Is consumer services a good career path? Let’s explore this.
Consumer services are basically the things consumers… um… consume? When we look at a business that “does something for someone” instead of “sells a product to someone,” we’re looking at consumer services.
So–the thing is–answering the question means facing one fact first. There are a lot of different roles in consumer services. Some pay great and come with job security. Some are terrible.
If you’re figuring out if consumer services is a good career path for you, you’ll need to pay attention to where you’re heading in the VERY BROAD category.
Okay. Nuff said.
But the GREAT thing about consumer services is that there’s lots of variety. Lots of ways to help and serve people. From bartenders to software consultants, consumer services jobs offer a diverse range of opportunities for those who enjoy working with people and finding solutions to their problems.
But is consumer services a good career path?
I won’t bury the lede. I think a lot of consumer service areas provide solid career opportunities. In this post, I’ll show you why.
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- Overview of Consumer Services
- Career Opportunities in Consumer Services
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Consumer Services as a Career Path
Overview of Consumer Services
What is Consumer Services?
Consumer services describe a bunch of different types of businesses that serve people. Unlike a consumer product, where someone buys something, a consumer service is where you sell or deliver a service to a customer.
That means that most consumer service jobs deal with… PEOPLE!
When we talk about selling people services, we’re talking about a whole bunch of different businesses: things like retail, hospitality, banking, and telecommunications. And a lot of consumer services businesses are REALLY IMPORTANT.
When someone has a root canal, they need a dentist. When someone’s furnace stops working, they need an HVAC technician.
This means that a lot of different areas of consumer services are future-proof! That’s always a good thing to have in a career field.
Advantages of consumer services career
Here are some advantages of a career in a consumer services field!
- Work with people
- Easy to find an entry-level job
- Various industries to choose from
- On-the-job training
- Climb into management positions
- Career advancement potential
- Take advantage of your soft skills
- Play a crucial role in customer experience and grow customer satisfaction
- Choose a type of work that interests you
- Decent job outlook (for several fields)
Types of Consumer Services
Indeed lists 18 different types of consumer services. And for each one, I’ll give a few examples of consumer services to help you see what they look like:
- Education: ie. Teacher, Professor
- Legal: ie. Lawyer, Police officer, Judge, Paralegal
- Medical: ie. Surgeon, EMT, Physician, Nurse
- Restaurant: ie. Chef, Server
- Travel: ie. Flight attendant, Travel agent
- Insurance: ie. Underwriter, Insurance Agent
- Media: ie. News Anchor, Actor, Journalist
- Visual Design: Graphic designer, UX designer
- Entertainment: Singer, Stagehand
- Technology: ie. Software developer, IT consultant
- Maintenance: ie. Plumber, HVAC tech, Carpenter
- Transportation: ie. Bus driver, Train conductor
- Finance: ie. Bank teller, Real Estate Agent, Financial Services Professionals
- Servicing Products: ie. Phone repair
- Culture: ie. Park ranger, Yoga instructor, Zookeeper
- E-Commerce: ie. Digital marketer, Web developer, Market Researcher
- Architecture: ie. Architect, Urban planner, Project manager
- Utilities: Power plant operator, Electrician, Computer Specialist.
As you look at this list, there are a few things that jump out. Most of these jobs–to some extent–are customer service representatives. There’s lots of customer support required.
Which is maybe not a total surprise, since consumer services jobs mostly have to do with PEOPLE.
Some of these are in high-demand and growing. In fact, a lot of these jobs could be considered essential services. They’re not going anywhere. So when you’re looking at the future of the consumer services job market, the ones that can’t be automated should stay in high demand.
Some of these jobs are threatened by technology–which is why the Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a slight decline in the overall customer services jobs in the years to come.
If you’re looking at consumer services as a career path, consider the impact of technological advancements. For example, a company that relies on phone calls that currently needs customer service skills could replace this with either internet live chat or chat bots.
You’ll need to choose something that has demand and growth potential.
But the other good news is, the best jobs in consumer services are the ones that are likely to stay. Mixing customer service skills with valuable skills in the trades, health care, or finance gives you a lot of job options–some of these will stay in high demand.
Examples of consumer service roles that pay well
- Health care workers (Dentist, Physical Therapist, Anesthetist, Dietician)
- Medical service workers (Optometrist, Pharmacist)
- Knowledge economy workers (IT Consultant, Legal Consultant)
- Technical support specialists
- Customer service managers
- Marketing managers
- Real Estate Brokers
- Funeral Director
- Financial Advisors
This list is a good starting point for some of the best paying jobs in consumer services, but remember that there are TONS of options to choose from.
Consumer goods vs. consumer services?
Real quick, what’s the difference between consumer goods and consumer services? Consumer goods are the hard things that people buy: food, cars, clothes, etc. Consumer goods are products. Consumer services are things that people hire others to do for them (e.g. dentists, doctors, masseuse, drivers, etc.) You’re still working for someone, but not giving them a tangible product.
But the differences are a bit blurry.
Importance of Consumer Services
Consumer services are everywhere, and there’s one common denominator to all these jobs. PEOPLE.
Consumer services jobs are fundamentally about people. Choosing a career in consumer services will mean spending a lot of your career listening to, working with, and helping people. Which is fantastic.
In fact, many of these jobs make people’s lives a lot better:
- If someone is suffering, a doctor can help.
- If someone has faced injustice, a lawyer can help.
- If someone had a bad day, an actor or singer can bring them joy.
- If someone wants to improve their space, a carpenter can help.
That means that many consumer services professionals make a difference to someone’s quality of life. You’re helping, coaching, solving problems, or bringing people’s visions to life.
From human resources to finance consumer services to retail stores to legal advice to business administration, consumer services all impact someone’s life!
Which is cool!
If you love people and want to work with them, many of the jobs on this list look pretty great.
Career Opportunities in Consumer Services
What does the future of Consumer Services look like?
Okay, when thinking about the question, “Is consumer services a good career path,” you need to think about the future prospects.
So when you look at this list, you might notice that it’s probably impossible to say where most of these jobs will be in the future.
People are talking about how ChatGPT could replace lawyers.
Maybe planes could operate like drones, making pilots obsolete.
Maybe your surgeon will be replaced by a robot.
Maybe your local zookeeper will be replaced by genetically engineered monkeys. 🐒
Don’t believe me? JUST WATCH!
Just kidding. But seriously, all of these jobs will change in the future. That’s okay. Because I’m willing to bet that there will still be things we’d prefer to have from a human.
There will always be consumer service roles, no matter how much the field of consumer services changes.
Here’s why I’m betting the consumer services sector will be around for a long time.
- Some of these professions are really hard to automate. If I want my basement remodeled, chances are it’s going to take a human to do it.
- Some of these are artistic and pleasurable. I know that a robot could give me a tour of a museum. I still prefer a human.
- Some of these are luxuries. A masseuse could be replaced by a massage chair. But people still pay for them. For some consumer services, the human touch is a luxury.
- Tech is creating new consumer services all the time. A community manager is a pretty hot role in tech. It’s someone who leads a brand conversation in an online space. And it didn’t exist a decade ago.
This means that a lot of these consumer services fields will probably stick around in some way, shape, or form — although they will probably evolve. And new consumer services will pop up.
In fact, here are a few consumer services that have emerged or grown in recent years:
- Professional cuddlers
- Community managers
- Life coaches
- Relationship coaches
- OnlyFans models
- Cloud computing support
And finally, if you want to be future-proof, remember that consumer service jobs often have a lot of transferable skills. That means that things like your communication skills, people skills, problem-solving skills, etc. can take you into different fields.
That’s what we’ll talk about next.
Skills Required for Consumer Services
Okay, so let’s talk about the skills and strengths that play a vital role for a career in consumer services. Obviously, I can’t break down each and every skill required for these jobs. A surgeon needs to use a scalpel. An architect trains for years.
But there are some timeless, universal consumer service skills that will go with any successful career in consumer services companies. Things like:
- excellent customer service
- strong communication skills
- time management
- interpersonal skills
There are also strengths that are GOOD to have. Things like:
Remember that if you don’t have the skills above, it’s not the end of the world. You can always grow or strengthen these skills with awesome online learning tools like Skillshare or LinkedIn Learning–no college degree required for these ones.
Here are some examples of courses that could help you grow the skills required for careers at consumer services companies.
- Project Management Foundations (LinkedIn Learning)
- Sales Fundamentals (LinkedIn Learning)
- Communication Skills Machine: Master Persuasion and Influence for Entrepreneurship, Business, & Life (Skillshare)
- Leadership Foundations (LinkedIn Learning)
- Communicating with Confidence (LinkedIn)
Education and Training for Consumer Services
In addition to generic things like excellent communication skills, there might be certain requirements: trade school, licensing, or even a college degree for careers in some consumer services companies.
It’s hard to be general here about what kinds of education and training you’ll need for a career in consumer services in different industries.
An architect or physician needs years of training.
A cashier needs about 20 minutes.
This means that there are lots of entry-level jobs in consumer services you can get with a high school diploma. And in some cases, consumer services jobs require an associate’s or even a bachelor’s degree as a cutoff. If you’re already a college student, the good news is that some consumer service careers can benefit from the skills you might get from a degree (ie. In this post I talked about the skills from a liberal arts degree can lead into tech fields).
Others have specialized degrees and licenses you’ll need. Here are some examples of consumer service jobs that require some sort of licensing:
- Medical and Healthcare Services:
- Doctor (M.D. or D.O.)
- Nurse (R.N., L.P.N., N.P.)
- Legal Services:
- Lawyer (requires passing the bar exam)
- Paralegal (may require certification)
- Personal Care and Beauty Services:
- Massage Therapist
- Construction and Home Improvement Services:
- HVAC Technician
- Financial and Investment Services:
- Financial Advisor (may require licensing or certification)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Real Estate Services:
- Real Estate Agent or Broker
- Education and Tutoring Services:
- Teacher (requires state teaching certification)
- Childcare Provider (may require certification or licensing)
- Preschool Teacher (may require certification)
- Transportation Services:
- Commercial Driver (e.g., truck driver, bus driver)
Is consumer services right for you?
Here are some of the ways to figure out what you actually need for a career in consumer services:
- Find an entry-level position: Since many customer service jobs don’t require an education, it’s pretty easy to get one and see if it’s a positive experience. If you DO decide to move forward in a consumer service industry, you’ll also have valuable experience to put on your resume, even if you pursue a formal education.
- Think about work-life balance: Many consumer service jobs happen in-person (not remote), and chances are, some will always stay that way. Some consumer service careers (like nursing) have long hours or shift work that can interfere with your personal life. Make sure you consider this.
- Look for placement programs or new-grad recruitment: A lot of consumer service companies and industries try to recruit high school graduates, so you can use these to pivot into an entry-level position and even get job training.
- Do informational interviews with people working there: You can use the experience of others at consumer service companies to evaluate whether various industries would be a good choice for you.
- Research the money: Unfortunately, consumer services jobs that are easy to get into are often also lower-paying. Researching the average salary and the best-paying jobs in your fields of interests makes sense (you can use sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn Premium, OR ask people in your informational interviews)
- Look for opportunities for professional growth: A career is more than just your next job. As you look into consumer service roles, ask about professional development and professional growth opportunities. You want a job that can lead to higher salaries as you grow!
How to figure out your consumer services skills
It’s up to you to figure out what each field needs. One cool hack you can try is to go on LinkedIn and do a “People” search. Type in a job you’re interested in and click “people” on the LinkedIn search bar.
This will show you people on LinkedIn who work in these fields. You can also get ideas from typing in things you like to do like “customer service” or “grant writing.”
See what the people WHO ARE ACTUALLY DOING THOSE JOBS did for education. If you’re really brave, you could even message them and ask for an informational interview.
Here are some more LinkedIn hacks to help with your career exploration:
DO be careful getting into overpriced degrees for consumer services jobs. If you’re going to school, make sure you ACTUALLY need that degree. And don’t get $400k in debt only to realize that the job pays $35,000 a year.
I’ve seen it happen WAY too often.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Consumer Services as a Career Path
Advantages of Consumer Services Career Path
Tons of opportunities
Entry level possibilities
Work with people!
New jobs are being created with new tech
Make people’s life better
Growth and advancement
Opportunities for self-employment
|Some fields are threatened by tech change
If you don’t like people 🙁
Not always 9-5
Some work holidays, weekends
Handling customers who are upset
Some jobs are low-paying
Starting your own consumer services business
The one final thing I should mention is that a lot of consumer services jobs lend themselves well to entrepreneurship! In fact, a lot of them are even businesses that you can start with no money.
That means that if you’re considering consumer services as a career AND you’re entrepreneurial, you probably have a superpower. Because if you can build a profitable consumer services businesses, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank! 💰💰
At the end of the day, is consumer services a good career path?
I’m going to say HECK YES! (for the most part). A lot of the jobs in consumer services industry are in-demand and future proof. In many cases you can get started with little to no money, or even get paid to learn (think electrician apprentice or jr architect).
As you grow your career in consumer services, you’ll be able to focus on where the money is and lean into that–especially if you’re an entrepreneur at heart.
And with a ton of opportunities and a chance to make a difference in people’s lives, a lot of people would enjoy consumer services.
Now Read: 10 Secrets to Live a Rich Life
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