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Military Officers Climb in Perceived Status

Fred W. Baker III, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2009

U.S. military officers have “very great prestige,” and their status is climbing, according to a poll released this week.

The Harris Poll ranked 23 occupations based on the responses of more than 1,000 adults polled last month.

More than half of those polled gave military officers top marks, saying that the position held very great prestige. Military officers tied with teachers for 51 percent.

Firefighters, scientists, doctors and nurses topped the list, and accountants, stockbrokers and actors were at the bottom of the list.

Military officers garnered a 5 percent increase over last year’s poll results. Of those surveyed, 24 percent said military officers held considerable prestige, 17 percent responded with some prestige, and 7 percent said the job held hardly any prestige at all.

The Harris Poll has asked this same question since 1977, but military officers didn’t make the list of occupations until 1982. In that year, only 22 percent said the job held very great prestige. Ten years later, that percentage raised 10 points to 32 percent. By 2000, the number had jumped to 42 percent, and in 2002 it was up to 47 percent.

This year’s increase follows last year’s drop to 46 percent. Polls in 2006 and 2007 reported top spots at 51 and 52 percent, respectively.

More than 200,000 officers serve in the active-duty military forces.

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