What Is a Service Industry? (With Examples)

Updated October 20, 2023

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The service industry sector is an important part of a functioning society and growing economy. These businesses employ talented individuals who provide valuable services and nonmaterial goods. Service industries exist in many different fields, and understanding their role in society can help those interested in pursuing a career in service better understand their employment options.

In this article, we define service industries, explain their importance, examine the benefits of working in the service sector and provide lists of example service industry jobs.

What is a service industry?

A service industry provides people with intangible products or services and completes tasks that are useful to customers, clients, businesses or the general public. Service industries, unlike, for example, manufacturing and production industries, do not rely on the sale of material goods and products to earn a profit. Instead, the individuals who work in the service sector focus on completing tasks and providing services.

There are several types of nonmaterial goods and products that service industries provide to people, including:

  • Customer service

  • Consulting

  • Management

  • Design

  • Data

  • Information

  • Safety

  • Ideas

  • Education

  • Maintenance

  • Repair

  • Cleanliness/sanitation

  • Health care

  • Knowledge

  • Experiences

Related: The Top 13 Largest US Industries

Why are service industries important?

Service industries are an important part of society for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Delivering essential services to the public: Often, service industries provide essential services to the public, such as healthcare, transportation and education.

  • Creating positive experiences: Several service industries, including hospitality, beauty and wellness, entertainment and fitness, create positive experiences that provide emotional value and promote the well-being of those they serve.

  • Providing employment opportunities: As manufacturing and production industries become more mechanized, the demand for service industry workers is increasing in areas such as distribution and sales, creating a surplus of opportunity. The service sector offers several rewarding careers to individuals passionate about delivering important services to their community.

  • Acting as an indication of economic growth: Often, a strong or growing service sector is an indicator of a healthy economy. As new services and nonmaterial goods become available to the public, service industries grow to continually serve the needs of customers and businesses, increasing this industry's impact on the global economy.

Related: 19 Types of Industry Sectors

Benefits of working in a service industry

Working in a service industry offers many benefits. Below are some of the top benefits of working in a service industry:

Provides job security

During challenging times in the economy, people generally reduce their spending on material goods and seek the services and nonmaterial goods offered by the service sector. This offers job security to those working in service industries with a low risk of job loss, layoff, furlough or business closure during economic downturns.

Related: How To Increase Job Security

Offers flexible hours

Often, service industry jobs offer flexible hours, which allows individuals to be selective about their work schedule and pursue their education and passions, see family members and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

Develops your expertise

Securing a job in a service industry often includes focusing on and developing a specific set of skills and expertise. Performing tasks and completing services that develop those skills daily can sharpen your expertise and knowledge in a certain field. This allows individuals working in a service industry to more quickly reach high levels of expertise than those working in other industries and may present opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Related: 7 Transferable Customer Service Skills and Related Jobs

Improves interpersonal skills

Working in a service industry typically involves close communication with the general public, customers and fellow team members. A service industry job allows you to improve your interpersonal communication and teamwork abilities. These skills can be useful in other, more advanced service professions or in any other field in which you may choose to pursue a career.

Gives opportunities for advancement

Frequently, businesses in a service industry consider their current employees when opportunities for promotion or advancement arise before considering external candidates to fill available positions. A service industry job may present you with more opportunities to advance in your career than in other industries because of the value placed on loyalty and hard work within the service sector.

Fosters entrepreneurship

Service industries often foster entrepreneurship due to their low startup costs and lack of manufacturing processes. After gaining valuable skills and expertise working for a business in a service industry, individuals may choose to start their own small business with the service knowledge they've gained from their role.

For example, a professional cleaner may start their own private cleaning business and earn more profit from working directly with their clients, rather than being paid through an employer.

Related: 10 Pros and Cons of Being a Small Business Owner

Examples of service industries

Below are several examples of service industries with explanations and common job titles within each category:

1. Hospitality

The hospitality industry includes hotels, restaurants and bars. Individuals working in hospitality offer dining experiences, hotel stays and entertainment to their customers.

Common job titles within the hospitality industry include:

  • Server

  • Bartender

  • Sommelier/wine steward

  • Front desk clerk

  • Concierge

  • Hotel manager

  • Chef

  • Host/hostess

  • Restaurant manager

2. Tourism

The tourism industry also includes hotels, but it typically includes tour guide companies, consultation services and travel-based event planning, as well. Individuals working in the tourism industry offer experiences, knowledge, consultation and management services to their customers.

Some common job titles in the tourism industry include:

  • Tour guides

  • Travel agents

  • Concierges

  • Special event planners

3. Finance

The finance industry includes banks, financial consulting firms and accounting roles. Those working in the finance industry often help clients apply for or set up investments, loans and bank accounts. They may also offer advice and consultation to customers.

Common job titles in the finance industry include:

  • Bank tellers

  • Loan officers

  • Accountants

  • Bank managers

  • Financial advisors

4. Fitness

The fitness service industry includes establishments such as gyms that offer users services such as personal training sessions, fitness classes and exercise education.

Common job titles in the fitness industry include:

  • Personal trainer

  • Fitness instructor

  • Yoga teacher

  • Gym owner

  • Fitness coach

5. Beauty and wellness

The beauty and wellness industry includes spas, hair salons, nail salons, makeup studios and dermatology practices. Individuals working in the beauty industry offer services such as haircuts, manicures, facials and makeup application to customers.

Common job titles in the beauty and wellness industry include:

  • Makeup artist

  • Hairstylist

  • Dermatologist

  • Esthetician

  • Nail artist

  • Massage therapist

6. Mechanical

The mechanical industry covers all businesses that offer repair or maintenance services. The services provided by individuals in the mechanical industry include mechanical expertise, repairs and sanitation.

Common job titles in the mechanical industry include:

  • Plumber

  • Electrician

  • Auto mechanic

7. Media and entertainment

The media and entertainment industry includes television, film, theater, news outlets, music and live performances. The intangible products provided by those in the media and entertainment industry include experiences and entertainment.

Common job titles in the media and entertainment industry include:

  • Actor/actress

  • Musician

  • News reporter

  • Film director

  • Composer

  • Television producer

8. Design

The design industry includes all businesses and individuals who offer creation and design services to customers and clients. The services provided by individuals in this field include logo designs for companies, artwork for clients and home renovation and organization for homeowners.

Common job titles in the design industry include:

  • Graphic designer

  • Interior designer

  • Software designer

  • Product designer

9. Marketing and sales

The marketing and sales sector includes professionals who offer promotional and sales services to businesses and clients. This type of work may include selling cars to prospective buyers, conducting marketing campaigns that effectively target a company's audience or listing houses for sale.

Common job titles in the marketing and sales sector include:

  • Marketing consultant

  • Real estate agent

  • Promotional manager

  • Sales representative

10. Education

The education industry includes schools, universities and training facilities. The services provided by those working in education may include test preparation, general education that helps a student earn a degree and advice for a student's future educational or career path.

Common job titles in the education sector include:

  • Teacher

  • Professor

  • Trainer

  • Tutor

11. Health care

The healthcare industry includes hospitals, care facilities and medical practices. Those working in healthcare provide services such as knowledge, advice, consulting, customer service and medical care to patients.

Common job titles in the healthcare industry include:

  • Doctor

  • Nurse

  • Physical therapist

  • Pharmacist

  • Surgeon

  • Radiologist

  • Dentist

  • Dental hygienist

  • Medical technician

  • Paramedic

  • Emergency medical technician

12. Public service

The public service sector includes all fields dedicated to providing safety and maintaining the well-being of the general public. Individuals working in public service provide intangible goods such as safety, cleanliness, information, consultation and customer service.

Common job titles in public service include:

  • Police officer

  • Public defender

  • Crossing guard

  • Postal carrier

  • Firefighter

  • Sanitation engineer

  • Health inspector

  • Government official


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