Career Development

What Does a Subject Matter Expert Do?

Find out what a subject matter expert does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a subject matter expert.

Subject matter experts (SMEs) are professionals who have deep knowledge of a particular subject. They may work in a variety of fields, but they all share the same goal: to help others understand complex topics and ideas.

Subject matter experts commonly provide training or instruction on their area of expertise. This might include writing manuals, giving presentations, or even just answering questions from coworkers or customers.

Subject Matter Expert Job Duties

A subject matter expert typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing learning materials such as instructional manuals or online courses
  • Providing technical support by answering questions about products or services to customers who have purchased them
  • Conducting research on new technologies or techniques to determine their feasibility and applicability within an organization
  • Creating prototypes of new products or developing models for new business processes
  • Training new employees on how to use company products or services
  • Preparing reports about trends in technology, customer preferences, or other topics relevant to the organization’s activities
  • Conducting research to identify new markets for products or services offered by the organization
  • Interpreting data to identify trends and opportunities for growth within specific industries
  • Interviewing job candidates to assess their suitability for positions within the company

Subject Matter Expert Salary & Outlook

Subject matter expert salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company they work for. They may also earn additional income through bonuses or commissions.

  • Median Annual Salary: $105,000 ($50.48/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $172,000 ($82.69/hour)

The employment of subject matter experts is expected to decline over the next decade.

Employment growth for subject matter experts depends on the growth of their specialties. However, automation and the use of software in many fields may limit the need for subject matter experts. Software can do some tasks that subject matter experts currently perform, such as analyzing large amounts of data or creating complex models.

Related: Subject Matter Expert Interview Questions and Answers

Subject Matter Expert Job Requirements

A subject matter expert typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Some employers may prefer a master’s degree or a related field of study. Relevant fields of study include biology, chemistry, criminal justice, psychology and sociology.

Training & Experience: Subject matter experts typically receive training through their formal education and work experience. Some formal education programs include training as part of the curriculum. For example, a master’s degree program in library science will include training in the form of a practicum. A practicum is a supervised experience in which the student applies the skills they learned in the classroom.

Certifications & Licenses: Subject matter experts are not required to have any certifications to earn their position, but many subject matter experts seek certifications to improve their skills and increase their earning potential.

Subject Matter Expert Skills

Subject matter experts need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Subject matter experts often have technical skills that allow them to understand the topic they’re discussing. Technical skills can include knowledge of computer programs, software, engineering processes and other complex topics. Technical skills can help you explain complex topics to others in a way they can understand.

Communication skills: As a subject matter expert, you may be asked to communicate your knowledge to others. This can include speaking to a large audience or one-on-one. Your communication skills can help you explain complex topics in an easy-to-understand way. It can also help you answer questions from others and encourage them to learn more.

Research skills: As a subject matter expert, you may be called upon to research topics related to your field. This can include researching the latest trends, statistics or developments in your industry. You can use research skills to find the information you need and present it to others in a clear and concise way.

Teaching skills: Subject matter experts often need to teach others about their subject. This can include teaching employees, students or members of the public. Teaching requires a variety of skills, including the ability to explain complex topics, answer questions and provide feedback.

Industry knowledge: Subject matter experts often have extensive knowledge of the industry they work in. This can include information about the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in the industry. This knowledge can help you develop more effective training programs, as you can create learning experiences that address the needs of your audience.

Subject Matter Expert Work Environment

Subject matter experts typically work in an office environment, although they may travel to attend conferences or to provide training. They typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may work longer hours to meet deadlines or to complete projects. Subject matter experts may also be required to travel to provide training or to attend conferences.

Subject Matter Expert Trends

Here are three trends influencing how subject matter experts work. Subject matter experts will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Talent

The need for more technical talent is a trend that is being driven by the increasing complexity of business and the need for businesses to be more agile. This has led to an increased demand for subject matter experts who can help businesses implement new technologies and solutions.

Subject matter experts who are able to bridge the gap between business and technology will be in high demand, as they will be able to provide the necessary guidance and support to help businesses adopt new technologies quickly and efficiently.

More Focus on Data Science

As data science becomes more important, businesses are beginning to place a greater emphasis on hiring professionals who have expertise in this area. This is because data science allows businesses to make better decisions based on the information that they have collected.

Subject matter experts in data science can capitalize on this trend by becoming experts in data analysis and understanding how to use data to make better decisions. They can also become trainers or consultants who can help other businesses utilize data science to its fullest potential.

A Greater Emphasis on Collaboration

The trend towards collaboration in the workplace is continuing to grow, as more and more companies are realizing the benefits of having employees work together on projects.

Subject matter experts who are able to collaborate effectively with others will be in high demand in the years to come, as they will be able to contribute valuable insights and ideas to team projects. In order to be successful in this environment, subject matter experts will need to be able to communicate effectively and work well with others.

How to Become a Subject Matter Expert

A subject matter expert (SME) is someone who has a deep understanding of a particular subject. They can answer questions about it, teach it to others, and use it in their own work.

To become an SME in your field, you need to be dedicated to learning about it. Read books and articles on the subject, attend workshops and webinars, and talk to experts in the field. You should also try using the subject in your own work so that you can see how it works in real life.

Advancement Prospects

Subject matter experts (SMEs) are the people who have the most knowledge about a particular topic. They are the go-to people for information on that topic. As such, they often have a great deal of responsibility and are looked to for leadership.

SMEs often start out as entry-level employees in their field of expertise. They gain experience and knowledge over time, and as they do, they move up the ladder into more senior positions. In some cases, they may even become the head of their department or division.

SMEs who want to advance their careers may choose to get more education, either by taking classes or getting a higher degree. They may also choose to become certified in their field. This can show potential employers that they are serious about their career and that they have the skills and knowledge to back it up.

Subject Matter Expert Job Description Example

As a [CompanyX] employee, you will be a part of a team of experts that provide critical analysis and thought leadership on a variety of topics. We are looking for a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to join our team and provide insights on [Topic]. The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of the subject matter, as well as the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely. As a SME, you will be responsible for conducting research, writing reports, and presenting your findings to clients and senior management. Your work will play a key role in informing [CompanyX]’s decision-making and help shape the future of our company.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Understand the organization’s products, services, and processes inside and out
  • Be a thought leader and advocate for change within the company
  • Understand the needs of customers and stakeholders, and be able to communicate those needs back to the organization
  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of the competition and market trends
  • Serve as a resource for other departments within the company
  • Train new employees on the company’s products, services, and processes
  • Write and edit training materials, user manuals, and other documentation
  • Create process maps and flowcharts
  • Conduct research and analysis to support decision-making
  • Provide input on product development and improvement
  • Give presentations to internal and external audiences
  • Serve as a subject matter expert on company products, services, and processes during audits and reviews

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field
  • 5+ years experience in relevant field or industry
  • Exceptional writing, research, and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and with a team to meet deadlines
  • Flexibility and adaptability to change
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in relevant field
  • 10+ years experience in relevant field or industry
  • Experience developing training materials or teaching
  • Industry certifications or licenses
  • Working knowledge of learning management systems


What Does a Chief Digital Officer Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a Logistics Supervisor Do?