What are Professional Services?

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

The professional services sector consists of people selling intangible assets to help customers manage their business or improve a specific part of their business. Providers of professional services impart expert knowledge about niche business areas, such as finance or law, allowing the business owners to concentrate on delivering their core services.

Although consultants can be classed as being in the professional services sector, many professional service providers take responsibility for the end result as well as giving advice.

What are examples of professional services?

Professional service providers can be anyone who sells specialised knowledge to businesses.

  • Financial Services – Almost everyone in the financial sector can be recognised as a provider of professional services, including accountants, financial advisers and tax advisers. Financial professionals are not generally selling specific products; they are selling their acquired knowledge of the financial markets to clients.
  • Engineering – Engineers use science, mathematics and technology to solve real-world problems. There are six major branches of engineering – electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, geotechnical and management.
  • Architecture – Architects design and plan buildings and other structures, using creative vision and technical skills. Architectural projects can range in scale from something as small as an extra room for an existing house to something as large as a skyscraper or as vast as an entire neighbourhood.
  • Legal services – Lawyers and other legal professionals provide professional services including advice on legal matters and representing people in court. Barristers and solicitors are lawyers with different qualifications and areas of expertise.
  • Creative and marketing services – Marketers and other creatives including advertising professionals, PR consultants, copywriters and digital marketers all provide professional services to businesses. Marketing executives utilise a range of professional skills to promote products, services and ideas for businesses.

How to get started in professional services

Getting started in financial services

Anyone considering a career in financial services usually comes from a mathematical background. However, it is not always necessary to achieve university-level qualifications. Many financial sector employers offer school leaver programmes for young people entering the workplace straight after A Levels. These provide practical on-the-job training and the chance to earn while you learn. Graduate level positions typically have higher starting salaries. Certain financial careers require specific formal qualifications which can be earned while working, such as a recognised accountancy qualification. Some employers offer apprenticeships and a few allow candidates to study for a degree on the side while working.

Getting started in engineering

Engineering is a specialised sector requiring specific qualifications and experience. There are many different engineer types and each path requires a formal education in the specific area of expertise. Undergraduate degree courses include general engineering and more specialised courses focusing on one specific discipline. Engineers who wish to apply for Chartered Status will also need to complete a master’s degree. To qualify for an engineering degree, candidates will usually need A Levels in mathematics and at least one of the physical sciences, or a foundation degree in engineering.

Getting started in architecture

Architects must be licensed to be able to work and must have all the relevant qualifications and experience to apply for a license. In the UK, these include completing a five-year architecture degree course recognised by the Architects Registration Board. Practical work experience and training is also a requirement. Architecture apprenticeships represent another way into the field, combining practical on-the-job training with formal qualifications. Architects must then pursue at least a year of practical work experience and another specialised university course such as MArch, BArch or Diploma, followed by a final year of training before they can take their final exam and become licensed to practice.

There are several roles within the legal services profession, each of which requires varying degrees of qualifications and experience. To become a qualified lawyer takes a minimum of six years. This includes a three-year undergraduate degree course. Graduates from other subjects wanting to become lawyers can take a further one-year GDL conversion course. Barristers then need to spend a further year taking their BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) and a final year of pupillage in Chambers. Solicitors must take a one-year LPC (Legal Practice Course), followed by a two-year Professional Skills course and two years of training experience within a law firm.

Getting started in creative and marketing services

There are many different ways to get started in a career in creative and marketing services. Experience is often held in higher regard than formal qualifications. Although many employers will look favourably on those with a degree in marketing, qualifications in related subjects such as business, psychology, IT, mathematics and the arts are also valuable. Internships and entry-level positions with digital agencies provide a good jumping-off point. Many people start their careers in creative and marketing services by registering as self-employed and working freelance, building up a portfolio of work they can use to demonstrate their experience and professional expertise.

Getting started with Square

There are various tools and resources available that can help you to set up a professional services business and take payments as you go. For help with how to price professional services, Square Invoices lets you invoice clients quickly and accurately from anywhere, maintaining detailed records of all transactions. Customers receive a seamless service while you benefit from faster payments and smart financial management software.

Square Virtual Terminal allows you to take card payments over the telephone or online, turning your home computer or mobile device into a remote payment card terminal.

Square Appointments software is designed to simplify scheduling, facilitating online booking and managing availability automatically. It can also be used to maximise your point-of-sale, including sending invoices and maintaining records.