What are the UK's most-despised professions?

Parking ticket on a car windshield.

"So, what do you do for a living?"

For most of us, it's a pretty innocuous question - but for a select few it's a source of dread. Answer truthfully, and likely as not you'll see distaste or outright revulsion.

A recent survey from printing service Solopress found that a quarter of people lie about their jobs, generally by upping their level of responsibility to make themselves sound more important than they actually are.

But there are some jobs where no amount of shading the truth will make much difference to the way you're perceived.

Traditionally, the most-hated profession has been that of traffic warden, placed top of the list back in 2004 in a poll by drinks-maker Horlicks.

Eleven years on, though, and it seems that things have changed. The latest poll, conducted by Intelligent Car Leasing, finds that politicians are clearly in the lead as the nation's most hated professionals; traffic wardens are now in fifth place, cited by only 8% of respondents.

Bankers are the pet hate of one in seven people, with door-to-door salespeople cited by a fifth. Just over a quarter of people say they have the least respect for telemarketers.

But the profession that commands by far the least respect is that of politician, cited by nearly a third.

"Political scandals in recent times have pushed politicians higher up the list. It's safe to say that the political landscape in the UK hasn't been short of scandals in the past decade," says researcher Pete McAllister.

"These included wildly indulgent MPs' expenses, friends of MPs being allowed to sit in on defence meetings and of course the 'Plebgate' incident. Not to mention the very unpopular Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition who introduced a series of seething deficit reduction measures."

Traffic wardens, meanwhile, are becoming thinner on the ground. Following the financial crisis of 2008, public sector jobs have been cut hard, with traffic wardens taking their share of the burden - indeed, some towns have done away with them altogether.

And telesales is booming, with the number of call centre workers in the UK rising steadily by 10% per year: we encounter a lot more of them than we ever used to.

So when you want to make a good impression at a party, how do you describe yourself when you have one of these unpopular jobs?

The UK's most-despised professions
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What are the UK's most-despised professions?

If you're a politician, you could perhaps fudge things in a brief conversation by describing yourself as a campaigner, then wheeling out a pet cause that nobody could really object to.

Generally, though, there's nowhere you can really hide. Console yourself with the fact that most of the time you'll only be meeting kindred souls who are all in favour of your plans to dish out handouts to the undeserving while clobbering decent people.

Once the election's over, after all, you can avoid your awful constituents for another five years.

They always seem to call during dinner and they won't take no for an answer: it's no wonder telemarketers appear on the list. If you are one and want to disguise it, the best way is probably to break the news gradually. Start with "I work in finance"; move on with "I'm a sales consultant"; and only once you're sure you can get away with it, admit you badger people about PPI.

"The suckiest thing was when people would insult my intelligence based solely upon my job," writes one poster on a jobs forum; sign up for an evening course and tell people you're working to pay your way through college.

All of the above apply to door-to-door sales, too - but with the handicap that you're more likely to have somebody recognise you and blow your cover. Wear a disguise at work.

Recently, one Patrick Sheehy wrote indignantly in the Guardian about his appearance in the famous 2011 photograph Bankers at Leadenhall Market.

"I like this photograph, but the fact the photographer called it Bankers at Leadenhall Market irritates me. I recognise every face in this picture and not one is a banker," he wrote. "Everyone in the photograph actually works in insurance."

Most people wouldn't see much of a distinction; but what this shows is that even to someone at the heart of the financial industry, the accusation of being a banker is too much to bear.

As with politicians, though, you're likely to do most of your socialising in situations where your job - and the pay packet that goes with it - is more than acceptable. Otherwise, a clever use of syntax may do the job: "I work in a bank" and a mention of "the manager" could give the impression that you're counter staff.

The Northern Echo recently catalogued some of the insults and assaults experienced by local traffic wardens. They included death threats, a head-butting, and even a case where two female wardens were sprayed with deodorants that were then used as flame-throwers towards them. They are frequently pushed or spat at.

Out of uniform, you can always describe yourself as a public servant, or even a road safety worker - and just pray nobody ever sees you at work.


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