What are Three Different Types of Industries - Primary, Secondary & Tertiary?

. 8 min read
What are Three Different Types of Industries - Primary, Secondary & Tertiary?

The primary, secondary & tertiary industries represent the different kinds of businesses in a country’s economic setup. These major types of industries differ based on economic activities and income levels as well. In this article, we will discuss the three different types of industries in detail and understand the major differences between them.

In a primary industry, the economic activities usually depend on the environment of that specific region. The economic activities in a primary industry revolve around the usage of the natural resources of the planet like vegetation, water, minerals, earth, etc. In this industry, the major economic activities are harvesting and hunting, fisheries, pastoral activities, mining, agriculture, extraction, and afforestation. The people engaged in working in the primary industry are generally referred to as red-collar workers.

In a secondary industry, the economic activities revolve around adding value to the natural resources by transforming the various raw materials into usable and valuable products. This is done via several processing, manufacturing, and construction industries. The workers belonging to this industry are generally referred to as blue-collar workers.

In a tertiary industry, the major economic activities include exchange and production. Production usually involves the “provision” of a large array of services consumed on a large scale by millions of consumers. When we talk of exchange, this involves transportation, trade, and communication facilities that are often used to overcome distances. The workers belonging to this sector are generally referred to as white-collar professionals.

Now, let’s have a look at the three different types of industries in detail.

1. Primary industry

The primary industry includes the economy that utilises the natural resources of the environment like forestry, agriculture, fishing, and mining. Generally, this particular sector is considered the most crucial in the developing countries & is relatively smaller in the developed nations.

When we talk about developing countries, the primary industry is usually the largest sector. When we speak of an example, livestock farming in Africa is much more important than that in Japan. In a similar way, the whole of Wales depended mainly on mining and is the primary source of the economy there. This is the only sector in which the entire country of Wales can survive.

The massive technological advancements in the various developed countries have made it possible to engage lesser human resources and get most of the work done by mechanical means. This is the reason why a lesser percentage of human workers are required in the developed countries.

The primary industry examples include mining, fishing, mountain engineering industries.

2. Secondary industry

The secondary industry majorly includes those industries which are involved in construction and manufacturing. This industry usually utilises the products from the primary industry to create several other utility products and also engage in their sales and export. Several of these industries produce a lot of waste materials that can lead to a considerable level of environmental issues and cause pollution. Also, this sector requires a large level of energy as many factories and machines are needed to accomplish the works in the secondary industry.

The secondary industry is again divided into the heavy and light industry.

  • The light industry usually requires a relatively smaller quantity of raw materials, lesser power and smaller area. The value of the produced products in the light industries is generally low and very easy to transport. This has a lesser environmental impact, and the most standard activities in this industry are the manufacturing of food, beverages, home and personal products, electronics and clothing.
  • The heavy industry involves several characteristics as heavy and large products. This involves more capital industry as compared to light industry and depends more on the work and investment. Construction, transportation and manufacturing businesses majorly constitute this industry. Some of the examples are petroleum processing, manufacturing of machinery, ships etc. They majorly require equipment and capital. They are also often criticised for their high level of impact that it creates on the environment.

The major examples of secondary industry are the plastic industry, the food industry, home appliances industry, the textile and leather industry, entertainment and gardening industry, personal care and beauty products industry, storage and cleaning industry.

3. Tertiary industry

The tertiary industry majorly consists of the service sector. This would include several activities where the people usually offer their expertise and knowledge for improving productivity, potential, performance and sustainability. The most prominent characteristic of the tertiary sector is the production of several nature services that include advice, care, experiences, access and discussions.

The services may also involve the distribution, transport and sales of goods from the production company to the consumers via different channels. The goods are transformed in this process as in the restaurant industry, where the raw foods are used for cooking several dishes and serving to the consumers. The focus of this industry is more to interact with a lot of people and focus on customer service even more than the transformation of the different kinds of physical goods.

There are several sub-categories of the tertiary industry. Some of the major ones are jotted here:

  • Professional services – Several occupations are included in the tertiary sector that majorly requires special expertise and training in the sciences and arts. Some of the major professional services require specialised professional licenses just like that of the auditors, architects, lawyers, engineers and doctors. The other professional services also involve several specialised businesses supported like a professional offering their services to the companies like tax consulting or IT services. The other professions in this category are dentists, administrators, nurses, pharmacists and surgeons.
  • Telecommunications – This is a sector that deals with the transmission of signs, signals, words, messages, sounds, images or intelligence of any kind through cables, radio, electromagnetic internet and television systems.
  • Franchises – This is the practice of offering the right to use a specific business model and a specific brand for a certain interval of time. For a particular franchise owner, this is an alternative for building commercial chains for the distribution of goods. Several countries have laws that strictly regulate the franchising industry.
  • Public health – This specifically refers to the specialised professional area that concentrates on preventing diseases and helps in prolonging lives and promote human health through several informed decisions and organised efforts. There are several private and public bodies, individuals and communities which dedicatedly work in this specific sector.
tertiary industry colourful word on the wooden background


The different types of industries – primary, secondary and tertiary have their own roles in economic development. They have their part of the contribution in building the GDP of the country. So, none of these three sectors can be ignored under any circumstances, and every country should focus equally on all these sectors for the optimum development of the country.

Also read:

1) How does the transportation industry work?
2) How does the agriculture industry work?
3) How does the finance industry work?
4) How does the hospitality industry work?
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FAQs on types of industries

Q. What is the primary industry? Explain it with an example.

Ans. The primary industry uses natural resources to create revenue. The major primary industry example is the forestry, mining industry and farming. The primary sector also supplies the raw materials to the secondary industry for the production of several other goods.

Q. Explain tertiary industry with an example.

Ans. The tertiary industry majorly entails certain goods that are intangible and are service-oriented. This specific sector involves the various production of services and goods that may or may not transform into some kind of end products. The tertiary industry example is of a restaurant that are providers of different types of food services. The healthcare service providing hospitals are also a major part of the tertiary industry. The financial consultants offering financial advice is also an example of a tertiary industry.

Q. Which industry is the most important of all the three?

Ans. The primary industry is the most crucial for the economic activities towards the early stage of development. However, every industry has its own significance and contributes significantly to the economic growth and progress of a nation.

Q. What are the major differences between the primary and secondary industries?

Ans. The primary industries involve the production and retrieval of raw materials like coal, corn, iron, wood etc. The secondary industries involve the transformation of the raw as well as intermediate materials into different goods like the usage of steel in making cars, the production of textiles etc.

Q. How are all the three industries – primary, secondary and tertiary industries interdependent on each other?

Ans. The three categories of industries – primary, secondary and tertiary are majorly interdependent. The primary sector is majorly involved in dealing with natural products like fishing, agriculture, forestry and dairy. The secondary industry requires the products from the primary sector of its operation to create more products and utilities. The tertiary industry is involved in providing services that market the several products that are created in primary and secondary industries.