What’s a Technologist?
What is a technologist, anyway? In the broadest sense, a technologist is a Technology Specialist. That is, one who specializes in technology.
I like to take it a step further and define a technologist as a General Technology Specialist, just to ramp up the oxymoron. However, as most technologists know, that’s exactly what we are – general specialists. We’ve spent decades honing our skill-sets into fine points… in many, many different areas. These finely sharpened points may not be very deep, mind you, but boy are they sharp! The old “jack of all trades, master of none” chestnut comes into play a bit. Just to clarify – technology is such an incredibly broad term, no one can be a specialist in every single aspect. As such, the term “technologist” contains a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek. It is, and should be, embraced despite the incongruity.
Now, as to the “Master of None” bit. A specialist is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study, etc.” So, someone who has deep, specific skills in one area. A specialist is necessary when you know exactly what you need, how to communicate your requirements, and who is specialized in the right area to implement your solution. But what if you don’t know these things?
Enter Mr Technologist. The wide ranging skill-sets which are the hallmark of techs are ideal for connecting people, technology, and business opportunities. Rather than spending years of education and experience on any one thing, a technologist has an intense curiosity in technology in general. This has led them to become familiar with many different aspects, and to develop skills and experience in a variety of fields. Thus, a technologist is a good person to know if you’re trying to solve a problem and you’re not quite sure how to go about it.
What does the web say? Here’s an entry for “technologist” from Princeton’s WordNet:
S: (n) engineer, applied scientist, technologist (a person who uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problems)
Wikipedia does not have an entry for Technologist – though one does exist for “Professional Technologist” (which is apparently a recognized profession in Canada):
Professional Technologist (P.Tech) is a Canadian professional title awarded on the basis of academic qualifications and work experience. Professional Technologists must be registered or licensed to work in engineering and technology related fields.
The title of P.Tech, is protected by provincial legislation. One cannot use the title or hold that one is a Professional Technologist unless so certified, by a provincial body associated with the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists.
The question asked by this very page is asked more and more frequently as people encounter this term:
Wikipedia also contains entries for specific types of techs, illustrating efforts to narrow down the term into specialties: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technologist
Some of these specialties include Surgical, Medical, Radiologic, Nuclear Medicine, CT, and MRI techs. All of these take the “general technology specialist” aspect, add additional specialized skills and training in a particular field, and produce a highly functional and cross-trained individual who is essential in their respective area of expertise. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you’re thinking about becoming a tech, now is a great time to start. The Surgical Technology Specialist field, for instance, is projected to grow at a rate of 15% over the next 10 years! Join us… join us…
Without further ado, let’s jump into the incredibly focused and highly specialized world of technology (in general!)*:
*heh heh heh.
[re-posted and fleshed out – thanks for reading!]
Postscript: If you’re interested in discussing particular challenges or opportunities, feel free to contact me.
– David Foster, Curious Technologist