The word “specialist” refers to a natural person who has specific knowledge in a specific field and who may also have the skills and abilities necessary for the application of theoretical knowledge.
The word “specialist” can be used in a restrictive and a qualifying sense.
In its restrictive meaning it expresses that the focus of a person’s knowledge or activity lies in a narrowly defined specialist field. In this way, a distinction is made against “generalists” who have a broad spectrum of knowledge. However, this does not necessarily imply a statement about the level of knowledge.
In the qualificatory sense, the word “specialist” is used to express that a person has profound knowledge of a special degree in a particular field. It is used synonymously with the term “expert”. Depending on the subject area and the depth of the level of knowledge demonstrated, knowledge acquisition is based on academic study, scientific research, vocational training or relevant experience.
It is not uncommon for the term to be extended to include a reference to the respective subject area. A specialist for digital change and digital transformation, for example, is referred to as a digitization specialist.