Personal Service Worker
Personal Service Worker
Education and Training: None
Salary: Average—$5.15 to $25 per hour
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Personal service workers help people who are unable to perform certain tasks because of various reasons such as being too busy or too ill. They may stand in line for license renewals, organize retirement parties, index videotape collections, or take elderly people to their doctors' appointments. There are no limits to the sizes or types of jobs personal service workers do. Personal service workers may be self-employed, or they may work for agencies that provide such services.
Some workers specialize in certain services. For instance, a worker who provides stand-in services will wait in line to renew a passport or stay in a house while a new furnace is installed. Other workers who offer organizational services will alphabetize files, set up offices, or arrange garage sales. Some offer personal shopping services. These workers bring ranges of goods to choose from to the clients' homes, or they buy those items requested by the clients. Some agencies offer all of these services.
Education and Training Requirements
Education and training requirements for personal service workers vary according to the tasks to be done. For example, establishing a filing system may call for past office experience, whereas assembling a bookshelf kit may require some carpentry skills. Many personal services simply call for common sense, patience, and a willingness to help. Taking dogs for walks, opening a summer house, waiting for a telephone installer, and buying a funeral wreath fall into this category.
Getting the Job
Interested individuals can get a job as a personal service worker by applying directly to agencies, which are usually located in large cities. Candidates can also check newspaper classifieds and job banks on the Internet, both of which may list positions under "personal assistant," "dispatcher," "messenger," "gal/guy Friday," or "handyman."
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Many young people take part-time personal service jobs while they are studying at college. These jobs are also ideal for retired persons, people who like to set their own work schedules, or workers with minimum skills or experience. Because the work is so varied, the personal service worker benefits from a range of tasks and environments. Some tasks can lead to further interests or changes in occupations. For example, a worker who enjoys assembling a bookshelf kit might decide on a carpentry career; someone who cares for a disabled person might think about the possibility of nursing. Some personal service workers open their own agencies.
The employment outlook is good. However, the number of openings is dependent on the needs and income of the people who want these services. There are a large number of two-career couples who do not have the time for shopping, waiting in lines, keeping house, or other tasks. Their needs will continue to create openings for these workers.
Personal service workers work in many different conditions. They work indoors or outdoors, during the daytime or evening, and at a frantic or a leisurely pace. Beginning service workers should seek the agency with the most suitable working conditions. Stand-in and dispatch services are often physically demanding.
Where to Go for More Information
American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
400 N. Columbus St., Ste. 202
Alexandria, VA 22314
National Association of Professional Organizers
4700 W. Lake Ave.
Glenview, IL 60025
Earnings and Benefits
Most personal service workers are paid by the task or by the hour—from $5.15 to $25 and up per hour—rather than receiving a weekly salary. Earnings depend on the skills required for the job. For example, a worker would be better paid for organizing a home than for collecting laundry from the dry cleaner. Personal service workers must arrange for their own benefits.