real estate agent
At least this real estate agent is not a car salesman. Image – Canva.
  • Health professionals dominate the top five, as always
  • Real estate agents are towards the bottom
  • Agents only 'highly regarded' by 5% of Australians

After enduring a year like no other, Australians have ranked 30 professions based on ethics and honesty in Roy Morgan’s Image of Professions Survey 2021.

Unsurprisingly, health professions are the most regarded. Historically, doctors and nurses have been thought of as the most ethical and trusted people, and the pandemic has only proven this all over again.

Interestingly, all professions – bar one – are less regarded compared to when the survey was last done four years ago: union leaders actually saw seen an increase in their standing.

Nurses, doctors, pharmacists, school teachers and dentists top the list. This marks the 24th consecutive survey nurses are held in the highest esteem. 88% of Australians holding nurses as ‘highly regarded’.

“Nurses have been front and centre around the world during the last year as we’ve dealt with the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily for local nurses, Australia has dealt exceptionally well with the pandemic and we have largely avoided an out of control situation although many Victorians would fairly argue we came close during the middle of 2020.”

“Once again other professions entrusted with looking after our health are close behind with Doctors on 82% and Pharmacists on 76% filling out the second and third spots overall – although all three leaders have declined from four years ago.”

Michelle Levine, Roy Morgan CEO

Who’s at the bottom?

Well, the findings aren’t great for real estate agents.

While lawyers, bank managers, journalists and reporters are ranked in the middle, insurance brokers, real estate agents, advertising people and car salesmen make the bottom four.

According to Ms Levine, these four are a “familiar bunch”. This is the fourth straight survey in a row where these professions have taken these bottom place positions.

The findings also mean federal and state MPs are held in higher regard than real estate agents – only 7% and 5% of Australians hold these professions in high regard respectively. Compared to the last survey, real estate agents fell by 2%.

The biggest fall has been the police force – only 51% of Australians rank law enforcement highly for ethics and honesty, compared to 75% in 2017. Quite a fall from grace. This ranking has been perhaps skewed by Victoria where issues such as the enforcement of COVID-19 related laws and the high profile ‘Lawyer X’ case were raised by respondents as influencing their decision.

Roy Morgan survey
Source: Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey 2021

One might take all this with a grain of salt.

Surveys asking people to rank generic professions usually bring out the tired old stereotypes. When selling real estate, no one is forced to use an agent, yet in the vast majority of cases when selling property, owners employ one. When asked, most sellers (sometimes more than 85%) say they were perfectly happy with their agent, and would happily use them again.

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