Personal Care and Services

Personal Care and Services


The personal care and services industry has origins in early civilizations, such as in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Domestic workers were typically indentured servants, slaves, or serfs, whose children were also born into a life of servitude. The demand for domestic help, such as maids, housekeepers, groundskeepers, and other household staff, increased in England as well as in the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The economy during this time was steady and the middle class was growing. Upper class families also needed domestic workers to help maintain their homes and tend to their everyday needs. Immigration to the United States was at an all-time high during the turn of the 20th century, and domestic positions were among the few jobs available to immigrants.

Starting in the 1920s, the growth of labor-saving devices like washing machines and dish-washing machines reduced the need for domestic help. In the 1960s and 1970s, many women entered the workforce, which reduced the number of domestic workers. Today, families still need domestic workers for housekeeping, babysitting, and pet care, and wealthy families continue to employ maids, housekeepers, nannies, and others for household and child care services.

People have always cared for animals. For example, the ancient Egyptians considered cats to be sacred; they revered and worshiped them, and often mummified them the same way they mummified humans. It has only been in the past 20 or so years, however, that the pet-sitting and dog-walking profession has evolved and the importance of caring for pets has grown. Whereas pet sitting was once just a side job, offering opportunities to make extra money in spare time, it is now a serious profession and offers good job opportunities. Today, pet sitters receive training and certification, and families are often as thorough in interviewing for pet sitters as they are for babysitters. Groups such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Pet Sitters International (PSI) were established in the early 1990s and continue to offer resources and support for pet sitter professionals.

Tree care dates back to early times: Historical records show that the Egyptians replanted trees using a ball of earth and the Greeks treated the wounds in trees. In the 1800s, John Davey, a British arborist who introduced Americans to tree care and conservation, became known as the “tree surgeon.” He published a book, The Tree Doctor, in the early 1900s, and established an arboriculture company in America and a laboratory and tree school in England. Many of today’s tree care principles and practices are based on Davey’s original work. The term arboriculture has been used in England since the 1700s, but it didn’t come to America until 1932, when Charles Irish used the term in his paper “Highlights in the Early History of Arboriculture.” It was then that tree surgeons became known as arborists. Commercial and residential properties always need tree and shrubbery care and maintenance. Tree trimmers and pruners have deep knowledge of different types of trees and the tools and techniques required to care for them. They diagnose the condition of trees and determine what’s needed to improve the health and appearance of the trees. They climb trees and use chain saws, chippers, and stump grinders. They also work in truck-mounted lifts when the trees are near power lines.  

Pest control has also been around since early times. The ancient Sumerians used sulfur to treat insect bites and the Chinese and Egyptians used various herbs and oils to control pests. Rats were a big problem in the Middle Ages and people used extracts from plants and chemicals to kill these pests. Rat catchers became specialized professionals in England in the 1700s; they used traps, chemicals, and specially trained dogs to catch and kill rats. By the 1800s, people were using everything from nicotine to copper to kill rats and bugs. In the 1930s and 1940s, dangerous synthetic compounds such as DDT were used to kill insects. They were sprayed on people and on the environment, and some compounds were known to continue killing the insects for up to 30 years after the application. It was in the 1970s that awareness was raised to the dangers of these pesticides to human life, animals, and the natural environment. Laws were enacted to control pesticide use and restrict and regulate the compounds used in pesticides. Today, exterminators and pest control professionals are guided by science and follow regulations in the use of the least-toxic pesticides.