Expert … Anyone?

“When no one is an expert, anyone can be.” (Unknown)

Expert (Cambridge, 2016) : A person with a high level of knowledge or skill relating to a particular subject or activity:

  1. A gardening/medical expert
  2. My mother is an expert at dress-making (= she does it very well).

Expert (Business Dictionary, 2016): Professional who has acquired knowledge and skills through study and practice over the years, in a particular field or subject, to the extent that his or her opinion may be helpful in fact finding, problem solving, or understanding of a situation.

Expert, Knowledge (1)

Points to Note

  • Traditionally, people are considered experts because other people ask them for advice, not due to self-declaration (think social media).
  • There are three types of expert:
    • Lay experts: those who have knowledge/skills but don’t get paid for it, e.g. office colleagues.
    • Professional experts: those who have knowledge/skills and get paid to do it, e.g. solicitors.
    • Celebrity experts: those who may or may not have knowledge/skills, but are typically consulted due to their status.
  • No dictionary definitions, that I have seen, note qualifications. A qualification might give you knowledge/skills, but it does not make you an expert.
  • A master’s degree, in itself, does not make one an expert, although the definitions would suggest otherwise (Prospects, 2015): “Masters study can increase your subject knowledge […and…] is a qualification awarded to students who show a high level of expertise in a particular field.” A thesis is the defining element to a Master’s Degree, otherwise it is labelled a Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate. Students on both courses attend the same lessons/lectures etc, although one is considered a ‘master’ and the other isn’t! A 20,000 word thesis does not make one an expert.
  • Mastery (having complete control of something) takes time, i.e. years not 2 months on YouTube or one evening per week on a two-year ‘master’s degree’.

Expert, Knowledge


Cambridge Dictionaries Online (2016) Expert. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 01 June, 2016].

Business Dictionary (2016) Expert. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 01 June, 2016].

Prospects (2015) What is a Masters Degree? Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 01 June, 2016].


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