Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
The North American Industry Classification Manual defines the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services sector as “establishments that specialize in performing professional, scientific and technical activities for others.” Lucky for us they go on to explain that establishments in this sector use processes where human capital is the major input. “Establishments rely on employee skills and knowledge to deliver expertise to clients.” In 2012 there were 7.89 million jobs in professional, scientific and technical services.
Most of the professional occupations that require specialized degree training have employment somewhere among these services, although teaching and medicine are not in this sector. Architecture and Engineering Services establishments employ many architects and engineers and some other professional occupations like surveyor. The close association between architectural services and architects makes it easy to forget the one is a firm selling a service and the other is a person with a career and an occupation. It is the same way for legal services and lawyers; computer design services and computer software engineers. Other types of professional service establishments are associated with other professional occupations: accountants, management consultants, graphic designers, interior designers, life science researchers, physical science researchers, veterinarians and others.
Professional service employment has been expanding at faster rates than national employment generally going back to 1990. Part of the increase of jobs in these sectors results from the decline in manufacturing that need professional services. For example, manufacturing needs engineers but the decline of manufacturing puts pressure on engineers to move into professional service firms and sell services to contracting clients rather than perform engineering services as employees of manufacturing firms.
The Big Four of Professional Services
Establishments doing computer systems design services, architecture and engineering services, legal services and management consulting services all have over a million jobs. Computer systems design and related services is the biggest employer with 1.62 million jobs in 2012, but jobs have more than tripled since 1990 when employment was only 410 thousand.
Architecture and engineering services was the biggest of the professional services until 2008, but two years of decline leaves it in second place among professional services with 1.323 million jobs in 2012. About 65 percent of architects and landscape architects work in this sector, but only around a third of engineering jobs are in engineering firms. The largest share of engineers continues to work in the manufacturing industry. Because of the manufacturing decline more engineers are finding jobs in this sector.
Legal service jobs are growing at a slower rate than the national average which has dropped them into a third place tie with management consulting in professional service jobs. People would appreciate lawyers more if they would think about the different legal specialties: bankruptcy, divorce, crime, personal injury, medical malpractice. As we can see many lawyers spend their professional life in the middle of somebody else’s argument. Bickering, wrangling, hectoring fill their days.
Arguments and other legal business employed 1.12 million in the legal services sector in 2012. An average of 30 percent of the jobs at legal services firms are actually lawyers, which is about 370 thousand lawyers in legal services firms. Some of the bigger firms creep up to 40 percent lawyers, but 30 percent is average. Other lawyers work for business and government and another large group is classified as self employed and therefore not part of establishment data.
Management consulting employment has tripled since 1990 with a growth rate three times the national average. It was just behind legal services in 2008 with a million jobs, but now it has 1.12 million jobs the same as legal services.
Management analyst is by far the most important professional occupation in management consulting with 139.7 thousand jobs and a higher growth rate than national employment. Other professionals like accountant, computer programmers, business operations specialists work here but they typically have a smaller share of the jobs.
The manual of Standard Occupational Classifications describes management analysts as people who “Conduct organizational studies and evaluations, design systems and procedures, conduct work simplifications and measurement studies, and prepare operations and procedures manuals to assist management in operating more efficiently and effectively.”
Accounting, Bookkeeping, Tax Preparation and Payroll Services
Accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation and payroll services firms have 912.7 thousand jobs with 410.1 thousand of the jobs in specialized CPA firms. CPA jobs at accounting firms are growing but jobs at specialized tax preparation and payroll service firms are growing faster, much faster.
Tax preparation firms like H & R Block go into this sub-sector so that tax preparation gets counted as professional employment even though tax preparation firms typically run their own training programs and Certified Public Accountants are not necessary. Having employees complicates finances and now payroll processing firms are available to do payroll processing. Other types of clerical or detail work may go along with tax preparation and payroll processing, but these firms do not offer the services of CPA’s. Employment at non-CPA firms is now more than CPA firms.
The Smaller Four
Scientific Research services employed 637.8 thousand in 2012. Over 90 percent of this employment is in physical, engineering and life sciences research with humanities and social science research the rest. The professional jobs tend to require a master’s degree or Ph.D. in specialized work like chemistry, microbiology, or biophysics. Research services have more occupations requiring doctorate degrees than any of the other professional, scientific, and technical services industries. There are also a number of technician jobs that require at least an associate’s degree, but graduate degrees are necessary for much of the work.
The sector advertising and related services includes public relations agencies and media representatives in addition to firms creating and conducting advertising campaigns. Just over 429.5 thousand worked here in 2012. Advertising jobs overlap with many of the same occupations as publishing and broadcasting, but also specialized design mentioned below, with art and design jobs as multimedia artists, graphic designers, writers and authors.
Specialized design services employed 116.2 thousand in 2012 with most of their professional employment as graphic designers with 25,140 jobs and interior designers 16,250 jobs. Graphic designers need computer skills to go with creative skills to produce appealing and attracting layout for print media. Industrial designers help in the development of products that meet customer needs. Products vary from children’s toys, home appliances, medical equipment and similar products.
The well known categories of professional services are behind us. The few smaller services are bundled into a category, other. The biggest of these remainders in terms of employment is veterinary services with 306.1 thousand jobs. That figure is up from 177.5 thousand in 1990. Staffing at veterinary service firms shows 72 percent of jobs as veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants and non-farm animal caretakers.
Another 303.4 thousand are employed in professional loose ends: 106 thousand jobs in market research, polling and public opinion firms, 68.1 thousand jobs in photographic service firms which employ more than 36.9 thousand professional photographers. A few thousand more jobs at appraisal firms, arbitration services, and weather services round out the professional jobs in these sub sectors.
Total the career employment needing college degree skills in all the professional, scientific and technical services industries and it comes to 3.9 million jobs. These are jobs that typically require at least baccalaureate degree training for entry, but time, and on-the-job experience helps to perfect and enhance entry skills. Developing new skills and the chance for advancement go with these professional jobs. Lawyer, programmer, network administrator, systems analyst, architect, engineer, surveyor, accountant, management analyst, graphic designer, writer, scientific researcher, veterinarian, photographer are all important jobs in professional services.
Professional services jobs requiring college degree skills make up 48.3 percent of all jobs in professional services. Other jobs are jobs supporting the work sold to clients. For example, Office and Administrative Support occupations average 21.5 percent across all professional services. These are the jobs like receptionist, office clerk and secretary that make up office work in all industries as well as service providing industries. Managerial positions average seven percent of staffing at professional, scientific and technical firms.
Remember that education has 8.1 million career and professional jobs, but only 3.7 million here. However, professional services have the second highest number of jobs requiring college degree skills of any of the service industries. None of health care, information services, finance and insurance services have as many college degree jobs as either professional services or education. All levels of government, federal, state and local, have many jobs requiring college degree skills, but government jobs outside of education do not have as many professional jobs as either education or professional services.
Professional services have 7.89 million jobs. Combining education and professional services employment brings us to 22.5 million services jobs. With a total of 115.3 million service jobs we’ve got 92.8 million more service jobs to fill, but not to worry, we have 16 other sub sectors of services and service employment. There are jobs in health care, finance and insurance and information services among them.