12 services examples and what services are: a guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 November 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

By reading this article, you're currently making use of a service. Services include the supply of products that consumers engage in to improve their lives, with items on offer ranging from fundamental services that are key to daily life such as telecommunications and utilities to less vital items such as luxury or entertainment goods. This means that fully understanding what classifies as a service can be difficult. In this article, we explain more about services, how they differ from goods and some key services examples.

What is the difference between services and goods?

When considering the difference between goods and services, there are a few factors that bear consideration. Goods are physical items that can be bought and sold with a tangible item present. For example, buying a car is the transfer of a good, as the car is a tangible product that the purchaser makes use of. The same applies to day-to-day purchases such as groceries, hygiene products and domestic appliances.

Services are transactions focused on intangibles. This includes services like insurance, as you aren't buying a physical good when you purchase an insurance policy, instead it's a service you pay for. Another example is a car rental. Although you may think that a car being involved makes a car rental a good, the item isn't changing ownership but rather being temporarily transferred. The service is not the vehicle, but the ability to drive it. To summarise, a service does not result in the permanent ownership of a physical item or good but constitutes the temporary use of a good.

Related: What are the various types of goods? (With examples)

12 service examples

It's easier to understand what services are by looking at service examples. Thanks to the wide range of industries that services affect, many people have employment in the service industry without realising it. Provision of services makes up the vast majority of the global economy, so properly understanding them is key to making the most of your opportunities. Below are 12 services key to the function of modern society, in addition to those that you may not have considered and why many people rely on them:

1. Banking

Banking is arguably the most important service in the modern economy and it's easy to understand why. All of the world's money filters through banks, with business revenues and personal incomes sent to bank accounts while transactions become increasingly cashless. Although paying for banking services is incredibly rare, holding money and allowing you to accrue interest remains a service even without payment. Employees in this industry are responsible for handling transactions, ensuring the security of client accounts and keeping an eye out for potential cases of financial fraud.

Related: How to become a retail banker: a step-by-step guide

2. Insurance

Insurance is another major industry, primarily focused on assuring that clients don't face financial ruin in the event that they find themselves in accidents or incidents that were not their fault. Where you might believe insurance to be a personal product, it's important to remember that the insurance industry also underwrites ventures such as business projects, film productions and even highly specific cases such as insuring football clubs against their players getting injured. Insurance employees are responsible for calculating the cost of policies, processing payouts and investigating incidents leading to claims.

Another example, as mentioned before, is car insurance. It's not a physical item you receive, but a service that the customer pays for. It covers the drivers in the event of an accident or damage to their vehicle. If an incident were to occur, the insurance company would pay the party that's not responsible for it.

Related: List of 14 insurance careers plus salary information

3. Property letting

Letting homes is a major industry. Due to increasing prices of properties, individuals are more commonly turning to companies that let properties to tenants and living in rented accommodation rather than buying homes outright. Furthermore, property letting companies work closely with businesses to ensure that they have an office space in which to work. For many businesses buying office space outright is unfeasible, so the majority of companies instead choose to rent office space. Letting employees negotiate prices with their clients, complete paperwork to let properties out and guide prospective tenants through viewings of properties.

Related: How to become a letting agent in 8 steps (with definition)

4. Teaching and education

Although teaching and education is an industry most commonly offered by the state, it's heavily based on providing a service. Education may be one of the most used services around, with everyone going through the system at some point whether in the private sector or the state schooling system. Employees in the education sector complete administrative tasks such as marking in addition to teaching students and managing staff to ensure a comprehensive provision of education to all students.

Related: 10 teacher career paths: requirements, salaries and duties

5. Childcare

Akin to education, childcare is a fundamental service at the heart of the way that day-to-day life works. Providing young people and infants with support, activities and learning opportunities, childcare focuses on looking after school-aged children outside of their standard educational hours. Childcare employees, such as babysitters, feed the child in their care and stimulate them in a practical way that boosts learning outcomes.

Related: How to become a childcare worker (including skills)

6. Personal training

Personal training is a service that is increasing in popularity as people become more and more health-conscious. This industry focuses on getting long-term health results for clients, pushing them on to fitness goals and aims that they haven't previously been able to attain. A personal trainer is responsible for motivating their clients to achieve their aims, designing customised diet and exercise plans and tracking fitness outcomes in the long run.

Related: How to become a part-time personal trainer in 7 easy steps

7. Car mechanic

Although the role of a mechanic involves offering goods to improve the performance of cars, the primary product they offer is the service of installing parts and repairing cars. A car mechanic is responsible for keeping cars operating at the highest possible level, ensuring that maximum performance and efficiency are achieved by replacing parts and performing routine checks. The installation and repair aspects of the industry separate the services from a simple auto-parts shop that sells goods.

8. Architecture

Architecture is a key service requiring a wealth of expertise, qualifications and an eye for detail. This industry and the services within it are responsible for designing buildings, calculating the forces that they experience in day-to-day life and even designing the smallest aspects of the interior of a property. The main roles of an architect include staying in contact with clients, designing based on a brief and remaining within a budget.

Related: How to become an architect

9. Graphic design

As marketing becomes increasingly digital, graphic design is becoming a much more vital industry. Companies are advertising in digital spaces, with headers and Instagram posts at the heart of marketing campaigns, so having a digital design team on their side is increasingly key to making the most of marketing opportunities. Graphic designers work with a client brief to create specific marketing materials for products or initiatives, often as part of a much wider marketing group including video content and text posts.

10. Legal services

Solicitors, judges and legal advisers are all involved in the legal industry. This industry focuses on ensuring that clients get the help they need in legal cases and that the law is fairly and evenly applied to everyone. Although some rarely consider these roles to be services, they simply focus on a process that's primarily controlled by government bodies. Employment in legal services relies on a specific set of skills and qualifications, often gained through degrees and internships. After all, mistakes in the legal industry have the potential to affect the lives of victims or perpetrators of a crime.

Related: 15 popular law degree jobs (with salaries and duties)

11. Financial advice

Separate from the world of banking, it's the role of financial advisors to guide their clients in a range of financial decisions. These include making investments, where to save their money and offering advice surrounding the predicted direction of financial markets and government policy. A role as a financial adviser includes analysing client financial information, market momentum and making decisions in the best interest of your client.

12. Civil service

Civil servants are those responsible for taking policy recommendations from the government and converting them into tangible actions. These employees of the government are in place to be politically unbiased and carry out their duty regardless of the political party in power. This role's responsibility includes project management, converting broader concepts into tangible solutions and assessing the results of ongoing policy shifts.

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