Tertiary Sector – Concept, areas and examples

We explain what the tertiary sector is, its main areas and examples. In addition, what do the primary, secondary and quaternary sectors consist of.

third sector
The tertiary sector provides specialized support to consumers or companies.

What is the tertiary sector?

The tertiary sector or service sector is called the link in the economic chain that, unlike the previous two economic sectors, is not dedicated to the extraction of raw material or its transformation into consumer goods, but rather to the satisfaction of operational and commercial needs or of any other nature required by both end consumers and other companies and industries.

This sector is often in charge of providing specialized support in the conduct of its operations to both the primary and secondary sectors, especially in matters that do not directly involve the specific economic activity to which they are engaged.

For example, a pharmaceutical industry will require the shipment of its medicines to the people who consume them, and for this it goes to a transport company instead of doing it itself, thus receiving transport services. This is known as outsourcing.

The tertiary sector is by nature extremely diverse and specific, but broadly its three main areas of action are support, distribution and marketing.

  • Medium. Services in solving problems in a specific area, or in obtaining human and technological resources or in the supervision of the operating structure of the various forms of production.
  • Distribution. The transport of both processed goods, raw materials or people, the latter for work, recreational or any other purposes.
  • Commercialization. It is the final step in the production chains, since it consists of taking the final product to its consumers and making it available to the local consumer market. In some cases the latter can be really broad, as with the sale on-line of products to any part of the world.

Examples from the tertiary sector

third sector
Whether for offices, public spaces or factories, cleaning services are needed.

Some examples from the service sector are:

  • Transport companies. Both those in charge of moving raw material from the primary to the secondary sector, as well as those that directly offer travel services to consumers: airlines, maritime lines, bus lines, etc.
  • Book distributors. Once they come off the press, the books must be distributed in the stores and bookstores where they will be bought by their readers. This work is often carried out by a distribution company.
  • Department stores. The goods that a store offers to the public were not made by its staff, but were received for sale after having passed through its entire production chain. Thus, the stores are in charge of providing merchandise sales services.
  • Cleaning companies. Whether for offices, public spaces or factories, cleaning services companies provide an essential task: keeping the spaces clean, orderly, by means of a staff trained in these tasks and equipped with the necessary equipment.
  • Technical or repair services. Those assistance services to repair artifacts, repair structural damage to the home or even to offer decoration changes, etc.
  • Catering services. For the production of events (parties, presentations, exhibitions, etc.), kitchen, beverage and inn services are usually required, for which there are companies available in the market.

Primary sector

primary sector
The primary sector is responsible for the extraction of raw materials.

The primary sector is the one that starts the production chain, through the extraction or obtaining of resources from nature: the raw material. Said raw material is obtained by intervening the environment and often under strict ecological or operational rules that the State has the mission of supervising, since the primary sector usually operates under the figure of the state tender: a legal permit to extract a good or a resource.

Secondary sector

secondary sector
The secondary sector deals with transforming the raw material.

The secondary sector receives the raw material from the primary sector and is in charge of subjecting it to specialized transformation procedures, thus obtaining prepared products ready for consumption, or semi-finished products that will in turn go to another industry in the sector to form part of other products elaborated. It is the industrial sector par excellence, the one in charge of making the things we consume.

Follow in: Secondary sector

Quaternary sector

quaternary sector
The quaternary sector requires highly trained personnel.

The quaternary sector is born from a specialization of the tertiary, since this is the knowledge sector. Its offer is based on services that are impossible to mechanize and that require highly trained personnel with special knowledge, such as science, research and development, financial planning, etc.

These services are demanded by any company in the previous sectors as a method of maximizing or improving their performance, either by incorporating new technologies, correcting their chain of operations, or allowing others to select their personnel or manage their finances.