Most Dishonest Professions: Top 5 Shady Jobs, According To Career Experts

If an honest profession is defined by the integrity of the workers, then what is a dishonest profession? Is it a collection of dishonest workers? Is it a job where the tasks are completed more easily through deception? Is it a role where personal gain is more important than reaching a goal or completing a task? Any profession that involves deception, fraud, or misrepresentation of facts could be considered a dishonest profession. When considering what constitutes as shady work, some immediate examples that spring to mind include politicians, con artists, car salesmen, and lawyers. That doesn’t mean all people on that career path are prone to be bad, many of them are great. That being said, it is hard to figure out which are the most dishonest professions, as sneaky people can be present in any job.

Usually, people who find meaning in their work tend to be happier, as their passion and drive for what they do keeps them motivated. The happiest jobs for each person will vary according to their individual strengths and unique personality. One recent study says some people actually prefer to lie because of the fear that the truth will hurt their reputation. The study looked at several experiments which test how people handle situations where they gain a financial advantage over others. Researchers say several people chose to lie about their good fortune because telling the truth could make them appear selfish or dishonest.

“Many people care greatly about their reputation and how they will be judged by others, and a concern about appearing honest may outweigh our desire to actually be honest,” says lead researcher Shoham Choshen-Hillel, from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in a statement. “Our findings suggest that when people obtain extremely favorable outcomes, they anticipate other people’s suspicious reactions and prefer lying and appearing honest over telling the truth and appearing as selfish liars.”

Why are some employees considered “bad”? A new study says it might be all in the way bosses treat their staff. It really does start at the top, especially at a toxic workplace. Horrible bosses can create horrible staff. Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom say that bad behavior by management encourages the same throughout an organization. Maybe that’s where the lying begins, too.

As this is a highly subjective topic, the best way to get to the bottom of current public perceptions is to look at what is the most common perception of certain careers. StudyFinds has visited 10 business and finance websites to find this list of the five most dishonest professions with the worst reputation for being truthful in 2023. What’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.

work argument
Boss yelling at employees (Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels)

The List: Most Dishonest Professions, According to Experts

1. Political Lobbyist

Lobbyists are increasingly seen as the people that set global policy in motion. Political lobbyists have a poor reputation because they are paid to represent the interests of their clients and not necessarily the interests of the public.

Lobbyist (Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels)

According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of adults in France and the U.S., as well as about half in the United Kingdom, believe their political system needs major changes or a complete overhaul. Why? “Some of the frustrations people feel about their political systems are tied to their opinions about political elites…Young people, in particular, generally tend to see politicians as corrupt. And those who say most politicians are corrupt are much more likely to think their political systems need serious reform.”

Lobbyists may also use tactics such as exaggerating facts, making false promises, and withholding information to further their client’s interests. Additionally, they often rely on political connections and donations to gain favor with politicians. The net result of this erosion of trust in the political system seems to be clearly associated with the effect of lobbyists on the political system. Medical Economics writes, “lobbyists consistently have a small percent rating their honesty as high or very high.”

Insider Monkey lays out the facts: “When you crunch the numbers, you’ll see that only 5% of Americans have a somewhat good opinion of them, and only 1% of people understand their importance and fully support them. 31% of people have decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, but as seen above, more than half of those surveyed have decided to speak their mind openly.”

2. Used Car Salesperson

Purchasing a used car in one of the most common transactions both in person and on-line. Whether deserved or not, used car salespeople are often viewed as dishonest because of the aggressive sales tactics used by some to pressure customers into buying cars they may not need or cannot afford. According to Forbes, “Car salespeople are also one of the least trusted professions in America today with only 8% of people viewing them as honest and ethical.”

Photo of a Salesman Talking to a Customer
A car salesman talking to a customer (Photo by Antoni Shkraba on Pexels)

Additionally, some salespeople may offer deals that sound too good to be true, while hiding the true cost of the car or not disclosing all the details of a loan. Once again, it seems that a lack of trust has caused the perception of dishonesty.

Stacker adds the following: “Americans tend to view salespeople as dishonest, or at a very minimum willing to lie to get you to buy. At least one study, titled ‘Deception as Competence,’ may indicate that these beliefs aren’t completely unfounded, as more competent and successful salespeople tend to be more dishonest. And when you’re considering a major purchase, like a car, the last thing you want is a less-than-truthful person assisting you with the process.”

Moneywise even goes as far as to call out a common perception, “The stereotype of the sleazy, lying car salesperson endures because only 9% of Americans think these professionals are honest and have high ethical standards.”

3. Real estate agent

Real estate agents are not necessarily considered to be dishonest, however, there are some cases where agents have been accused of unethical behavior such as falsifying information, overcharging clients, or misrepresenting property values.

A real estate agent passing keys to a homeowner
A real estate agent passing keys to a homeowner (Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels)

Medical Economics writes of their trust level with most people: “They (real estate agents) are actually doing better now than during the ’90s, when their rating was in the mid-teens. This year, Americans rated them at 20% high or very high, which is a new high rating for this profession.”

In fact, many agents are viewed as being complicit in the instability of the global housing market. Unfortunately, some negative experiences have caused a bad perception of the profession, and the industry as a whole.

The Balance adds, “When real estate agents lie, it’s most likely to be about themselves. They may misrepresent their experience or their credentials on their websites or blogs. Some spend inordinate amounts of time posting online to obtain maximum search engine exposure. Others pay for commercial rights and buy ads to rank above search results in Google and Yahoo.”

It is still plainly obvious that public trust has waned over the years and can be very difficult to restore. This is easy to understand when many real estate agents use dubious business practices. In another example, The Balance details that with regards to so-called Non Negotiable Commissions: “This is one that rolls right off many agents’ tongues, although it might not appear on their websites. They’ll say that their commissions are not negotiable. Don’t believe it.”

The pressure to capture sales can motivate some dishonest real estate agents leave up old listings.  These listings contain a vague address, referencing the area or neighborhood instead of the house number and street. Real estate agents are expected to abide by ethical standards, and those who violate them should face the consequences.

4. Stock Trade Brokers

Stockbrokers are often viewed as gatekeepers to financial independence. This is made all the more difficult when a common perception is highlighted by Insider Monkey: “Stockbrokers are even less trusted than insurance salespeople and state officeholders.” They are frequently viewed as a dishonest profession due to the potential for conflicts of interest and incentives to take advantage of clients.

Investor looking at stock market crash
Stockbroker (© Rido –

Stock traders may also carry the perception of being unscrupulous in their dealings, using knowledge of the market to manipulate clients into making decisions that are not in their best interest. As written by Medical Economics their level of trust is not very high: “After hitting a low in 2009 with only 9%, stockbrokers are back up at 12%. However, they have a long way to go until they hit their high of 19%, which they were rated in 1998, 2000 and 2001.”

Additionally, they are often seen as taking advantage of their privileged positions to make personal profits at the expense of their clients. In their opinion metrics, Insider Monkey also states that, “Only 11% of Americans hold them (stock traders) in high regard … this leaves stockbrokers with 30% of negative and 9% of extremely negative reviews.”

5. Members of congress

There is no single answer as to why Congressperson tops nearly every survey list as the most dishonest profession. Money Talks News states that, “The dislike of members of Congress is among the few things that can unite us across the red/blue divide. Nearly equal percentages of Democrats and Republicans expressed low opinions of the honesty and ethical standards of people who serve in Congress.”

Politician (Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels)

Some potential reasons include a desire to win re-election, a lack of ethics or moral standards, a desire to gain personal or financial gain, or a lack of accountability to constituents.

Just like the state and local officials, people have a hard time trusting their congressmen. The Richest goes on to showcase that this is especially true when “the higher up a person is on the political ladder, the less ethical they seem to be.”

Add to this the sensational lack of oversight for elected officials, and the result is a current low opinion of congressional honesty. To make matters worse, many Americans cannot name one of their local elected officials. With this in mind, it is no surprise that a lack of trust exists between the public and their elected officials. Moneywise states that, “an overwhelming number of constituents believe that politicians put in a poor work performance.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.


  1. Politicians, lawyers, judges, clergymen, contractors, insurance workers, car mechanics, fishing guides, cops. In fact, most people are unaware of what constitutes factual accuracy, objectivity, and evidence. Instead, they are ‘believers’ – delusional, ignorant, self-serving, emotion-guided rationalizers.

  2. BY FOCUSSING ON SERIOUS POPULATION PRESSURES, YOU IGNORE EXCESS RESOURCE USE. Sure at 8 billion we exceed the natural regeneration of nature, but you take consumption as fixed. It shouldn’t! Just like we don’t drag partners by the hair to a cave or drunk drive, so we need to charge real prices for FOOTPRINTS, instead of subsidising old habits.
    Read: LivingGreenUK March and April on sustainable economics and consumerism
    … or I’ll send you copies

  3. Completely missed the most corrupt group …those in healthcare that help kill nearly 1,000,000 americans a year in the medical mistake and screwed up drug biz

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