The most (and least) popular professions across 17 international markets
April 12th, 2024, Christien Pheby

The most (and least) popular professions across 17 international markets

Stereotypes of various industries abound, and not always consistently: defence lawyers can be purehearted do-gooders in the vein of Atticus Finch – or unashamed crooks like Saul Goodman; educators range from Dumbledore to Trunchbull; bankers largely run a narrower gamut from Ebenezeer Scrooge to Gordon Gekko to Patrick Bateman (writers do not, it seems, much like bankers).

But what do the public actually think of these professions?

A new YouGov study asked the public across 17 different international markets (encompassing Europe, APAC, the Americas and the UAE) whether they have a positive or negative view of people who work in various industries.

On average, healthcare professionals (73%) and educators (70%) are the most popular, with 7 in 10 saying they view employees in these industries favourably. A majority of respondents were positive about people working in tech (66%), law (64%), hospitality (62%), travel (56%), sports (54%), retail (57%) and entertainment (53%).

The public are less positive about people in the automotive (49%), financial (41%), marketing (40%), content creation (33%), gaming (31%), and especially gambling (12%) industries. Gambling is particularly notable as the only industry among those we listed where a majority of consumers are negatively disposed (54%).

Regional breakdown: Which industries are most and least popular in each region? 

There are some notable differences in popularity depending on the region. In APAC, for example, consumers are more favourably disposed towards almost every profession (gambling, where 13% are favourable compared to 12% across all markets, is a lone exception). The most pronounced differences are in video gaming (47% vs. 31% across all markets), content creation (48% vs. 33%), financial services (54% vs. 41%), and sales & marketing (51% vs. 40%).

Americans are more likely than the international average in this study to look positively on professionals working in the automotive (47% vs. 48%), finance (43% vs. 41%), sales & marketing (47% vs. 40%), content creation (36% vs. 33%), and gambling (15% vs. 12%) industries. Industries they are less positive about include tech (61% vs. 66%), hospitality (56% vs. 62%), sports (43% vs. 54%), travel (49% vs. 56%), law (46% vs. 64%), retail (52% vs. 57%) and entertainment (47% vs. 53%).

It's a similar story with Europeans, who are less positive about every industry than the average. The differences are particularly pronounced with sales and marketing (29% vs. 40% on average), content creation (21% vs. 33%), law (46% vs. 64%), and auto (38% vs. 48%). By stark contrast, looking at consumers in the UAE paints a picture whether consumers are broadly more favourable about professionals in each industry we polled.  This is true of the most popular industries (80% of UAE respondents said they had a positive view of healthcare professionals compared to 73% on average; the figure is 83% vs. 70% for education and 81% vs. 66% for technology). It’s also true of the least popular: 21% of UAE respondents have a favourable view of people in the gambling industry compared to 12% of the average, and 55% have a positive opinion of content creators compared to 33% of the average.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 500 and 2040 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in January 2024. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.