Professional Services Report
A high-growth industry transcending disruption
This is the fourth in a series of reports that set out to analyze the major shifts occurring in industries critical to the Los Angeles Basin, quanitfying their economic impact and identifying the jobs that have the brightest future for community college students in the region.
The professional services industry is a major economic driver in the regional economy. With human creativity, problem solving and critical thinking as their backbone, many jobs in this industry have been largely insulated from disruption by technological advances and automation. Overall, 50,680 total job openings will be created in the industry in the Los Angeles Basin (Los Angeles and Orange counties) over the next five years, with employers seeking to fill many of those openings with middle-skill workers.
There is some urgency for the creation and expansion of community college programs targeting the professional services industry. A looming workforce shortage appears to be on the horizon. Based on regional community college completions, there could be an undersupply of 2,000 workers each year to fill job openings in the region through 2021. More than 6,300 annual openings are projected for middle-skill occupations in the industry. Yet, community college completions only totaled about 4,300 awards in the 2016-17 academic year.
The professional services industry generates $175.6 billion in economic output annually in the Los Angeles Basin, accounting for nearly 12 percent of the gross regional product.
More than half of employment in professional services falls into three subsectors: management and technical consulting services, legal services, and accounting and bookkeeping.
Professional services employment is two times greater in Los Angeles County than Orange County, with 262,800 payroll employees compared to 120,500 payroll employees in Orange County.
There are more than 300,000 contingent professional service workers in the Los Angeles Basin; almost equivalent to the number of payroll employees in the region, and the gig economy workforce is growing.
Where will the jobs be?
Middle-skill occupations on the upswing
Professional services employees typically earn higher-than-average wages compared to the regional economy. Professional services employees earn, on average, $65,030, more than the regional average across all industries.
A large share of the professional services workforce in the region skews younger; 53 percent of workers are 25-44 years old, and less than 20 percent are 55 years or older.
There is an undersupply of community college students to fill jobs in administration and support, veterinary medicine, environmental science, and computers and design.
High-growth jobs include network and computer systems administrators, secretaries and administrative assistants, veterinary technologists and technicians, and environmental science and protection technicians.
Jobs with a bright future
Within professional services, occupations were identified that are fast growing, offer rewarding career paths and are well paid. All 15 occupations are middle-skill, requiring some education or training beyond a high school
diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree.
What they do: Design or create graphics for specific commercial or promotional needs.
Paralegals & Legal Assistants
What they do: Assist lawyers by investigating facts, preparing legal documents or researching legal precedent.
Secretaries & Administrative Assistants, except Legal, Medical and Executive
What they do: Perform administrative functions such as correspondence, appointments and maintaining files.
What they do: Design, create and modify websites.
Network & Computer Systems Administrators
What they do: Install, configure and support an organization’s local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN) and internet systems.
What they do: Prepare tax returns for individuals or small businesses.
Bill & Account Collectors
What they do: Locate and notify customers of delinquent accounts to solicit payments.
Veterinary Technologists & Technicians
What they do: Perform medical tests for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in animals.
Computer User Support Specialists
What they do: Provide technical assistance to computer users.
Architectural & Civil Drafters
What they do: Prepare drawings of architectural and structural features for civil engineering projects.
Interpreters & Translators
What they do: Interpret oral or sign language, or translate written text from one language into another.
Payroll & Timekeeping Clerks
What they do: Compile and record employee time and payroll data.
Construction & Building Inspectors
What they do: Inspect structures to determine structural soundness and compliance with specifications and regulations.
Environmental Science & Protection Technicians, including Health
What they do: Perform laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution.
What they do: Apply principles of civil engineering to the construction and maintenance of structures and facilities.
Professional Services Jobs on the Rise
As the industry undergoes further technological transformation, occupations based on non-automatable, knowledge-heavy competencies are primed to take off. Opportunities are expected to flourish in the technology-based subsectors.
How professional services wages stack up
These professional services jobs pay solid wages and have a bright future for community college students in the region. They can support a family and improve standards of living.
Connecting Job Seekers
Los Angeles County America’s Job Centers, also known as WorkSource Centers, serve over 250,000 individuals each year and assist clients with accessing training providers in the community. These one-stop centers are overseen by seven Workforce Development Boards (WDBs). Two WDBs provided data for this report. In total, 815 participants received training through 20 programs related to professional services. Programs with the most participants include:
- Computer skills/use
- Accounting and bookkeeping