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Personal Services Careers

Learn about different types of personal service careers, including caregiver, cosmetologist, and housekeeper. Find information related to job duties and requirements, potential employers and salaries.

What Are Some Personal Service Careers?

Personal service refers to any manual or intellectual services performed for a client or customer by a service provider. The exact careers that fit under this definition are vast, though some popular options including caregivers, cosmetologists, personal assistants, and housekeepers. Caregivers provide for their clients' basic needs, such as food, bathing, human interaction, supervision, and more, typically for children, the elderly, or sick. Cosmetologists and other beauty professionals work with clients to cut and style hair, perform manicures, pedicures, and facials, and provide waxing services in a salon or spa environment. Personal assistants perform various basic tasks for their clients, allowing them to focus on other needs throughout the day. Housekeepers clean and organize a living space while performing other basic duties for their clients, such as cooking, doing laundry, and making beds. Learn some important details about careers in the personal services field in the table below:

CosmetologistsPersonal AssistantsHousekeeperCaregiver
Degree Required Certificate, Associate'sCareer training availableHigh School DiplomaHigh School Diploma
Education Field of Study CosmetologyWord processing, administrative assistingN/AN/A
Key Responsibilities Provide personal care and beauty services to clientsPerform various tasks and duties for individuals, like scheduling meetings and booking travelClean houses for clients; develop cleaning schedulesCare for clients, assist clients with various tasks like paying bills, preparing food, and bathing
Licensure Requirements Licensure requiredNot requiredNot requiredVaries by state
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% N/A -2% (for all maids and housekeeping cleaners)2% (for child care workers)
Median Salary (2018)* $24,730 $43,134 (2019)**$23,770 (for all maids and housekeeping cleaners)$23,240 (for child care workers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

What Are the Job Duties of a Nanny or Caregiver?

When you work as a child caregiver, you are responsible for looking after someone else's child for a period of time. You might find a position as a nanny looking after children in a single household. Or you might open your own child care business and look after several children at once. Some of your responsibilities include supervising, feeding, bathing, and entertaining children.

Each state has its own licensing requirements for child care workers. Some states merely require you to have a high school diploma, while others require you to have an associate's or bachelor's degree in child development. If you are interested in obtaining postsecondary education in the field, you might enroll in a childcare certificate or associate's degree program through a community college or vocational school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, child care workers earned a median annual salary of $23,240 in 2018 (www.bls.gov).

How Might I Become a Cosmetologist?

As a cosmetologist, you would be responsible for providing personal beauty care services to clients in a salon or spa. You might become a professional hairstylist, manicurist, esthetician, or barber. Your duties might include cutting, trimming and coloring hair, giving facials, applying makeup, styling wigs, giving manicures, or performing waxing services.

All 50 U.S. states will require you to gain licensure before you can legally work as a cosmetologist. Most states will require you to pass a state-approved training program at a beauty school or community college. Associate of Science in Cosmetology degrees and cosmetology certificate programs are common. According to the BLS, hairdressers, hairstylists, and other cosmetologists held 377,210 jobs in 2018 and earned a median annual salary of $24,730.

What Is a Personal Assistant?

When you work as a personal assistant, your primary goal is to see to the personal duties and daily tasks assigned to you by your employer. Specific duties might include scheduling meetings, answering phone calls, booking travel plans, hiring household staff, or arranging transportation.

You might find a position working for a physically handicapped individual who cannot perform such duties on their own. You might also find a job working for a business executive or celebrity. There are few educational programs for aspiring personal assistants. However, some employers might prefer to hire you if you have some postsecondary education. According to PayScale.com, the middle percentage of personal assistants working in November 2019, earned between $25,000 and $79,000 per year.

What Is the Salary of a Housekeeper?

As a housekeeper or maid, you would be responsible for performing cleaning services for individuals or businesses. You might work with a housekeeping agency and travel from residence to residence, or you might find a staff position within a hotel or other facility. In any instance, your duties may include scrubbing rooms, cleaning linens, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning dishes, and making beds.

There were 1,494,400 housekeepers and maids in the United States in 2018, according to the BLS. The great majority of these individuals worked for hotels and traveler accommodation services, but others worked for personal homes, hospitals, and nursing care facilities. The median annual salary in the field in that year was $23,770.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Janitors and cleaners empty trash and perform sanitation duties for a building, ensuring an organization's employees and clients are able to do business in a clean environment. Most of these professionals need only a high school diploma to find work, and some may even be accepted with less.

Receptionists greet visitors to an office, answering questions and providing directions as needed. They also perform basic clerical duties around their workplace. The minimum education for this position is a high school diploma.

Social and human service assistants help clients and their families identify what kind of help they may need and how to obtain it. They typically require a minimum of a high school diploma, though postsecondary training is often valuable.