In business and academic fields, ‘specialists’ are regarded and respected as persons with special knowledge and skill about their own professions, like medical specialist, research specialist and computer specialist.
However, I was amused to find the following lines of today’s Washington Post reporting that the suspect of OAK CREEK shooting rampage had been demoted from sergeant to specialist before leaving the Army.
"Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said Page, who lived in a neighboring community, served in the military from 1992 to 1998, received a “general discharge” and was “ineligible for reenlistment.” A Pentagon official said Page rose to the rank of sergeant before being demoted to specialist and leaving the Army. - Wade Michael Page, Sikh temple shooter, identified as skinhead band leader
Are specialists in the American Army regarded as lower than sergeants and corporals in the ranking order, unlike general perception of specialists vs general staff among ‘fellow Americans?’ Is it special to the Army, or common to other fields of occupations?