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What are Service Industry Jobs?

By K. Kinsella
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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The service industry is composed of businesses and individuals that market a wide variety of services to consumers and commercial enterprises. People employed in service industry jobs include workers in the travel industry and hospitality workers. Financial professionals, communications firm employees and various others who generate money without selling actual products all fall into this group as well. Both entry-level workers and highly skilled workers can find jobs within the industry and the pay levels vary greatly between different roles.

People employed in service industry jobs in the transportation sector include train drivers, ticket collectors, airline stewards and pilots. These individuals are tasked with ensuring that clients travel safely one from location to another. Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes mechanics, engineers and air traffic controllers are tasked with ensuring that transportation systems function efficiently and safely. Transportation firms also employ large numbers of sales people and customer service clerks and these individuals are responsible for selling tickets and catering to passenger's needs.

The hospitality sector includes establishments that provide consumers with food, beverages and accommodation such as restaurants, bars and hotels. Servers and bartenders work in all of these establishments and these front line employees often receive the majority of their wages in the form of tips. While these individuals actually deliver food and drinks to clients, many hospitality workers are employed in behind-the-scenes service industry jobs and these roles include chefs, purchasing managers, cleaners and customer service clerks. Purchasing managers order supplies for a particular facility while clerks accept reservations and attempt to resolve customer's complaints; typically, hospitality venues are overseen by a manager who hires and fires staff while also ensuring that the location creates a profit.

Bankers, insurance agents, mortgages brokers and real estate agents are also employed in service industry jobs. These professionals attempt to provide financial solutions for client's issues and advise individuals and business owners on making big purchases or investment decisions. Likewise, attorneys and accountants are licensed professionals who provide people with legal or tax advice. People engaged in other types of service roles include plumbers, electricians and couriers, all of whom perform tasks rather than selling tangible products.

Workers in sales positions or customer service roles are often entry-level employees while those employed in management positions across the service industry as a whole are usually college graduates. People who work as attorneys, physicians, engineers and accountants are among the types of service industry workers who must complete college and industry licensing courses. Typically, those with the best academic and professional credentials tend to be the most highly compensated although people in some entry-level sales roles can generate significant amounts of income if they exceed their revenue goals.

What Is Service Industry?

The service industry is an expansive sector of the economy that is dedicated to providing intangible goods and services to individuals, businesses and the general public. The service sector differs from the goods sector in that it is not directly involved in the manufacturing and production of goods and products. Some characteristics that define the service industry are:

Intangibility

A key feature of the service industry is that the services provided are impenetrable to the senses—the service itself cannot be touched, seen, smelled, tasted or heard in the way that a physical product can be.

Immediacy

Once a good is produced and purchased, it may be consumed at a single time in the present or future, or used repeatedly, depending on the nature and purpose of the item. Services, on the other hand, are “consumed” at the moment the service is rendered. For example, a customer who visits a bank to deposit a check is served by a teller who completes the transaction and the service is done.

Impermanence

As a service is intangible, there is nothing to be stocked or stored. A service is intended to be used at the time at which it is offered, as in the case of dentist appointments or design consultations.

Inconstancy

Service tasks can be performed by different people, at different times of the day, during varied states of demand. Due to the unpredictability of these factors, the quality of a service can vary from day-to-day and person-to-person. A patron who frequents the same coffee shop and orders the same drink daily may find that the taste and consistency vary based on which barista makes the drink.

Involvement

Customer involvement—scheduling an appointment, making a request, offering input, etc.—is paramount for any service to occur, regardless of whether the customer is physically present at the time of service.

Service Industry Examples

Companies within the service industry add value to their customers and clients by performing tasks and offering services that fulfill a demonstrated need. They offer many types of nonmaterial goods, such as:

  • Customer service
  • Management and personnel
  • Security
  • Sanitation
  • Education and training
  • Consulting
  • Healthcare
  • Recreation
  • Design
  • Data and information

The service industry spans many fields and focuses on providing essential services and positive experiences, creating employment opportunities and contributing to economic growth. Some examples of fields within the service industry are:

1. Hospitality

The hospitality industry includes lodging and accommodations, food and beverage, travel and tourism, and recreation and entertainment.

2. Healthcare

Dedicated to the physical and mental wellness of its patients, the healthcare industry includes hospitals, walk-in clinics, rehabilitation centers and doctors’ offices.

3. Finance

Financial services are offered through businesses such as banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders and trade brokers.

4. Education

Early childhood facilities, K-12 schools, universities and colleges all provide services related to education. Professional training companies can also fall under this umbrella.

5. Professional Services

Services such as accounting and legal counseling generally require a licensed professional.

6. Fitness

Gyms, recreation centers, yoga studios and similar establishments offer services such as group exercise classes, personal training sessions, open gym times and other services related to physical health.

7. Maintenance and Repair

Available to both residential and commercial properties, maintenance and repair services include plumbing, exterminating, HVAC, and electrical work.

What Is a Service Job?

The service industry is said to produce more than 70% of jobs in developed countries with strong economies. Employment opportunities can fall under one of the three main types of services:

1. Consumer Services

These are services offered to individuals. A customer will seek to hire someone to perform a task or service, most commonly for convenience or because the task requires a specialized set of skills that the consumer does not possess. Here is a list of 20 jobs that provide consumer services:

  • Food server
  • Bartender
  • Chef
  • Bank teller
  • Real estate agent
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Exterminator
  • Repairman
  • Mechanic
  • Landscaper
  • Massage therapist
  • Personal trainer
  • Stylist
  • Barber
  • Tutor
  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Pharmacist
  • Dentist

2. Business Services

This area of the service industry supports companies’ day-to-day operations, helping them to run smoothly and efficiently. Professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, can provide services to both individuals and businesses. Jobs that specifically offer services to benefit businesses include:

  • Marketing associate
  • Security guard
  • Staffing agent
  • IT professional
  • Consultant
  • Corporate event planner
  • Researcher
  • Translator
  • Interpreter

3. Public Services

Employees who work in the public sector are tasked with providing services that are dedicated to the safety and well-being of the general public. Some community-based jobs are:

  • Police officer
  • Firefighter
  • Councilman
  • Postal carrier
  • Sanitation worker
  • Public defender
  • Public school teacher
  • Crossing guard
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By josh1234 — On Oct 02, 2012

Nice breakdown of the service industry. I was looking for a list of the different types and this helped a lot. Thanks a lot for the information.

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