Why do so many people enjoy and want to work in the tertiary industry?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Industry in developed economies is normally divided into three categories:

  1. Primary: Primary industries produce raw materials. Some examples include agriculture, mining, and lumber.
  2. Secondary: Secondary industries, or manufacturing ones, turn basic raw materials into usable consumer goods, turning wheat into bread, wood into paper or furniture, and metal into dining utensils or cars. 
  3. Tertiary: Tertiary industries provide services, whether in the form of software to run computers, chefs at restaurants to prepare food, or banks to simplify payments. Education, law, tourism, finance, and the arts are examples of tertiary industries.

There are two main reasons many people prefer working in tertiary industries: pay and the appeal of the work itself. Much of the work in primary and secondary industries has limited pay and limited room for advancement, and can be physically arduous or even dangerous. Even worse, given the increasing use of technology, employment in most primary and secondary sectors is either remaining flat or declining.

The tertiary sector is the one adding the greatest number of jobs. These jobs tend to be set in offices or other indoor locations, and do not involve immediate physical danger. They also have the greatest opportunities for promotion and higher wages. Although some entry-level jobs in this sector, such as food service and retail sales, pay badly and provide little scope for creativity, many other tertiary-sector jobs such as teaching, architecture, medicine, video game design, graphic arts, or writing (just to name a few) provide lifelong careers in an intellectually stimulating environment.

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