Specialist vs. Coordinator Roles

Strong organization and communication are essential skills for coordinators.
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Company structure plays an important role in determining the naming convention for various positions within the organization. For example, one organization may hire coordinators as an entry level position, where others require previous experience. In addition many organizations have strategically done away with the associate or administrator roles and replaced them with the title of coordinator, to minimize seniority hierarchies. In other organizations a coordinator may be considered a more senior role to the administrator.


    Coordinators typically have a very broad range of administrative responsibilities within an organization. A coordinator collects, organizes, monitors, and distributes information related to a project or company initiative. This tends to be an entry-level position and requires little specialized knowledge to complete the tasks. With several years' exposure to the organizational processes and discipline-specific training, it's possible for a coordinator to be promoted to a specialist role.


    Specialists concentrate primarily on a particular subject or activity within the organization. They tend to be highly skilled within in a specific field or discipline. For example, as a human resource specialist you may find yourself focusing on employee relations, medical leave or data analytics. As organizations grow, specialists are often hired to focus on key area of the business. Even though the size and structure of a company plays an important role when defining the naming convention, it would be appropriate to assume that a specialist role would be at least the same level as a generalist, and at many times senior.

Required Skills

    The skills required as a coordinator are fairly consistent, regardless of the industry. A successful coordinator will possess strong written and verbal communication skills, the ability to multitask and strong technical ability. They would also be expected to exhibit proficiency with basic computer applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. In addition to those core skills, a specialist is required to have specialized knowledge or expertise. In addition, many companies prefer to hire specialists with at least two years of experience.

Salary and Job Prospects

    According to career community Glassdoor.com, the national median salary is $40,000 for an operations coordinator and $42,000 for a specialist, but pay can differ greatly depending on the industry. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a human resources specialist is $52,690 and the job growth is expected to be 21 percent through 2020.In contrast, the site lists the median salary for a human resource administrative assistant as $38,340, with expected job growth is only expected to be .06 percent through 2020. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not list the title of coordinator in the majority of its entries, but instead substitutes it for the title administrative assistant, which would carry the same experience and responsibilities of a coordinator.

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