Have been working around the world with a major oil multinational the past year and just wanted to spark a discussion on this forum's favorite and overused topic: prestige. In particular, what is considered a "prestigious" profession around the world by the general public.
Usually prestige boils down to this:
Barriers to entry + average remuneration + perceived societal impact
Without further ado, here is my list:
- Medical doctor. This is universally the number 1. While certain markets might have another profession at the top, medical doctor is always in the top 3 and is widely recognizable by the entire population. No other profession in the world will pay you this much for something seen as "charitable/being a good person"
- Engineer. This might prove controversial, but the world mostly consists of third world/emerging countries that are fleshing out their infrastucture/building their country - and engineer is what is pushed by parents as it's consistently one of the best majors for employment. Getting into engineering schools is very tough. Makes sense though, when you're living in a country with 50% unemployment, a major that's as close to a sure-fire bet as possible is very prestigious. In Nigeria rich parents would bribe engineering schools to let their kids in. In Algeria half of the engineering class was full of sons of the ruling civil servants.
It's different in a lot of the West, but engineer still enjoys a solid prestige status - especially in France (where they mostlycome from the "grandes ecoles" - CEO of Credit Suisse is a french engineer), and Germany (a country that really values engineering). Biggest outlier is in the UK, where engineer has next to no prestige. But that's because there are no barriers to entry in GB & "engineer" is applied to your average tradesman.
- Lawyer. In the west, this is closer to #2. However, in many countries aorund the world, the justice system is a farce, which reduces the value of lawyers since whoever has the most money or is more connected wins by default
- Military Officer. Interchangeable with lawyer.
Finance did not crack the top 4. Why? Most countries do not have a developed high finance system & finance is limited to accountants. However, in the countries that do, high financiers are usually in the top in terms of prestige - and in specialized finance cities like NY/London/Hong Kong, high financiers are at the top of the prestige food chain. Just not enough of that worldwide to rank it in the top 4. Same thing with Tech - they're kings in San Francisco, but most countries don't have as elaborate of a tech hub.