When in a sentence it is necessary to refer to an expert person, someone who is a reference for a specific field, I've often seen the expression "industry expert".

Is it an expression wide enough to be used for contexts different from the industry or it is better to write something like "expert in the field" or similar?

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    'Industry expert' seems to be normally used to imply 'expert in your / the designated industry', but is quite possibly used weaselly as there doesn't seem to be a dictionary definition, never mind a legally binding one. Feb 16, 2018 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


"Industry Expert" is a term to describe a person with both knowledge an experience in a very high level industry, example industries include

  • Automobiles
  • Aircraft
  • Transport (getting people from one place to another)
  • Finance
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Politics
  • Electrical engineering
  • Plumbing

"Industry" is a subjective term, but it's generally defined by say BBC news categories (eg news from the entertainment industry) or job searches (ie look for jobs in banking and finance).

"Expert in the field" is more specific, there will be an expert in the field of tyres in the automobile industry, there will be an expert in the field of managing auditions in the entertainment industry.

"Subject Matter Expert, SME" is the most specific. Someone with knowledge and experience within the field, within the industry. For example, there is an SME on exchange traded funds within the finance industry, there is an SME on the synchronization of cylinders in the automobile industry, there is an SME on the dopamine receptors in the biological industry.

SME is VERY specific, you wouldn't say refer to an SME as an accountant, an SME will have a narrow field of expertise and would be the go to person for that one specific topic.

  • Hello, Ariane. This looks very informative and precise, but who is the authority regulating the use of these labels? Can someone be arrested for claiming to be an SME when they've only read a 'How to bluff your way in ...' guide? Answers considered good on ELU need authoritative references. Feb 16, 2018 at 11:42
  • I was not aware of Subject Matter Experts, good to know. Feb 16, 2018 at 12:58
  • I'm not aware of any authority, it's just commonly used in every day language. For example, the new channels will say "news from the entertainment industry". And after a quick google, SME is on wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subject-matter_expert, so maybe some urban dictionary will be able to help Feb 17, 2018 at 11:07

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