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Specialist vs. Expert: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 3, 2023
A specialist is someone highly trained and knowledgeable in a specific field; an expert is someone with comprehensive and authoritative knowledge or skill, not necessarily confined to a single area.

Key Differences

A specialist is an individual who focuses primarily on a particular subject or activity, honing skills and knowledge in that specific domain. An expert, however, may possess a broader set of skills and can be considered an authority in one or multiple areas.
In the professional realm, a specialist often holds certifications or degrees that point to a focus on a particular field, such as medicine or technology. An expert might have similar qualifications but could also earn the title through experience, across multiple fields.
When considering problem-solving, a specialist is the person you'd consult for issues within their specific area of expertise. An expert, conversely, could offer solutions across a wider array of topics, owing to a more comprehensive base of knowledge.
From a linguistic standpoint, the term "specialist" often comes prefixed with the area of specialization, like "IT Specialist." In contrast, "expert" can stand alone or be followed by the field of expertise, such as "expert in wildlife conservation."
In the realm of job roles, a specialist often has a narrower scope of responsibilities, tied closely to their area of specialization. An expert might have a more varied set of duties, reflecting their broader knowledge or skill set.

Comparison Chart


Narrow, focused on a specific field
Broad, can cover multiple areas


Often certified in a specific field
May or may not be certified


Specific to their area
Can address a broader range of issues

Linguistic Usage

Prefixed with area of specialization
Can stand alone or be followed by the field of expertise

Job Responsibilities

Limited to a specific area
Varied, reflects broader knowledge

Specialist and Expert Definitions


One consulted for problems in a specific domain
We need a plumbing specialist.


One consulted for advice on a range of issues
She's a relationship expert.


Highly skilled in a specific activity
He's a chess specialist.


Skillful through extensive experience
She's an expert skier.


Holder of certifications in a specific subject
He's a certified IT specialist.


Possessing special skill or knowledge
He's an expert pianist.


A narrow-scope professional
She's a specialist in ancient languages.


A leading authority in a field
She's an expert in cybersecurity.


One who is devoted to a particular occupation or branch of study or research
An antiquarian who is a specialist in 17th-century Dutch ceramics.


A person with a high degree of skill in or knowledge of a certain subject.


A physician whose practice is limited to a particular branch of medicine or surgery, especially one who is certified by a board of physicians
A specialist in oncology.


Having, involving, or demonstrating skill in or knowledge of a certain subject.


Any of several noncommissioned ranks in the US Army that correspond to that of corporal through sergeant first class.


Extraordinarily capable or knowledgeable.
I am expert at making a simple situation complex.
My cousin is an expert pianist.


A species with narrow habitat or food requirements
Specialists that feed only on carrion.


Characteristic of an expert.
This problem requires expert knowledge.


(British) Specialised, involving detailed knowledge of a restricted topic.


(obsolete) Proven, experienced, veteran.


Someone who is an expert in, or devoted to, some specific branch of study or research.


A person with extensive knowledge or ability in a given subject.
We called in several experts on the subject, but they couldn't reach an agreement.


(medicine) A physician whose practice is limited to a particular branch of medicine or surgery.


(chess) A player ranking just below master.


Any of several non-commissioned ranks corresponding to that of corporal.


Taught by use, practice, or experience, experienced; having facility of operation or performance from practice; knowing and ready from much practice; clever; skillful; as, an expert surgeon; expert in chess or archery.
A valiant and most expert gentleman.
What practice, howsoe'er expertIn fitting aptest words to things . . . Hath power to give thee as thou wert?


An organism that is specialized for a particular environment.
The tree Lepidothamnus laxifolius is a high alpine specialist found in high-altitude bog communities and in scrub.


An expert or experienced person; one instructed by experience; one who has skill, experience, or extensive knowledge in his calling or in any special branch of learning.


A stenotopic species.


A specialist in a particular profession or department of science requiring for its mastery peculiar culture and erudition.


One who devotes himself to some specialty; as, a medical specialist, one who devotes himself to diseases of particular parts of the body, as the eye, the ear, the nerves, etc.


A sworn appraiser.


An expert who is devoted to one occupation or branch of learning


To experience.
Die would we daily, once it to expert.


Practices one branch of medicine


A person with special knowledge or ability who performs skillfully


A person focused in a particular field
She's a heart specialist.


Having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude;
Adept in handicrafts
An adept juggler
An expert job
A good mechanic
A practiced marksman
A proficient engineer
A lesser-known but no less skillful composer
The effect was achieved by skillful retouching


One with authoritative knowledge
He's an expert in physics.


What is a specialist?

A specialist is someone highly skilled in a specific field.

What is an expert?

An expert is someone with comprehensive and authoritative knowledge or skill.

Is the scope of a specialist narrow?

Typically, yes. Specialists usually focus on a specific area.

Is a specialist always an expert?

Not necessarily. Being a specialist doesn't automatically make one an expert.

Is an expert always a specialist?

No, an expert can have broader skills that are not confined to one field.

Is the scope of an expert broad?

Generally, yes. Experts can have a wider range of knowledge.

Can an expert solve specific issues?

Yes, an expert can offer solutions to both specific and broader issues.

What are the job responsibilities of a specialist?

These are generally narrow, related to their specific area of expertise.

Do experts have to be certified?

Not necessarily, experts can earn their title through experience as well.

How is 'expert' used linguistically?

It can stand alone or be followed by the field of expertise.

Do specialists have to be certified?

Often, specialists hold certifications in their specific field.

Can a specialist solve broader issues?

Usually, a specialist focuses on problems within their domain.

How is 'specialist' used linguistically?

It often comes prefixed with the area of specialization, like "IT Specialist."

Are specialists and experts mutually exclusive?

No, someone can be both a specialist in a particular field and an expert with broader knowledge.

What are the job responsibilities of an expert?

These can be more varied, reflecting a broader skill set.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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