Trading & Services

The trades and services industry makes up a significant part of the American economy, but  it’s an industry where many are unfamiliar with the vast range of career opportunities available!

The trades and services industry comprises several sectors that contribute to the export of professional services internationally.

These services promote America as a place to visit or support Americans taking their valuable knowledge and skills elsewhere.

It also accounts for importing and exporting goods to and from the United States, particularly mined resources and agricultural produce.

Some of the biggest trades and services areas within the industry include:

  • Education Related Services. (including international study).
  • Travel Related Services.
  • Financial Services & Technology.
  • Business Services (including IT).
  • Energy and Mining Services.
  • Agriculture and premium foods.

The United States is considered a world-class provider of a range of services, like the ones above, which help to keep us competitive in a global market economy. It also allows professionals to learn and engage on an international level to gain new ideas that can better support American communities in positive ways.

The types of career pathways available across the industry are vast, but a core component is customer service. As pretty much all of these trades and service sectors focus on supporting others, customer service is a vital skill to engage, guide and deliver a positive experience to a wide range of individuals.

Because the range of sectors is so diverse, there can be lots of variety to build a career in the industry. Exciting careers exist both nationally throughout the states and overseas.

Here are a few key reasons why you might choose to work in the trades and services industry:

  • Interesting work supporting America’s trade and investment development at a global level.
  • Meeting and networking with people from all over the world.
  • Opportunity to work internationally and travel.

Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, with many different opportunities to start building a budding career.

Whichever segment interests you, there are multiple ways to begin exploring this exciting industry!

What You Could Do

Job roles in the industry are varied, and there’s no clearly defined pathway into many of these careers.

The best way to learn more and help form decisions about the roles available and what you might be suited for is to conduct as much research as you can and build a profile from there.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could pursue:

  • Trade Support Assistant: Trade support assistants can work across different sectors and many will be specialized in one area. Working under a Senior Trader or Investment Manager, trade support assistants help with client relations, investment strategy, reporting, and risk mitigation. The role has a range of duties and responsibilities and is usually stationed within a business, finance, or accounting department. The role requires a large amount of specialist knowledge alongside incredible administrative skills.
  • International Student Recruitment Officer: International student recruitment officers work across a portfolio of countries to promote, guide, and advise potential students on studying either within America generally or for a specific university. They need specialist knowledge of the American education system, as well as knowledge about visas, international student finance, and course requirements across a range of subjects. They act as the first point of contact for students wishing to travel to America to attain their further and higher education qualifications. They usually also assist with helping new students settle in and find their feet in their new country.
  • Import Export Officer: Import Export Officers verify and maintain incoming and outgoing goods within a market segment. This might be for agriculture and food products or other valuable materials such as mined goods and products. They help prepare goods for despatch, arrange international clearance, transport and collect imported cargo from customs. The role requires excellent import/export knowledge for not only the sending countries but the receiving countries, and you’ll need exceptional attention to detail to ensure deliveries are carried out without any issues.
  • Tourism Officer: One of the core sectors within trades and services is recreational travel and tourism. Tourism officers can work for the country or states and work to promote and attract travelers to visit various American states. They work on PR and related activities at a global level, building international partnerships and working with local governments to build a positive reputation that encourages people to travel to the country/state.
  • Services Trade Policy Officer: All sectors within trades and services are regulated and required to adhere to policies and legal requirements. Services trade policy officers work to help develop policies and legal requirements for specific sectors to ensure everyone works safely, positively, and beneficially for all involved. The role works closely with local, national, and international governments to stay on top of global developments and ensures developed policies are a fair reflection of international markets while still allowing workers in each sector to do a good job.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface!

As with many other industries, many additional support roles keep this industry moving, including administrative, accounting, marketing, human resources, and IT professionals.

Graduate Outcomes & Gender Split

The Graduates Outcome Survey tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

While there is no set degree subject you should study to get into this industry, and what you choose to study will also be dependent on the sector you want to move into, there are some great options out there to get started with a career in trades and services. These include:

  • Consumer Sciences
  • Business and Management
  • Economics and Finance

The National Association of Colleges and Employers tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

Here’s a look at recent outcomes data for graduates in 2019:

  • Consumer Sciences Studies Graduates in full-time employment: 43.9%
  • Business and Management Graduates in full-time employment: 68.9%
  • Economics and Finance Graduates in full-time employment: 77.5%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time and/or who may have continued to higher studies; these are promising percentages!

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within.

There is little information about the percentages of men and women working across this industry.

Because the industry is so varied and wide, there will be different pockets of women and men working across the different sectors.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Trade Support Assistant Roles: $55-$67,900
  • Senior Trader Roles: $101-$149,000
  • International Student Recruitment Officer Roles: $48,900-$70,200
  • Tourism Officer Roles: $57,500-$69,000
  • Services and Trades Policy Officer: $100-$151,000

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles.

Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Location, some rural areas may pay less than roles in main cities.

Industry Growth

According to an annual report by the United States International Trade Commission, the states remained the world’s largest services exporter and importer in 2019.

Cross-border services exports totaled $853.3 billion, or 14.1 percent of global services exports and cross-border services imports totaled $564.3 billion, or 9.8 percent of global services imports.

Like many industries, the growth of trades and services has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States International Trade Commission report also indicates a drop in the activity across many of the segments of this sector – particularly across tourism and international education services.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth is still on the rise, as the industry adapts and establishes new business models in order to maintain a high position in the global economy.

According to a recent report, professional and business services added 60,000 jobs in July 2021 and professional and technical services added 43,000 jobs.

As the pandemic subsidies, it is anticipated the industry will see an uptick in growth and jobs, before settling down.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of roles you want to get into.

For example, highly specialised and professional roles will typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, along with some postgraduate qualifications plus experience.

The degree major you choose will also depend on the segment of industry you’re specifically interested in by some good programs to look at include:

  • Consumer Sciences
  • Business and Management
  • Economics and Finance
  • International Relations

Other pathway options might include:

  • Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You can work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience through an apprenticeship in the industry.
  • Work experience once you leave school: You can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in entry-level positions and work your way up over time. Many organizations will also support you to gain further professional qualifications. You’ll need a robust skill set and good grades in Maths and English as a minimum.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you do some research.

Whatever your circumstances, grades, or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some universities are rated higher than others for specific subjects.

Some of the best-rated universities for economics and business include:

  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California–Berkeley
  • Yale University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Chicago

Where to Learn More

You can find out more about different trades and services pathways through professional bodies and organisations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organisations that can help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.