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Who knew private cooks have such big heads? Or that doctors are so humble?

In a new survey from PayScale.com, the online salary information company ranked occupations by ego size. It asked 383,000 people how strongly they agree with the statement, “I am the top performer at my company for jobs similar to mine,” with the highest scores suspected to reflect “either a high level of professional confidence, an inflated sense of self, or both.”

It turns out many of us think quite highly of ourselves. Forty-three percent of people strongly agreed that they are their company’s top performer, with little difference between men and women.

Private household cooks topped the ranking, with 74 percent saying they were the very best, edging out chief executives, who came in at No. 2 despite earning a median salary that was two times as much. Farm and ranch managers, art directors and airfield operations specialists were the motley crew that rounded out the top five.

With chefs and head cooks coming in at No. 8, and bartenders at No. 9, the food and drink industry seems to be a prominent breeding ground for healthy egos.

To be sure, company size may skew responses because the question asks people to compare themselves to co-workers. Private cooks, after all, may be their company’s sole employee.

But it was striking to see some job titles at the bottom of the confidence scale.

Just 26 percent of internists strongly agreed that they are the best, tied with cable repairmen and firefighters to rank 475 out of 483 (graduate teaching assistants ranked last). Pediatricians, psychiatrists and anesthesiologists were other highly paid medical professions that ranked well below average for ego.

That could be because there are so many high performers in the field that many doctors don’t deign to think they are the best, or that the subject matter is so complex that humility is warranted. But if driven by self-doubt, low ego isn’t exactly a comforting quality.

“You would hope that all of your doctors are exceedingly confident,” said Sean Leslie, senior content strategist at PayScale.

People with medical degrees had the lowest ego scores despite having the highest median salaries. The biggest egos were found among people with masters in business administration as well as — more surprisingly — people with only GEDs or high school diplomas.

However, despite several notable outliers, overall larger egos are correlated with higher salaries. That could be because confident people negotiate pay better, or because people tend to feel more secure in their abilities later in their careers when they are making more money, Leslie said.

If there is a takeaway from the report, it is that “being confident pays off,” Leslie said. “Fake it till you make it.”

Delusions of grandeur

A new survey from PayScale.comranked occupations by ego size. The 10 most arrogant professions were:

1. Private chefs

2. Chief executives

3. Art directors

4. Airfield operations specialists

5. Floral designers

6. Plant and systems operators

7. Chefs and head cooks

8. Bartenders

9. Farmers and ranchers

10. Sound engineering technicians

Source: PayScale.com

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