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Is Consumer Services a Good Career Path? A Complete Guide

Is Consumer Services a Good Career Path A Complete Guide


Consumer services include education, healthcare, insurance, restaurants, and utilities. But is consumer services a good career path? That’s a surprisingly tricky question requiring a more in-depth answer than you might expect. Read on for our full examination…

What are consumer services?

In the U.S., the service sector accounts for over 70 percent of GDP, which makes it the largest sector in the economy. The economy’s service sector is divided into three main parts: business services, public services and consumer services. Business services are targeted at businesses, while public services and consumer services are provided to individuals. Consumer services refers to any intangible service being produced and consumed at the same time. Intangible services are things that have no physical form such as an experience.  Examples of consumer services are all around us, including education, health care, insurance services, restaurants, travel and utilities. But is consumer services a good career path? That’s a more complicated question.

Quick note: consumer services is sometimes confused with customer service, which is the service provided to a customer before, during and after a purchase. A customer is the purchaser of a product, whereas a consumer is the actual user of the product. Consumer services are the provision of services to individuals. 

Finance consumer services refers to the services offered to the final consumers or personal financial advice given to consumers and business owners by financial experts. 

What is the difference between consumer services and consumer goods? 

Consumer goods are tangible products such as jewelry, clothing, food, electronics and cosmetics. You can see or touch them. They can be repaired, replaced, resold and duplicated. Services, on the other hand, are intangible. They cannot be recreated the exact same way multiple times. They are to be enjoyed in the moment, not sold to other parties at later times. Services depend upon the quality of human resources to a greater extent than goods, because they are by definition an interaction between a company and a consumer. Services are perishable, meaning they cannot be stored, transported or used in the future. 

What is the difference between industrial services and consumer services?

Consumer services are distinguished from consumer goods in that they are intangible and non-transferable, unlike consumer goods, which are physical objects that can be resold. Consumer services also differs from industrial services, which are business services provided to organizations or companies. Examples of industrial services are tax consulting services, marketing software services and employee training services. Consumer services, by contrast, are marketed to individuals. Companies that sell haircuts, travel, or leisure are targeting households.

The four main categories of consumer services

  • Retail and wholesale services – Retail and wholesale services refer to businesses that sell goods or services to the public. They are divided into two main categories: retail and wholesale. Retail businesses includes everything from big box stores to mom and pop stores to ecommerce. Wholesalers buy goods from distributors and manufacturers. They sell goods to retailers who in turn sell them to customers. 
  • Leisure and hospitality services – Leisure and Hospitality consumer services are services that provide a certain quality of life for individuals – including food, lodging, event planning, theme parks and recreation. These services are integral to local economies for which tourism is the main industry. For that reason, this sector is sensitive to seasonal fluctuations. The competition between hotel and travel companies is fierce. 
  • Health and social services – Health and social consumer services include any job in the healthcare system. These include jobs at hospitals, doctors’ offices and community health centers. 
  • Education – Education consumer services offer services to students. This can mean anything from elementary school to a university setting. Increasingly, students seek out counseling and other services to help them get the best education possible, making this a fast-growing sector. 

Consumer service stocks took a hit during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-2021. As people become more comfortable traveling and dining outside the home, this trend has somewhat reversed itself, but spending on travel expenses is still below pre-pandemic levels. In 2022, household savings are up — thanks to stimulus payments, lower interest rates, and a better post-pandemic job market — and most of that money is being spent on services rather than goods.

How many jobs are available in consumer services?

Millions of jobs are available in consumer services. Nearly half of all jobs in the U.S. are in consumer services. Consumer service is a large sector of the global economy. Jobs in this category run the gamut from brain surgeons to dry cleaners. One example of consumer services are club goods, or valuable resources that can be enjoyed by many people, such as theme parks or movie theaters. Another example is media, such as music streaming services. More examples include culture – such as museums – information technology, events such as concerts, transportation, insurance, leasing and leisure services such as a spa. 

Some consumer services are even less tangible – for example, creative services such as design and professional services including legal advice.

Consumer services also include educational and medical services, which in America are a mixture of government-funded and private enterprises. 

Therefore different jobs in the consumer services sector include jobs in retail stores, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, hospitals, transportation and many others.

If you are looking for a job that will use your talents and skills to improve consumers’ lives, you should consider a career in the consumer services field. 

What are some jobs in the consumer services field?

In the retail and wholesale category, there are a whole host of available jobs. Retail jobs include salespeople, managers, accountants and engineers. Wholesale jobs include managers, accountants, and logistics professionals. 

In the leisure and hospitality consumer services sector, there are many workers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that it is the fastest-growing sector in the economy. Leisure and hospitality jobs include food service workers, hotel managers, amusement park workers, and recreation professionals. 

In the health and social services sector, there is a wide range of employment opportunities. They include doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, nutritionists, and pharmacists. There are many different types of health and social service jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and clinics. The health and social services sector is rapidly growing in the U.S.

Education jobs include everything from teaching elementary school students or college students to tutoring to college counseling to student loan refinancing. 

What companies are in the consumer services field?

The consumer services industry is a wide, fast-growing field. Some companies in the consumer services field include Amazon, Apple, Walmart, Kasisto, Acorns, Home Depot, Pfizer, The Walt Disney Company, Costco, McDonald’s, Comcast, Starbucks, DocuSign and Lowe’s.

What do consumer services jobs pay?

There is a huge range in terms of the pay scale for consumer service jobs, because the category is so varied. On the lower end, retail sales workers make $30,060 per year on average. Cashiers make $26,780. On the higher end, the average salary for a software engineer is $93,950. An airline pilot makes $198,190. Average pay for nurses varies by state, while pay for doctors varies by specialty. An internal medicine doctor makes around $260,000 per year, while an anesthesiologist makes $409,000 per year on average. (All figures taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 estimates.)

is consumer services a good career path

What are the best paying jobs in consumer services?

Is consumer services a good career path? It depends how you define “good”, but for most people, one of the biggest considerations is pay.

Besides the medical field, some of the best paying consumer services jobs are in financial consumer services. Financial services allow people to save money and make prudent investments. Some of the most sought-after jobs in financial consumer services are economist, accountant, tax examiner, loan officer, financial analyst, auditor and stockbroker. The average private equity associate earns $139,470 per year. Financial managers earn a mean annual wage of $153,460. Personal financial advisors earn a mean annual wage of $119,960. Compliance officers earn a mean annual wage of $75,810. Loan officers earn around $78,000, while accountants average around $83,000. The average hedge fund manager makes $105,451. 

The best paying jobs in retail consumer services are on the lower end, with food service managers earning an average of $63,970, and entertainment managers earning $76,430. 

Consumer service marketing

Marketing consumer services is different from marketing consumer goods. This is because with consumer services, the product is intangible. This makes it more difficult for companies to provide satisfaction. It is imperative for them to satisfy the consumer and do what they expect. Marketing experts propose a 7Ps model for marketing consumer services – products, price, place, promotion, people, process and physical evidence. 

Effectively marketing consumer services requires training staff to provide consistent service. Recruiting and retaining good staff is integral to marketing consumer services; the staff interacts directly with the public.

It is also a challenge to set prices when it comes to consumer services. Intangible aspects of the product – for example, a restaurant’s atmosphere – must be considered when setting prices. Customers also focus on physical elements, such as the restaurant’s cleanliness and interior design. 

Because services do not require intermediaries such as retailers or distributors, the location of the business is integral. Restaurants and retail businesses set up shop in more crowded areas because it attracts more customers. Promotion of a service depends on how the service is being delivered to the consumer. For this reason, businesses need to establish procedures for how to interact with customers, so that interactions can have some degree of uniformity. 

So is consumer services a good career path?

The takeaway here is that “is consumer services a good career path?” isn’t really an answerable question, because it isn’t really a single career path. That said, it encompasses several of what many people would definitely consider good careers. So the bottom line is that if you find yourself asking this question, your first move is to get more specific.

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

“Listening to our clients’ needs, learning their business and understanding their culture is how we present the best talent and provide  a competitive advantage. We place candidates with the character, competencies, commitment, (intellectual) curiosity and courage to make a difference. Our goal is always to go beyond the expected and deliver valuable advice, measurable results and great talent!”

– Janice Reals Ellig

  • Champion of gender parity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Industry expert, speaker, and author
  • Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative
  • Committed board and committee member and philanthropist

T: (212) 688-8671 ext. 226
E: Janice@ElligGroup.com