Difference Between Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sectors

By Shivank Goel|Updated : November 22nd, 2022

To understand the difference between Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sectors, it is important first to apprehend the contribution of these sectors to the Indian economy. Their difference depends upon the services offered, the type of industries that can come under them, the employer rate, and the procedures they utilize. Industries play a vital role in any country and boost businesses and the world's economy. The different industries and sectors ensure that the country's people are employed and contribute to the growing economy.

Difference Between Primary Secondary and Tertiary Sector PDF

Industries are categorized into primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors based on income levels and economic activities. These characteristics contribute to the difference between the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. In this article, read about the major difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, examples, and their influential role in boosting the country's economy.

Table of Content

Key Difference Between Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sectors

The significant difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sectors is the services they provide. The primary sector generates raw materials from agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry and mining. On the contrary, the secondary sector deals with activities that produce finished products ready for consumption. Moreover, the secondary industry takes the raw materials from the primary sector, which are further used to manufacture the finished products.

Lastly, the tertiary sector is the service sector which delivers services to both primary and secondary sectors. The following table lists the Difference Between the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sectors.

Primary Sector vs Secondary Sector vs Tertiary Sector

Difference Between Primary Secondary and Tertiary Sector


Primary Sector

Secondary Sector

Tertiary Sector


The primary sector includes the basic industries for providing basic materials to other industries.

The secondary sector includes industries that use basic materials to form new and improved materials.

The tertiary sector includes industries that supply the materials made by the secondary industries to the consumers.

Methods Used

Traditional methods, No specific organized procedure was followed.

Modern methods, An organized way of working.

Modern methods and algorithms. Organised and sophisticated logistic tools are used for the processes.

Types of Industries

Fishing, Mining, Agriculture, Animal husbandry, Forestry

Manufacturing Units (small and large)

Finance, Banking, Administration, Hotel, Tourism, Trade, Insurance, Communication

Also referred to as

Agriculture sector or allied services sector

Manufacturing sector

Service sector

Employer Rate

The largest employer rates are found in this sector

A moderate number of employer rates found in this sector

The employment rates are increasing.

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sector of the Indian Economy

The primary sector includes fundamental industries. It is primarily involved in providing raw materials or basic materials to other industries.

  • The primary sector comprises fishing, mining, and agriculture. These industries work on attaining the materials directly from nature.
  • The secondary sector includes the industries which use basic materials to make other advanced materials.
  • For example, manufacturing steel, where raw materials are obtained from the primary sectors, is used to make better materials.
  • These industries use huge machinery and have production plants to produce the finalized product.
  • The tertiary sector includes industries to sell the materials produced by the secondary sectors.
  • The products developed by the secondary sectors are finally supplied to the consumers by the tertiary sectors.
  • It includes finance, insurance, wholesale, banking, real estate, hotels, tourism, and security.
  • Apart from these, there are several other differences between the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary sectors.

> Read: 3 Main Sectors of the Economy

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sectors

The primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors include several industries. The sectors are divided based on their economic activities. All the sectors are essential for the economic development of a country. The variations in the materials and methods used result in the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Below is the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors, along with the examples and benefits of the three sectors. Businesses in India are divided into three major sectors.

Primary Sector

The sector is also known as the agricultural sector. It includes all financial activities linked with extracting and producing natural resources.

  • The primary sector yields goods by exploiting natural resources.
  • It is disorganized and uses standard methodologies.

Secondary Sector

It is also referred to as the industrial sector. It deals with processing raw materials already prepared during the primary sector, e.g., iron ore is the primary industry. Still, the manufacture of steel is a secondary industry.

  • It is a sector that is concerned with manufacturing.
  • The secondary industry converts one good into another by assembling more utility from it.

Tertiary Sector

The third and most advanced sector is the tertiary sector, also known as the service sector. It provides support services to secondary and primary industries. The sector provides valuable services to both sectors for their functioning.

It is an organized sector and utilizes better strategies. The services include Transport, Warehousing, Communication, Advertising, Banking, and Insurance.

UPSC Notes
Antarctic TreatyAnti Dumping Duty
List of Indian National Congress SessionsPrehistoric Period
Indian JudiciaryRaja Ram Mohan Roy


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FAQs on Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sectors

  • The major difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sectors based on types of industries are:

    • The primary sector includes basic industries like fishing, mining, and agriculture
    • The secondary sector has manufacturing industries
    • The tertiary sectors include final point industries like finance, hotel, trade, banking, and tourism
  • The primary sector industry deals with the production of raw materials. The secondary sector develops finished products for consumption from these materials, and the tertiary sector provides essential services to both industries by utilizing better procedures.

  • The tertiary sector, or the service sector, is the largest in India. The Gross Value Added (GVA) at current services sector prices is estimated to be 96.54 lakh crore INR in 2020-21.

  • There is an interrelationship and prominent difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Listed are some examples of occupations that come under the three sectors:

    • Primary sector - Mining, forestry, farming, and fishing. 
    • Secondary sector - Manufacturing, such as the production of automobiles and steel. 
    • Tertiary sector industries - Teaching, finance, banking jobs.
  • The secondary sector is important because it fosters the growth of the Primary and Tertiary sectors. It helps to convert the raw materials into consumer usable products and contributes immensely to the GDP.

  • An important difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sectors is based on the methods they utilize. These include:

    • The primary sector uses traditional techniques and implies unorganized methods of working
    • The secondary sector uses organized ways of working
    • The tertiary sector is very organized and uses logistic tools for functioning.
  • There is a significant difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors regarding employment rates. The primary sectors have maximum employment rates, whereas the secondary sectors have moderate employment rates, and the tertiary sector employment rates have been increasing over the past few years.

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