Professional Services Spotlight

The Professional Services Industry in the United States


Professional services firms in the United States generated nearly $2 trillion in combined revenue in 2018 (an 11 percent increase from 2017). That same year, the U.S. professional services industry included 9.4 million jobs spread out over 1.2 million firms. In 2017, North America was the largest region in the professional services market, accounting for about 37 percent of the global market share. The world’s leading professional services companies are located in the United States to serve the large and dynamic U.S. corporate sector.

The United States features a transparent, stable regulatory environment, strong intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, and a reliable judicial system. Together with a highly skilled workforce and intellectual leadership from the boardroom to the classroom, demand for professional services in the United States is unrivaled. By the end of 2018, foreign direct investment in the professional services industry was nearly $749 billion, directly supporting 1.4 million U.S. jobs.

Industry Subsectors

Accounting: Firms in this subsector generated more than $180 billion in revenue in 2018 (a 4 percent increase from 2017). Firms in this subsector provided payroll services, financial auditing services, tax preparation services, and other consulting services for individuals and corporate clients. The subsector's 144,500 firms employ 1.2 million professionals (2018).   

Architectural services: This subsector generated more than $77 billion in revenue in 2018 (a 4 percent increase from the prior year), with a majority of that revenue generated from non-residential construction. This subsector includes firms primarily engaged in planning and design of residential, institutional, leisure, commercial and industrial buildings and structures. As with engineering firms, many architectural firms are small, niche companies that typically complement the work of larger U.S. firms with global footprints. In 2018, 138,000 jobs were directly supported by the subsector's 24,100 firms.  

Engineering services: This subsector generated $262 billion in revenue in 2018 (a 6 percent increase from the prior year), with a majority of that revenue generated from industrial and manufacturing engineering. This subsector also includes commercial and institutional architecture, transportation infrastructure, and power generation and distribution activities. Firms in this subsector are primarily engaged in the design, development, and utilization of machines, materials, instruments, structures, processes, and systems. Engineering services include the preparation of feasibility studies and preliminary and final plans and designs, the provision of technical advice and assistance during the construction or installation phase, and the inspection and evaluation of engineering projects. In 2018, 738,100 jobs were directly supported by the subsector's 75,600 firms. 

Legal services: Legal services generated $327 billion in revenue during 2018 (a 12 percent increase from the prior year). Firms in this sector provided a variety of legal services including litigation support, general corporate services, plaintiff and defense work for individuals and companies, patent agent services, paralegal services, and process serving services. In 2018, 1.1 million jobs were directly supported by the subsector's 190,700 firms. 

Management consulting: This subsector generated $328 billion in revenue in 2018 (a 7 percent increase from the previous year). Firms provided consulting services in administrative and general management; human resources; marketing; process, physical distribution, and logistics; environmental; and other scientific and technical services. In 2018, 1.4 million jobs were directly supported by the subsector's 265,100 firms. 

Prepared in collaboration with the International Trade Administration's Industry & Analysis Unit (I&A)

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