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Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey 2016: Nurses still easily most highly regarded – followed by Doctors, Pharmacists & Engineers

These are the main findings of a Roy Morgan telephone survey conducted on the nights of May 4-5, 2016, with 655 Australian men and women aged 14 and over.

A very large majority, 92% (unchanged from 2015) of Australians aged 14 and over rate Nurses as the most ethical and honest profession – the 22nd year in a row since Nurses were first included on the survey.

Of all 30 professions surveyed in 2016 a majority (23) increased in regards to ethics and honesty while four professions decreased and only three professions were unchanged.

Other professions that also gained high ratings for ethics and honesty in 2016, included Doctors 86% (up 2%), Pharmacists 86% (up 2%), Engineers 78% (up 4%), School Teachers 77% (down 1%), Dentists 75% (up 4%), Police 72% (up 3% at an all-time high and up from 53% in 1988 & 1989), High Court Judges 71% (up 3%) and State Supreme Court Judges 70% (up 1%).

Amongst the losers in 2016 were Ministers of Religion 35% (down 4%); down from a high of 59% in 1996 when they were first included and now at the lowest they have ever been rated; Bank Managers 30% (down 4%, and down 13% since 2014); the lowest since 2002 (a record low of 29%) and well below their rating in 1988 of 54%; and Union Leaders 13% (down 1%) following last year’s Royal Commission into union corruption.

The biggest gainers in 2016 were University Lecturers 68% (up 7%) and Accountants 51% (up 6%), with other strong gainers including Public Servants 39% (up 4%), Lawyers 35% (up 4%), Directors of Public Companies 26% (up 4%) and, perhaps surprisingly on the eve of a Federal Election, Federal MPs 17% (up 4%). The lowest ranked profession is once again Car Salesmen 4% (unchanged) – a position they have held for over 30 years with the next lowest being Advertising people 9% (up 4%, now the same as 2013) and Real Estate Agents 10% (up 1%).

Gary Morgan, Executive Chairman, Roy Morgan Research says:

“Roy Morgan’s annual Image of Professions survey for 2016 shows a majority of professions (23) recorded increases in their ratings for ‘ethics and honesty’ over the past year although Nurses 92% (unchanged from 2015) have retained top spot for the 22nd survey in a row.

“The biggest losers in 2016 were Ministers of Religion 35% (down 4%) hitting a new record low and Bank Managers 30% (down 4% this year and down a massive 13% since 2014). After a Royal Commission last year into union corruption Union Leaders 13% (down 1%) were one of only four professions to lose respect from Australians over the past year.

“Although most professions showed an increase this year the biggest improvers were University Lecturers 68% (up 7%) – equalling their best ever performance, and Accountants 51% (up 6%). Other notable improvers were Engineers 78% (up 4%) and Police 72% (up 3%) – both at new record highs near the top of the table and also Public Servants 39% (up 4%) – also at a new record high. 

“Interestingly, Federal MPs 17% (up 4%) have increased on the eve of a new Federal Election and are at their highest since early 2009 at the time the Rudd Government sent out stimulus payments of up to $950 to more than 13 million Australians. However, there is still no love for Car Salesmen 4% (unchanged) – a position they have held for over 30 years unchallenged as Australia’s least trusted profession.”

These are the main findings of a Roy Morgan telephone survey conducted on the nights of May 4-5, 2016, with 655 Australian men and women aged 14 and over.

Respondents were asked: “As I say different occupations, could you please say – from what you know or have heard - which rating best describes how you, yourself, would rate or score people in various occupations for honesty and ethical standards (Very High, High, Average, Low, Very Low)?”

More details are available to subscribers. For more details contact Julian McCrann at (03) 9224 5365 or

Selected Professions across selected years.












All-time high in 2016

Ministers of Religion





All-time low in 2016

Bank Managers





Down 24% since 1988

Car Salesmen





Last for 35 years in a row

For further information and comment:




Gary Morgan:

+61 3 9224 5213

+61 411 129 094

Michele Levine:

+61 3 9224 5215

+61 411 129 093

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. The following table gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. The figures are approximate and for general guidance only, and assume a simple random sample. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate



25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%