What is the Service Industry?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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The service industry is most commonly associated with luxury spending, such as tourism, entertainment venues, restaurants and retail stores. In addition to those types of businesses, however, a multitude of other vital public services are included in this tertiary sector of the economy. Law enforcement officers, social workers, firefighters, medical professionals and postal workers all contribute to a vast service industry that ultimately improves the lives of the people who benefit from it. While not all of these organizations provide a tangible product, as restaurants or retail establishments do, their work is service oriented nonetheless.

Police officers and firefighters are usually employed by the government for the jurisdiction in which they serve. Their salaries are generally paid by tax dollars in common law countries. Risking their lives on a daily basis to provide protection to the public, these brave men and women are a valuable asset to the service industry. Likewise, lawyers and judges work tirelessly to ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld, while social workers may provide aid to the disadvantaged or downtrodden.


Professionals in the medical field, such as doctors, nurses, technicians, physical therapists, medical researchers and scientists, are also an important part of this sector. Many of them care for and heal sick and injured patients. Others devote their time to discovering new and innovative medicines or other forms of treatment to cure disease. Individuals who dedicate their lives to healthcare are usually highly skilled in their specialties, and millions of people each year benefit because of their efforts.

Travel and tourism is also a very important part of the service industry and the economy as a whole. From vacationing families to business executives, virtually everyone reaps the rewards of this sector, either directly or indirectly. Airlines, railways, cruise lines and rental car agencies ensure that most people can explore virtually any part of the world or quickly visit a sick loved one who lives hundreds of miles away. Hotels and resorts provide accommodations for transient guests who are made to feel like they are home, even when traveling abroad. Restaurants offer meals to hungry patrons at virtually all price points and cuisine varieties to please just about every palate.

Each of the businesses and providers within the service industry generally strive to offer impeccable customer service. For example, retail establishments, airlines, restaurants and hotels rely on their abilities to provide outstanding service in order to win repeat business from consumers. Medical professionals are required to provide a high standard of care while treating patients with respect and dignity at a time of vulnerability. Police officers are bound by an oath to serve and protect others. In fact, essentially all areas of the service industry are geared toward providing a better way of life in a variety of ways.


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