Wondering what type of company will be right for you? From technology to services, here are 10 types of industries and different job roles in them (with examples) that every student needs to know about.
When choosing a career as a student, there are two major things to consider. It’s important to know both your talents as well as the types of industries you’ll prefer working in. Your talents, whether inborn or acquired, will define what skill sets you’ll gain. And the industry will define what type of company you’ll join as a professional.
Types of Industries: What does this mean in Careers?
A career can be defined in two ways, either by functionality (type of role) or by industry (type of company). What I mean by functionality is what kind of skill sets you apply, such as design, computing or sales, etc. Skill sets commonly include financial acumen like accounting, costing, or engineering acumen like production, quality control, maintenance, design etc.
Types of industries are the different types of activities that create jobs through manufacturing goods, providing services, processing items or fulfilling a demand. For example, hotels fall under hospitality industry, shops fall under retail industry, and so on.
Should You Select an Industry or Create a Skill Set?
Ideally, while making a career, there are two approaches. You either get strong in a function, say marketing, and you are free to move across various industries. For example, a marketing manager can work for a hotel chain, or a toy company. Or you stick to an industry, and move across functionality. For example, a hotelier can either work as reservations manager or as a receptionist.
Using these two approaches, you become either a functional expert or an industry/domain expert. While making a hire, some traditional companies prefer domain/industry expertise, as they feel confident that an individual who worked in a similar industry would gel in their company easily. For example, toy company X, looking for a marketing manager, may hire someone who worked as a salesman at toy company Y.
However, nowadays a lot of companies look for people with domain expertise from diverse industry backgrounds, as they want new ideas and outlook. So, these days, toy company X wants to hire someone who has worked as a marketing manager for a hotel chain.
I would personally advise people to build a good domain knowledge. This will ensure that you are not dependent on any specific industry. Industries have their highs and lows, so individuals should always be on the lookout for new sunrise industries.
10 Different Types of Industries
We can do the most basic classification of industries on the basis of Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB), which can be defined as Oil & Gas, Materials, Industrial, Consumer Goods, Health Care, Consumer Services, Telecommunication, Utilities, Financial, Technology. These industries can be further sub-classified into various categories.
1. Oil & Gas
Oil & Gas is also known as the energy sector. It mainly relates to the extraction of crude oil & natural gas. This extracted oil and gas are further refined and distributed. What you can expect to experience here is visiting exploration sites on land and seas, construction of oil pipe lines, and visiting huge refining complexes. The examples of things they make include petrol, diesel, LPG (gas cylinder we use at home), etc. I have been to an oil exploration site once; the environment is tough yet interesting.
With the growing focus on renewable energy sources like solar and wind, this is an upcoming sector to be in. This sector is mostly dominated by government owned companies like IOC, BP (Bharat Petroleum). There are also very large privately managed cooperation like Reliance Industries, Essar Oil, etc. in this sector.
Industrial sector is what makes things for the manufacturing industry. It deals with the production of goods & services in areas like construction & materials, aero space & defense, industrial goods like packaging, electronics & electrical equipment, engineering machinery and commercial vehicles, transportation & supports services. This sector produces finished goods and usable services for construction and manufacturing industry. Some examples of companies in this sector are Ambuja cement, etc. Other products that industrial sector makes include steel bars, transformers, packaging material, etc.
3. Consumer Goods
While the industrial sector makes things for selling to other companies, the consumer goods sector makes things for selling to people. The consumer goods sector is responsible for producing everyday goods that are consumed by an average consumer. These are range from automobiles, food & beverages, personal care and household goods. Examples include Arvind Mills (clothes), Samsung (washing machines), Coca Cola (soft drinks), etc.
4. Health Care
The health care sector is all about healthcare equipment & services. It also deals with Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology. The health care business is extremely demanding as lives of people are stake. We all know what doctors do, but there is a big industry behind them who support them in doing their job. Some examples include GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, Apollo, Fortis, etc.
5. Consumer Services
Consumer Services industry relates to all services that are intangible in nature, but these play a critical role in our well-being. The services comprise of retail business, media (entertainment, broadcasting and publishing), travel & tourism, which involves services like airlines, hotels, gambling and other recreational services. Some examples of companies in these type of industries include Facebook, Jet Airways, Times of India, McDonald’s, etc.
Telecommunication is an industry that has risen very fast in the last two decades. It deals with all kinds of fixed line and mobile technologies, infrastructure and services. A few examples in this sector include Reliance Jio, Airtel, etc.
Utilities sector is the life line of our civilizations. Basics services like electricity, gas, water, which we sometimes take for granted fall under this sector. Examples include Tata Power, Nuclear Power Corporation of India( NPCIL), Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB), Reliance Power, etc.
8. Financial Services
The financial services sector is the back bone of all businesses, without it nothing functions. It comprises of banking and insurance, real estate and financial services like asset management, consumer finance, investment services etc. Some of the companies in these types of industries include LIC (Life Insurance Corporation), SBI (State Bank of India), ICICI, HDFC, etc.
9. Technology Sector
The technology sector is what everybody want to be in, as it’s bringing the maximum disruptions in today’s businesses. Also known as IT sector. It comprises of computer services, internet, software, hardware, semi-conductors and telecommunication equipment. A few companies in this sector include Microsoft, Infosys, Accenture, TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), Google, etc.
10. Material Sector
Material sector is all chemicals and naturally occurring resources. This sector deals with chemical production, tree-based natural resources like paper, wood, rubber, etc., metal and mining of ores, coal, diamonds, gem stones, etc. Here you can expect to deal with heavy machinery, off-site mining locations, large plantations, dealing with commodity. Mostly very large companies work in these fields. Some examples include Coal India, Vedanta, Arvind Rubber, etc.
How Should Students Select the Right Types of Industries for Themselves?
Making a career for yourself is all about finding the balance of what you like to do, what you can find (and maintain) a job in and what you can earn well in. The best time to start thinking about these things is when you’re a student. This will ensure that you have ample time to make your decision and don’t end up being forced to join whatever company offers you a job in whatever role!
Depending upon the industry, there are various functional departments, which can be classified as Manufacturing & Operations, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, Research & Development, Finance & Accounting, Purchase & Sourcing, Logistics, etc.
Your end goal for choosing a career is to ensure you always have something interesting to do in a field that ideally, never lets you stop earning. A lot people try to find themselves at an intersection of functional practice and industry in their career paths and stick to it. This gives them an edge, as they have developed a strong niche for themselves. However, this sometimes limits the options for growth.
So I would advise you to be more exploratory and experience new functions and types of industries, but this depends upon your comfort level. I have seen people who wanted to stick their industry as they felt secure and comfortable. Most often people don’t want to deviate from their function.
However, people who look beyond their own types of industries and functions often rise up fast and reach top management positions faster. There are several factors which contribute to this, like opportunity and inclination for change and learning, etc.
Know What You Want But Be Flexible
The question of choosing an industry is most prominent when you are about to graduate and you are about to land your first job. A lot of times you may not have an option to do so, but you should always be aware about the possible types of industries and careers, which can help you in making career changes over the period of time.
Choosing an industry is very tricky and most often people are always in a dilemma. Most of the times students who have a choice go by the most popular public opinion. The things you need to consider is demand and supply. You need think objectively and not get swayed by public opinion. For example, engineering was the most preferred career option since the 1980’s, but India produced so many engineers that the supply exceeded the demand many times. Eventually, by the year 2000 engineers found it difficult to find a job in engineering, forcing them to find jobs in other types of industries.
Some Tips for Selecting Types of Industries You Love
My tips to students who are planning to choose an industry or career is are as follows:
- Don’t get swayed by salary figures that you read in the news and media. Do your own research by talking to industry professionals or your college’s placement in-charge.
- Ask yourself which is that field or function you could work tirelessly in and not get bored.
- Don’t over-plan your career path. Keep on the lookout for better opportunities.
- Have an entrepreneurial mindset. In case you are not able to find a job, what skills sets can help you start on your own? If in future, finding a job is going to be difficult as compared to the past, what skill sets should you develop to enable you to still keep earning?
- You are not a failure if you are not able to find a job. Your goal should always be to start on your own even if you are in a job, as job is temporary.
- Try out various study courses to find out what you really enjoy. We often get swayed by others. Instead, try to form opinions by analyzing what is good for you.
- It’s okay if you are not sure what you like. I, too, never knew what I liked for long period of time, but I knew what I didn’t like! You will eventually find your way. Just keep trying new things.
- Always have a plan, even if it does not look like plan. As Peter Thiel says, “It’s better to have bad plan than no plan.”
- If you are not making mistakes, you will not learn. So it’s okay to make a decision as and when the time comes.
- Don’t compare yourself with others. Some people may find financial success early, some find it late and some don’t.
Only thing that will matter is you gave your best shot.
So I hope my guide to different types of industries and jobs in them will help you select what you want to work in. Which industry excites you the most? And which one do you find the most boring? Let us know below or you can tweet me @slubguy!
Abhishek Sareen is a marketing professional with over 16 years of experience. He has extensive experience in international business and currently an independent consultant for steel tube, consumer goods and retail industry.
He is a passionate cyclist and participated in several endurance competitive events like MTB Himalaya. His interests are in behavioral psychology, economics and chess. He is a graduate in Computer Science and an MBA in Marketing. He completed his executive education from IIM-A in 2016 focusing on business strategy.