Last updated on Jan 13th, 2021 at 05:09 pm

International market research comapny, Synovate, asked 5500 people about the professions they valued (or didn’t) and even which profession they would prefer to marry….. (Source:

We spend a third of our waking hours at work (and sometimes more) and many people define themselves and their worth by what they do. (Being asked what you do for a living is often the first question you get asked when you meet someone new.) So what are people’s gut reactions when you tell them what you do?

Synovate conducted a seven-market survey in October 2008, covering 5,500 respondents in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Malaysia, South Africa and the United States (US). They asked people what makes for an admirable job, which professions they trust (or not), who’s overpaid… Here’s what the findings showed:

Caring careers scored highest

There are many things that make a job admirable… helping others, making lots of money, it might have required years of dedicated study… but respondents were asked to choose just one characteristic that makes a profession the most admirable.

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So who came out tops…?

More than half of respondents chose people helping other people as those in the most admirable professions. Specifically, the top characteristics that make for an admirable job were ‘It helps people with their health’ at 27%, followed by ‘It helps educate people’ at 24%. But there is still room for a good time at work as 14% nominated ‘It is fun’ as something they most admire.

“Trust me, I’m a doctor” holds true for this survey

86% of respondents trust those in the medical profession. Although teachers were top of the class when it comes to trust, with an overall 87% trusting people in the education profession, those in the science and technology fields were also largely trusted (86%) as were homemakers (84%).

Media least trustworthy

But those in the marketing field may be a little disturbed by results showing the professions we do not trust as the single least trusted professional group across the seven markets surveyed was found to be the media profession.

Other professions that may have slightly challenging reputations are retail (59% said they do not trust people in this field) and entertainers like musicians and actors (54%).

Community services like police, fire and ambulance workers are generally well trusted. The highest levels of trust for these services can be found in Canada (93%), France (93%) and US (91%). The perception was that these services help save lives and that most people working in them are motivated by the greater good rather than money.

Who needs to earn more?

If you’re like most people, the answer is you. Whatever you do for a living. Respondents were asked which of the professions under discussion were the most underpaid. The overall poorest professions were perceived to be homemakers (27% said this, which is not a huge surprise given the pay packet!), tradespeople (24%) and educators (14%).

Synovate also asked who was overpaid

26% think that those in corporate jobs are the most overpaid, entertainers (16%) and the legal profession (14%).

Who cares most (and least) about their family’s jobs

The Synovate professions survey also explored how people feel about their own profession, as well as how important it is to partners and parents. An encouraging 82% of respondents reported feeling proud of their profession and 71% don’t care if others admire their profession. Professional pride was as high as 89% in Brazil and at a low in China with 70% reporting feeling proud of what they do.

The Chinese results were attributed to the fact that Chinese workers are continually seeking to better themselves so are not often satisfied with their current position. Cultural differences played a big part in the way countries felt about defining people by what they do for a living. Overall, half agreed (51%), but it was as high as 79% in Malaysia and only 31% in Canada and 29% in the US.

Most Malaysians care what their parents think

Three quarters of all Malaysians say their partner’s profession matters to them and 79% acknowledge that what they do is of the utmost importance to their parents, the highest level of agreement for both statements.
Only 40% of US respondents said that what they did mattered to their parents. This was beleived to be attributed to the fact that the US is a culture that places a high value in people choosing a path that is their own.

We don’t want to marry movie stars

According to Synovate results, you can be voted the sexiest person in the world and still not be marriage material. More respondents would choose to marry tradespeople, lawyers, business people, in fact just about anyone… than actors or musicians.

The Synovate Professions Survey asked people to nominate which professions, out of a given list, they would choose a life partner from. Medicine made for marriage material with 16% nominating doctors and nurses and others in the field as preferred partners, higher than any other single profession. Other popular choices were education (14%) and science and technology (10%).

The most unpopular choices were those in retail (1%); the media, advertising and marketing fields at 2%; and entertainers, actors and musicians at 3%.

For more on the results of the Synovate Professions Survey (and other surveys), go to