Have you noticed when people speak of prestigious occupations they usually list them in the order of Doctor-Lawyer-Teacher? Well it’s time to change that often quoted reference according to a recently released survey of more than 1200 adults.

Every year the Harris organization conducts a poll of the occupations with highest (and lowest) prestige in America. With the seemingly deteriorating respect for teachers and the teaching profession, one would expect that doctors and lawyers would command a much higher level of prestige, or that celebrity-obsessed Americans would hold entertainers, athletes, and actors in high regard. Incredible as it may seem, none of those apparent “high profile” occupations hold the same stature as that of teacher.

Only one profession has steadily gained prestige since 1977, and that is the teaching profession. Only 29% of respondents in 1977 (28% in 1982) thought that teaching was a highly prestigious profession compared to a respectful increase of 54% in 2007. The largest decline since Harris began conducting these surveys was with lawyers. In 1977 36% of people ranked lawyer as a high prestige job, but by 2007, only 22% agreed with that assessment.

Teachers and administrators are truly the backbone of our society today and the hope of our future

What is most significant is the data seems to support the notion that Americans consider professions that help others to be the highest prestige professions. Without regard to fame or money, teachers and administrators are truly the backbone of our society today and the hope of our future. Educators can proudly hold their heads high knowing that they are making an impact on the hearts and minds of children everyday.