerous, stressful, and demanding with round-the-clock shifts being part of the norm. Ideally, the police keep people safe and keep the criminal elements of society at bay. 

While not at the bottom of the list, public trust in the policing profession has been eroding for years. Just over half of Americans, 53%, give them high marks.

Median annual salary: $66,020

Projected job growth: 3%


oneinchpunch/Adobe priest reading and praying in the church

Clergy run the show at houses of worship. They conduct services and other spiritual functions for congregations of believers in various religions and faiths. 

They’re also sometimes called upon for moral guidance, but surprisingly, they aren’t trusted by the majority of Americans, clocking in at just 36% of Americans giving them high marks for honesty.

Median annual salary: $49,720

Projected job growth: 4%


Svitlana/Adobe TV reporter presenting the news outdoors

A journalist’s or reporter’s entire career revolves around making sure the public is aware of current events and other important information. For that to work as intended, people need to view them as trustworthy. But that’s just not the case. 

Only 14% of the public rated TV reporters as highly honest, with print journalists slightly better regarded at 17%.

Median annual salary: $48,370

Projected job growth: -9%


bnenin/Adobe banker checking the insurance policy of his client

Banking covers a vast swath of financial service employment. It’s everything from tellers (who have a median annual salary of $36,310), to loan officers ($63,380 per year) and financial analysts ($95,570 a year median pay). 

The number of jobs under the “banking” umbrella doesn’t change the fact that only 27% of Americans trust the profession.

Median annual salary: Varies by specific occupation.

Projected job growth: Varies by specific occupation.


LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe judge holding eyeglasses listens to prosecutor standing near attorney

You don’t need to be a legal eagle to see this one coming. Lawyers advise and represent their clients — individuals, businesses, and government — on all forms of legal matters that affect their success, their freedoms, and their wealth. 

Nonetheless, less than a quarter of Americans trust them: 19%.

Median annual salary: $127,990

Projected job growth: 10%

Business executives

Monkey Business/Adobe businesspeople having board meeting around glass table

Broadly, business executives are the managers who develop strategies to make sure their company or organization hits its goals. 

These executives hold positions in every industry and they’re well compensated. That doesn’t mean people trust them, however. Business execs come in at 15%.

Median annual salary: $179,520 for chief executives; $97,970 for general and operations managers

Projected job growth: 6%


Jacob Lund/Adobe creative professionals discussing new project in meeting

Like any salesman, advertisers work to convince you to buy a product or service, whether you need it — or even want it — or not. Not surprisingly, advertisers are rated pretty low for honesty and trust, with only 11% of Americans giving them credit for it.

Median annual salary: ranges from ca. $50,000 to over $250,000

Projected job growth: 10%

Members of Congress

pressmaster/Adobe male member of congress expressing his opinion

Regardless of the party or chamber a politician is a part of, members of Congress are near the bottom of the barrel as far as American trust goes, with only 9% of Americans giving them high marks for honesty and trustworthiness.

Median annual salary: $174,000 for senators and representatives

Projected job growth: Not applicable. Every state has two senators. The number of representatives per state is decided by population.

Automobile salespeople

Nebojsa/Adobe managers in elegant suit looking on camera

Car salesmen are, by now, a caricature of the dishonest salesman. Indeed, only 8% of the public gives them “high” or “very high” marks in honesty and ethics. However, they're no longer at the very bottom of the list.

Median hourly wage/median annual salary: $18.06 an hour per BLS; $41,539 a year per Payscale. They do take a hefty commission from every vehicle sold, however.

Projected job growth: Not provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Political Lobbyists

Microgen/Adobe businessman in suit ready to read on stage

Drumroll, please: The least trusted job in America is … lobbyist. If members of Congress get low marks for honesty, those whose job it is to tell them what to think get even lower marks: only 5% of Americans rank them highly for honesty and trustworthiness.

Median annual salary: $78,600

Bottom line

NDABCREATIVITY/Adobe architects working on project in office

As the saying goes, it’s a living — even if the public doesn’t trust it.

But there are professions that are highly trusted by Americans and don’t cause additional financial stress, and one, in particular, stands out: Nurses are at the top of the list with 81% of the public ranking them highly for honesty and trust. 

In fact, nurses are far and away more trusted than second-place pick medical doctors, who come in at 67%.

Not every profession is well respected, but if it’s what you love, enjoy it. You’ll just have to get used to others’ initial reactions when you answer that question: “What do you do?”

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Author Details

Will Vitka Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.

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