The consumer services sector encompasses a vast array of industries and jobs. In fact, any career or business that provides services to individuals is part of the consumer services category.
If you’re drawn to service-related occupations, you may wonder if consumer services is a good career path for you. Ready to learn more? This guide covers:
- What Is Consumer Services?
- Types of Consumer Services Careers
- Entry-Level Jobs in Consumer Services
- Pros and Cons of Consumer Services Careers
What Is Consumer Services?
Consumer services are any service sold or provided to an individual or household. While countless jobs and industries fall under the consumer services umbrella, the common thread is that consumer services companies offer services, rather than tangible products, to customers.
Popular fields within consumer services include education, leisure and hospitality, health and social, banking, consulting, and legal services. With total annual revenue of $300 billion and around 455,000 organizations in the U.S., consumer services is a career path with limitless opportunities.
“Consumer services is actually an incredibly broad scope that essentially includes all careers in which you provide a service to a person,” explains Shirlene Kyin, director of operations at Soylent. “This can be anything from a bartender, to an accountant, to a custodian, to an insurance agent, to a software consultant, and more. It exists in all industries and takes on countless forms.”
>>MORE: Learn about the pros and cons of a career path in hotels/resorts.
Types of Consumer Services Careers
Because so many careers and industries fall under the consumer services category, it’s impossible to list every type of possible job in the field. However, some examples of consumer services jobs include:
- Software engineer
- Hotel manager
- Police officer
- Travel agent
- Insurance agent
- Graphic designer
- IT consultant
- Investment banker
- Digital marketer
- Project manager
“There are a number of career paths in consumer services, but some of the most common include customer service representative, sales representative, and marketing manager,” says Carlos Barros, director of marketing at Epos Now.
“Customer service representatives help customers with inquiries or complaints about a product or service, sales representatives promote and sell products or services to customers, and marketing managers develop and execute marketing plans and strategies,” Barros continues. “All of these careers typically require strong communication skills, problem-solving skills, and customer service skills.”
>>MORE: Is Marketing a Good Career Path?
Entry-Level Jobs in Consumer Services
According to Barros, entry-level careers in consumer services are also some of the most common occupations in the field — including customer service, sales, and call center representatives.
Other entry-level consumer services positions include:
- Marketing coordinator
- Technical support associate
- Bank teller
- Flight attendant
- Human resources specialist
Barros also notes that the industry and company dictate the necessary prerequisites for an entry-level role. “Entry-level roles in consumer services can vary depending on the company. Some companies may require more experience than others,” he says.
For example, an entry-level position at an accounting or law firm will typically require more education and work experience than an entry-level position at a travel agency or hotel. Similarly, an entry-level job in management consulting may require significantly more training than an entry-level marketing position.
Either way, “The best way to get into consumer services is through internships and community-oriented programs,” explains Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy Painters St. Louis. “Building your network right away is the key to a successful career in consumer services.”
In addition, certain industries may be good starting points for entry-level job seekers. “Social services and health care are always hiring for people with consumer service experience and qualifications,” adds Kazimierski.
>>MORE: Find out if health care is a good career path for you.
Pros and Cons of Consumer Services Careers
With such varied job opportunities in consumer services, many of the benefits and disadvantages are specific to each career, industry, and company. However, if you’re trying to decide is consumer services a good career path for you, here are some general pros and cons.
Pros of Consumer Services Jobs
Minimal Education Requirements
If you’re looking to get into consumer services and are open to various industries, ample opportunities exist that only require a high school diploma and minimal work experience. From there, you can work your way up into management positions.
When you work directly with consumers, providing services that people need can be extremely rewarding. “You work directly with people, so you are the one helping and making a difference for them,” says Kyin. “These jobs can feel very impactful and fulfilling.”
Barros agrees that working with the public and helping them solve their problems is a definite pro of this career path.
Great for Skills Development
Whether you’re providing technical support to customers or legal services to clients, service careers enable you to develop extensive interpersonal skills. These transferable skills become a part of your permanent skill set and can help you succeed in any other profession in consumer services.
Cons of Consumer Services Jobs
Irregular and Non-Traditional Schedules
One downside of service jobs is that consumers don’t only need services during weekday hours from 9-to-5 — which means you may have to work long hours and on nights, holidays, and weekends to keep up with demand.
In addition, you may not be able to count on having the same schedule every week as your hours adapt to the seasonality of the business.
Unfortunately, not every customer or client is easy to work with, which can lead to stress and burnout in consumer services jobs. In particular, Kyin explains that these careers can “be draining for those who are more introverted and/or deal with frustrating customers.”
Barros agrees that a con of a consumer services career is that “you often have to deal with difficult customers who may be angry or frustrated.”
Consumer services are, by nature, ever-changing. After all, companies must be able to adapt quickly to consumers’ changing needs and wants. In turn, employees in consumer services must possess considerable adaptability skills to keep up. While some people thrive in a dynamic, changing environment, others may find it too hard to shift gears and priorities continually.
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