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What Does a Service Worker Do?

Customer service representatives are responsible for handling customer questions and complaints.
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  • Written By: Tara Kelley
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
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A service worker is a person who provides service to other people, typically in the areas of comfort, shelter, and food. Service workers can be found in a variety of areas, including food service, customer service, family service, social service, human service, and community service. These individuals can be found working for both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Entry-level service positions typically require only a high school diploma, and individuals usually have the opportunity for advancement in most service-oriented companies.

Food service companies in the United States (US) employ about 21 percent of youth between the ages of 16 and 19 years old. In the for-profit sector, jobs range from flipping burgers to taking orders to serving beverages. Food service workers in the non-profit sector are usually found preparing and serving food in schools. They can also be found working in churches, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. The median salary for a food service worker in 2009 was $8.01 US Dollars (USD) per hour.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, customer service representatives rank among the largest occupations in the US. Making a median salary of $14.36 USD per hour, these individuals answer phones, respond to e-mails, and greet customers. Customer service representatives are found in a wide variety of companies, such as insurance, automobile, and retail companies.

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A family service worker can be found in governmental organizations. These groups include the department of Child and Family Services, and the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Family service workers can also be found working for the Salvation Army, child care facilities, and other similar organizations.

Social service and human service workers usually help people who have social, psychological, emotional, and physical issues. A social service worker might manage a drug abuse program, provide counseling to women in a shelter, or provide job training for a disabled person. Social service workers often work a great deal of hours for a small amount of pay. In 2009, social service assistants made an average of $27,280 USD.

Community service workers generally do not get paid for their work, since they volunteer their time to provide a service to their community. Sometimes the person willingly volunteers, and sometimes the person is required to volunteer for a school project or as a punishment for a crime. Community service workers can be found in schools reading to children, in museums giving tours, in food kitchens serving food, and on the side of the road picking up trash.

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popcorn
Post 8

I believe that every young person should do a stint as a customer service representative as I think it teaches invaluable work skills. Those in customer service learn how to handle people, work on a team and most importantly, and get a sense of the value of money.

I have found that once a teenager starts earning their own keep they tend to handle problems better overall, and often feel more self-confidence as they are earning money for their future.

Often fast food places and shops at the mall are the best places to go when looking for that first job. Also, some places like McDonald’s also offer lucrative college scholarships for teenagers that work for them. It is certainly something to look at.

lonelygod
Post 7

@KaBoom - I always found it shocking too, how rude people could be to those in the customer service industry. I found that while I was working my way through university at a local book store that a lot of people talked down to the people working in the store, assuming they were uneducated or something because they weren't in a full-time career yet.

Our store actually made a point of choosing people working on degrees or that already had one, so that the workers would be more knowledgeable about their area of the store. We even had a man with an MBA working in the business books section because he needed some extra part-time income while remodeling his home and he loved reading.

I think people need to realize that those in the service industry are often doing double duty somewhere else. A little courtesy goes a long way for people making their way up.

indemnifyme
Post 6

@KaBoom - You're right, working in customer service can be a pretty thankless job. I think sometimes people think anyone in the service industry is below them and it's ok to treat them like garbage.

However one interesting thing I've noticed since the recession is that a lot of people who were formerly employed in more prestigious positions now work in the service industry. I notice more adults working as servers at my local diner when before it used to be mostly teenagers. I wonder if people will finally start to be a little polite when they realize it could have been them!

KaBoom
Post 5

One thing no one has mentioned yet is how rude people can be to service workers. I've worked several different jobs in the service industry in both food service and call center customer service. I never cease to be amazed at how rude and unpleasant some people can be to service workers.

I think it's a little ridiculous considering the fact that we all know someone who works as a service worker. I know I wouldn't want anyone to be unpleasant to my friend or family member in the service industry so why behave this way to another person's friend or family member?

cupcake15
Post 4

@Bhutan - That is really nice that you sister cares so much about needy people like that. I am sure they are happy for the legal help. I also wanted to say that working in the field of social work is another great profession that allows you to help people.

Social workers help families deal with the fact that their family member was diagnosed with a devastating disease. They are usually there to support the family and the patient emotionally.

They also get involved in child welfare cases and offer input that affects where the child will be placed. It is really a selfless career that must bring a lot of good to a lot of people. I remember when my mother was dying, the social worker at the hospital was amazing. It felt like I had a friend to talk to. It was really nice.

Bhutan
Post 3

@Subway11 - I know what you mean. I have done charity work with some children’s charities and it is the most amazing experiences that I have ever had. I wanted to add that some family service worker jobs can also be in the field of public interest law.

My sister is a public interest lawyer in New York City. She represents people that have problems with their landlords and are about to be evicted. She defends these people free of charge and helps stop their evictions and usually gets the evictions overturned.

Many of these people are living in rat infested apartments and in really deplorable living conditions. My sister sometimes has to visit her clients in their home to make it easier for them because many have to work irregular hours and cannot visit her office in the middle of the day.

It makes her feel good to help these people and as a matter of fact she was given an award for her service that was presenteed to her by the New York Bar Association. I was really proud of her.

subway11
Post 2

@Mutsy - I know what you mean. I did the same thing while in school and I also had fun and made a lot of friends.

I always wanted to be a youth service worker. I think that it would be great to work in a camp and mentor a lot of young kids while working. This is a really rewarding job that allows you to bond with younger kids and helps them make friends and feel accepted.

Sometimes kids go to camp and really have trouble making friends and I always thought it would be great to help them out so they develop confidence in themselves to continue to make friends even when they leave the camp.

A youth service worker also gets to work for nonprofit organizations that devote their time to enriching the lives of young kids that may lead troubled lives. Sometimes the youth service worker might be the only person in the kid’s life that really makes a positive difference. Many of these kids may be battling problems with teen pregnancy or drugs and really need direction in their lives. It is a very rewarding field whether you decide to work in a regular summer camp or devote you time to a youth related charity.

mutsy
Post 1

I think that many people start out working in a food service industry as a means of gaining skills. I remember working in a fast food restaurant when I was in high school and I really learned a lot about time management and serving customers.

I also learned what happens when an order is incorrect and how it could affect a customer. I used my food service worker resume when I got out of college in order to secure my first high paying job. It helped that I worked while I was in school and the employers really liked that I worked to support myself while in college.

I really liked working in the food service industry because I was able to also learn how to excel in customer service which is not easy to do because I had to learn to put a smile on my face even though I did not feel like it.

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