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?

  • 1
    – Jim
    Aug 7, 2012 at 2:24
  • To me, this seems a bit off topic--the perception of military rankings isn't really a question on English.
    – simchona
    Aug 7, 2012 at 2:24
  • @I don’t think so. Then to ask questions of hierarchy and roles in Christian church, such as bishop, archbishop, diocese, and to ask ranks and functions of university fuculties are taboo, or off-topic subject? If I ask which of generals and colonel in English is high in ranking, am I violating tabboo or am I off-topic? Aug 7, 2012 at 2:40
  • Hierarchy of a Christian church is probably better on Christianity.SE, and roles of university faculty is specific to a given university. You're not taboo--it just seems off topic.
    – simchona
    Aug 7, 2012 at 2:42
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    Maybe not off-topic, but general ref. Such rank structures are readlily accessible on the web at sites like this one. In the case of the Army and the word "Specialist," each soldier is assigned to a career field, and receives specialized training in that field, such as satellite communications, or water treatment. With enough training and/or experience, soldiers can be promoted to that rank. Higher enlisted ranks (like sergeant) manage people as well as equipment.
    – J.R.
    Aug 7, 2012 at 2:45

1 Answer 1


"Specialist" is a specific rank in the U.S. Army. It is above "private" and below both "corporal" and "sergeant".

  • This is the answer I wished to have. It's now clear. You gave me exact answer just in one line, instead of being told 'Don't ask this kind of question. It's off-topic," and "Go to other language sites." I appreciate. Aug 7, 2012 at 2:53
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    Actually, specialist is the same pay grade as corporal, but has less command authority. The rank of corporal has become greatly limited in recent years and is very uncommon now. The specialist ranks were originally created as a way to allow soldiers to move up in paygrade if they were good at their specific job but not great leaders. There were originally several specialist ranks ranging from Spec-4 (same pay grade as a corporal) to Spec-6 (same pay grade as Staff Sergeant) but Spec-4 is the only one currently in use.
    – Kevin
    Aug 7, 2012 at 15:58
  • @Kevin. Tremendously valuable information which I can never get from a dozen of definitions for the special usage of ‘specialist’ in ordinary English dictionaries. It’s great that I could have sufficient answers from you and Bob, even my question was down-voted by someone, and unfortunately closed. I appreciate. Aug 8, 2012 at 7:56

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