If you had to pick one profession that epitomizes honesty and high ethics, which would you choose?
According to Gallup, the nursing profession is at the top of the list, with 84 percent of people in a recent survey ranking it as very high to high on the ethics/honesty scale.
At the other end of the spectrum, car salespeople, lobbyists and, wait for it, members of Congress were at the bottom of the list of 21 professions studied.
Nurses have stayed at the top of the list for five years. Pharmacists and doctors have gradually improved their standing while police officers have gradually declined. Still, police officers, along with teachers and clergy, were still seen as being trustworthy by at least 50 percent of those surveyed.
Only funeral directors and accountants were the next closest to the 50 percent mark with both seen as being trustworthy by 44 percent and 43 percent of respondents, respectively.
None of the following managed to get more than 26 percent of respondents to see them as ethical or honest: building contractors, bankers and, alas, journalists.
According a Motley Fool expert, professions at the bottom of the list suffer from the perception that their incentives often are not aligned with the interests of their customers, the people they represent or stakeholders.
While lawyers more often than not get a bad rap, they still managed to come out better than business executives, labor union leaders, stockbrokers, ad execs and telemarketers. The perceptions of bankers, lawyers and business executives also improved, even though only 25 percent or fewer saw those professions as ethical or honest.
The poll of 1,012 adults was conducted Nov. 28 through Dec. 1 and has a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percentage points.