Consumer services is a broad sector that includes a wide range of careers focused on delivering consumer services and support. This article will explore the various types of consumer services careers, offer examples of consumer services jobs, and help you choose the best job and career path.
Why pursue a career in consumer services?
A career in consumer services offers a plethora of opportunities in just about any industry. There are many potential career paths in consumer services, ranging from entry-level customer service roles to management positions in retail or hospitality.
Additionally, customer service experience helps you build skill sets that can benefit you in virtually any profession. Let’s examine a few good reasons to become a consumer service professional.
Consumer services positions require you to interact with people from various backgrounds, which can help you develop strong interpersonal skills.
There are many career growth and advancement opportunities in the consumer services industry, with many entry-level positions leading to management positions.
Many jobs in consumer services offer flexible work schedules, making it easier to balance work and personal life.
Diverse job opportunities
Numerous types of consumer services jobs are available, allowing you to find a career that aligns with your interests and strengths.
The skills you learn in the consumer services sectors include communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. These are transferable to other industries, making a consumer services role a good starting point for your career.
Consumer services industries are often essential services and tend to offer job stability, particularly during economic downturns.
Consumer services roles play a crucial role in ensuring customer satisfaction and building brand loyalty, making it a meaningful career choice.
Are there any downsides to working in consumer services?
Of course, there are also a few cons to consider when choosing a career path in consumer services. Still, you can overcome most of them with the right skills and mindset.
Some of the most common downsides to working in consumer services include:
Dealing with difficult customers
You probably guessed it, but one of the most significant downsides of working in consumer services is dealing with demanding customers. It can be challenging to remain calm and professional when faced with angry customers, leading to stress and burnout.
Customer service skills, like learning to de-escalate difficult situations, can help here. Employers often offer training that can help you better handle customer complaints. This may include practicing role-playing scenarios with colleagues to build confidence and improve skills.
The ability to manage difficult people and situations is a skill that will serve you well in any career. Problem-solving and customer service skills can also help you improve interpersonal relationships outside the workplace.
Workload and time management
Another potential downside to working in consumer services is managing workload and time effectively. These jobs can require long hours and be hard to balance with competing priorities, depending on the industry and role.
Developing strong time management and organizational skills is essential to overcome these issues. Prioritizing tasks, setting clear goals, and managing expectations with managerial teams and colleagues can alleviate workload pressures.
Managing workload and time effectively also offers an opportunity to showcase your organizational and time management skills. They’re highly desirable skills for any professional pursuit and look great on your resume.
Low pay and few benefits
Some consumer services jobs, particularly entry-level positions, may start with lower pay and fewer benefits than those in other industries. Understand the salary and benefits expectations when choosing where to start your consumer services career. Additional training or education can improve your job prospects and increase your earning potential.
On the upside, some consumer services jobs offer unique benefits, such as flexible schedules, career growth, and advancement opportunities. These perks may offset lower pay in the short term and add to the appeal of some lower-paying customer service jobs.
Choosing the best consumer services career path
Choosing the right consumer services career path requires consideration of one's goals, skills, education, and interests. Many jobs are available in this industry, each requiring a unique set of skills and qualifications.
Before reviewing the different types of consumer services roles you may come across in your job search, let’s differentiate between a few similar terms you’ll likely see:
- Customer service offers assistance and support to customers before, during, and after the purchase process.
- Customer support is a part of customer service focused on providing technical support for products or services.
- Customer experience includes all customer interactions with a company, including marketing, sales, and service. It’s about creating a positive overall impression and building long-term customer relationships.
Below are some examples of different consumer services career paths.
A customer service job involves assisting and supporting customers before, during, and after a purchase. This can take many forms, such as answering questions, handling complaints, processing orders, and providing technical support. Customer service representatives (CSRs) are front-line employees who interact directly with customers, while customer service managers oversee the department and ensure customer needs are met.
Here are some common examples of customer service jobs and what they entail:
Call center representatives might answer customer phone calls with questions about products or services or assist them with billing and account issues.
Retail associates might help customers find in-store products, provide recommendations, and process transactions.
Hotel front desk staff might check guests in and out, provide recommendations for local attractions, and handle guest complaints.
Technical support specialists might help customers troubleshoot software or hardware issues with their products.
The average salary for a customer service job can vary widely depending on the industry, level of work experience, and location. In 2021, most customer service representatives’ yearly income ranged from around $30,000 to just over $46,000.
Excellent communication skills are essential for customer service success, as is the ability to empathize with customers and problem-solve. While customer service jobs don’t always require formal education, many require at least a high school diploma or equivalent and some may prefer or require a college degree.
Additionally, proficiency in certain software or technology platforms may be necessary for technical support or other specialized customer service roles.
Customer support roles provide assistance, guidance, and resolutions for customers needing help with a product or service. These roles differ from those in customer service, which generally focuses on delivering the product or service. Customer support focuses instead on resolving customer issues.
This career path often involves dealing with customers by answering questions, providing technical assistance, and handling complaints. It also may require documenting customer interactions and creating reports on customer feedback to improve a product or service.
The average salary for a customer support job varies depending on the level of experience, industry, and location. But at just over $43,000 annually, it tends to be close to what you can earn as a customer service representative.
You’ll need strong verbal and written communication skills to succeed in a customer support position. You’ll also need good problem-solving abilities, attention to detail, and the ability to work well under pressure. A high school diploma is typically required, but some companies may prefer candidates with an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field.
Customer experience (CX) roles focus on creating a positive overall customer experience across all touchpoints within a company. This includes interactions with customer support, customer service, marketing, salespeople, and other departments that interact with customers.
It’s different from customer support and customer service. Customer support focuses on resolving customer issues and providing technical assistance, and customer service deals with delivering the product or service. CX can encompass marketing, sales, and post-purchase follow-up.
CX also goes beyond customer satisfaction, aiming to create a holistic and memorable experience that builds brand loyalty and advocacy. It considers the emotional and psychological aspects of the customer journey, as well as the functional and practical ones.
As a CX professional, you’ll identify pain points in the customer journey and develop strategies to address them. This creates a seamless and positive experience for customers. You may conduct customer research to understand customer needs and preferences, develop customer personas, design and implement customer-centric processes, and monitor customer feedback.
The average salary for a CX job varies depending on the industry and your experience level and location. On average, a customer experience manager can earn over $100,000 annually in the U.S. in 2023 (though the range typically falls between just over $90,000 and upward of $135,000).
You must have strong communication and interpersonal skills to excel in a CX role. In addition, you must know how to analyze and draw insights from data. You may also need experience with project management, customer research, and user experience design. A bachelor's or master's degree in marketing, business administration, or a related field is typically preferred.
Financial services jobs involve providing financial advice, products, and services to clients. These jobs can include financial advisors, loan officers who evaluate financial needs and help people obtain loans, and bank tellers who perform customer financial transactions.
As with most roles in each consumer services sector, income can vary widely. For example, loan officers earn around $84,000 annually, while bank tellers earn around $36,000 annually. Strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and communication skills are essential for success in these roles. Some may require a bachelor's degree or specific certifications, while others offer on-the-job training.
Consumer services professionals working in education help people make informed decisions about their education, including selecting schools, applying for financial aid, and accessing tutoring and test prep services. Private companies, nonprofits, or government agencies often provide these services.
Examples include education consultants, financial aid advisors, test prep services, and ed tech companies. Salaries vary by job and experience level. Education consultants can earn an average base pay of $52,000 annually, while test prep instructors may start at around $38,000.
You may not need a college degree for an entry-level position. But higher-level roles like those mentioned above may require specialized education (e.g., a bachelor’s degree) to earn the best pay.
Leisure and hospitality
Consumer services professionals in this industry support entertainment-, recreation-, and tourism-related activities. You can find these positions at various businesses, including hotels, restaurants, theme parks, sports facilities, and travel agencies.
One example is a hotel manager. The average salary for this role in the U.S. ranges from about $90,000 to $130,000 annually. A chef is another consumer services role in this field, with a typical annual salary falling within $43,000 to $59,000 annually.
Excellent communication, customer service, and organizational skills are essential for any leisure and hospitality consumer services job, but some requirements vary depending on the role. For example, hotel managers may need a bachelor's degree in hospitality or business and experience in hotel operations and management.
Chefs, on the other hand, may need formal culinary training and experience in kitchen management and menu planning. Entertainment and recreation professionals may need experience in event planning, marketing, and customer service. Travel and tourism professionals may need knowledge of travel destinations and experience in travel planning and booking.
If you pursue a consumer services role in health care, you’ll help people make informed health care decisions. You could work for a health insurance company, health care service provider, or health education and wellness service.
Professionals in these fields are among the higher-paid consumer services professionals, with registered nurses earning around $77,000 annually and medical and health services managers earning around $101,000 each year.
Strong communication, empathy, and problem-solving skills are essential for success in any consumer services role in health care. However, you’ll likely also need the proper education, licensure, and certification to work in your chosen field.
Consulting consumer services provide expert advice to individuals and organizations to solve problems or achieve goals. Management, technology, human resources, and financial consulting are some examples. These jobs are among the better-paid customer service careers.
For example, management consultants earn an average salary of about $95,000 annually, technology consultants earn around $82,000, and human resources consultants bring in closer to $85,000, on average. Necessary education and skills vary depending on the role, but you’ll likely need strong analytical, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Consumer legal professionals assist clients on consumer-related legal issues. They may include paralegals, legal assistants, and legal analysts who support lawyers providing legal services.
Paralegals conduct legal research, draft legal documents, and prepare for trials. Legal assistants focus on administrative tasks, such as organizing client files and scheduling appointments. Legal analysts analyze legal issues and trends to provide insights to lawyers and clients.
The average salary of a paralegal or legal assistant is around $60,000 annually, and most of these professionals have at least an associate degree in paralegal studies or a related field. Depending on the job, you may also need professional certification. Attention to detail, strong communication skills, and legal research abilities are necessary for success in this field.
If you’re excited about the potential of a career in consumer services, the good news is there are plentiful entry-level job opportunities. However, you’ll likely have to put in some extra work to land one of the best-paying jobs in this field.
Let’s start with opportunities you can get into straight out of high school or college. You could work as a customer service representative, a salesperson, or a hospitality associate. These jobs may not pay top dollar, but they're a great way to gain experience.
If you want to land a higher-paying consumer service job, you'll likely need specific knowledge or education under your belt. For example, a health care administrator typically needs a bachelor's degree in health care, business administration, or other related field. And if you want to become a management consultant, you may need a master's degree in business administration (MBA) from a good school.
In addition to degrees, some certifications can help you stand out from the crowd and increase your earning potential. For example, those wanting to work in finance may wish to pursue a chartered financial analyst (CFA) certification. And if you're going to work in project management, you may wish to pursue a project management professional (PMP) certification.
There are plenty of entry-level job opportunities in consumer services, but you may need to invest in your education or pursue certifications to make the big bucks. But don't worry — with hard work and dedication, you can climb the ranks toward a very lucrative career in consumer services.
The consumer services sector offers many opportunities for growth and advancement. The demand for these roles has continued to rise due to population growth, increased consumer spending, and technological advancements.
While the job outlook of the consumer services field may vary depending on your specific career path, many of the skills used in one path can translate well to other areas of consumer services. Strong communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills are essential for success in many consumer services jobs. If you're interested in a career in this field, don't hesitate to explore different paths.
Is a career in consumer services right for you?
A career in consumer services could be an excellent fit for anyone who enjoys helping others and has strong communication and problem-solving skills. Starting in an entry-level position can provide valuable experience and opportunities for advancement, while higher-level positions offer challenging work and competitive pay.
As you weigh the pros and cons of a career in consumer services, consider your skills, interests, and educational goals before choosing a direction. You should also research industry trends to make an informed decision, since this can affect your future in any career.
So, if you're interested in a rewarding and fulfilling career helping others, consumer services could be the right choice for you. Join Handshake to start searching and find a new job today.
- U.S. News and World Report “Customer Service Representative Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Glassdoor.com “Customer Support Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Salary.com “Customer Experience Manager Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Employment and Wages, Loan Officers” (viewed April 2023)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Employment and Wages, Bank Tellers” (viewed April 2023)
- Glassdoor.com “Education Consultant Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Glassdoor.com “Test Prep Teacher Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Salary.com “Hotel Manager Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Salary.com “Chef Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses” (viewed April 2023)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Employment and Wages, Health Services Managers” (viewed April 2023)
- Glassdoor.com “Management Consultant Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Glassdoor.com “Technology Consultant Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Glassdoor.com “Human Resources Consultant Salary” (viewed April 2023)
- Bureau of Labor Statistic “Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegal and Legal Assistants” (viewed April 2023)