What Does a Subject Matter Expert Do? | Essential Job Role and Responsibilities

February 23, 2024
what does a subject matter expert do

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Nobody is perfect, but you can surely be an expert on a subject if you want to! A Subject Matter Expert or an SME is the perfect way to do so! You must have come across notices like “Subject Matter Experts wanted” or “Hiring for Subject Matter Experts” and wondered “What is a Subject Matter Expert” or “What does a Subject Matter Expert do?”

Well, we’re here to answer those questions, tell you the pros of becoming an SME and also give you ten tips on what does a subject matter expert do?

What is a Subject Matter Expert?

A Subject Matter Expert or an SME has special skills, deep knowledge, and expertise in a particular subject. They are an authority over their chosen subject. They are employed on a freelance, contractual, or full-time basis to answer questions pertaining to their subject, which students post.

Skills of a Subject Matter Expert (SME)

What does a Subject Matter Expert do?

The main job of an SME is to ensure that the content or information pertaining to her/his field of expertise is accurate. They provide their specific knowledge to a project. They can work as freelance experts and answer student queries in their subjects.

Organizations like Chegg India hire freelance Subject Matter Experts who sign up on the website or from campus hiring, answer questions related to a specific subject posted by students worldwide, and get paid per question answered! The average salary for a Subject Matter Expert is between 30,000-80,000 per month, and the top performers also earn upwards of 80k monthly.

Get Paid for Your Knowledge

Ten ways to become a good Subject Matter Expert

1. Build a solid foundation for your chosen subject

The first step to what does a Subject Matter Expert do is developing sound knowledge of your chosen subject. i.e. become an “expert” at it. After all, Subject Matter Experts are considered to be authorities on their subject, and there is a huge responsibility on their shoulders! Suppose the foundation of the SME is weak. In that case, it might have far-reaching repercussions on the organization they work for as they have to pass a quality assessment before being hired at organizations like Chegg as freelance experts. Moreover, since most of the work of Subject Matter Experts is knowledge-centric, they need to be proficient and well-versed in their subject to excel in the profession. Knowledge can be developed and enhanced by thoroughly reading relevant textbooks and having a good grasp of the subject’s core concepts through practice.

2. Have good research skills

What does a subject matter expert do exactly? You might face questions or problems requiring you to dig deeper into your subject to find an optimal solution. This will require you to have good research and analytical skills to find out what is needed, use your expertise to optimize it, and then present a well-rounded solution to the question asked. Having dedicated research skills is an essential characteristic for a good Subject Matter Expert because the job description isn’t bound to a particular “syllabus” or framework but is based on questions students can ask. Thus, the ability to dig out what is needed is a coveted skill!

3. Be expressive and articulate

As a Subject Matter Expert, you will often be required to present your ideas articulately to answer a specific question. If you are a teacher or a freelance expert, you might have to explain concepts to students online or in written form. Either way, your ability to be expressive and articulate your ideas clearly will help you actualize your potential as an SME. Knowledge of your subject won’t take you very far if you cannot express it accurately and attractively whenever needed to answer a query effectively. Thus, to be a successful SME, you should hone your articulating skills and learn to be expressive, so that no question remains unanswered or half-answered in your student’s mind!

4. Practice

What does a Subject Matter Expert do will be much clear with more and more practice? Do remember that there will be multiple times when you are faced with a question that you might not have an immediate solution to. This means that you will have to research, brush up on some of your concepts, and find a solution to the question. Patience is a crucial skill for completing this task successfully. It is straightforward to get frustrated if an instant solution does not strike your mind, but breaking the question down to a basic level and illustrating the solution is where the skill lies. You must remember that you have been hired because you are an authority in that subject. You can be a great subject matter expert if you are a patient person. If not, it’s never too late to learn!

5. Be inquisitive and observant.

A huge part of developing mastery on a subject is observing and understanding the nitty-gritty of it, as well as a lot of things around it. Everything is interlinked, and while you hone your skills on a particular subject that you are passionate about and skilled at, you should also be observant of things going on around you, whether the latest scientific invention or the newest technique to solve a real analysis problem. Being inquisitive, asking questions, and searching for answers will help you enhance your knowledge and become better at what you do- answering questions and solving textbooks! Thus, to have a great understanding of what a subject matter expert do, try to be as inquisitive and observant as you can!

6. Be creative, innovative, and have an open mind

In your job as a Subject Matter Expert, you need to understand what does a subject matter expert do exactly. You will be expected to come up with your ideas and solutions to a question often. To be able to think of bright ideas and develop solutions, you must immerse yourself in your subject so that you can easily think of innovative ways to solve a problem. However, within the innovation and creativity, ensure you stick to the answering guidelines as organizations like Chegg hire Subject Matter Experts are particular about their outlined quality parameters being adhered to. Being open-minded and flexible will help you contribute in the best way possible and utilize your knowledge and expertise to the fullest, to help those looking for solutions!

7. Understand your role in the organization

Understanding your job description and analyzing what is expected of you is crucial to estimate how you can do your best and help the organization. When you enter an organization, whether as a freelancer, ensure you know what you are expected to do and what services you can offer. For example, in Chegg, as a Subject Matter Expert, you are expected to answer questions posted by students on the Q&A board while maintaining a high level of academic integrity.

After you know this, you dig into your subject knowledge as an Expert and work on how best to use it, in your tenure in the organization. If you are unclear about how you can help and what is needed of you, your efforts and hard work will also be half-hearted or misplaced- For example, if you are not aware of the answering guidelines to be followed! So to be efficient and excellent as an SME, ensure that you clearly know your role in the organization.

8. Be disciplined and have time-management skills.

Discipline and time-management skills are essential not only to do an excellent job as a Subject Matter Expert but to do a good job at living in general! Drawing clear goals, and timelines for tasks, and giving yourself deadlines ( For example- I will answer five questions today) are brilliant and effective ways to ensure that you lead a disciplined life, exceed your expectations at work and have a work-life balance. Not having good time management skills can make you overwhelmed or frustrated with work, and reduce your productivity. The job of a Subject Matter Expert is demanding, but one can excel in it with grace if only one manages their time well! Just a couple of point more on what does a subject matter expert do.

Recommended Read: Scope of Subject Matter Expert jobs in India – Be a Chegg Expert

9. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism

Being a freelance Subject Matter Expert is a lucrative job, but like every other profession, it comes with its fair share of professional criticism and feedback. Although, as a freelance expert, your chances of receiving feedback are low, it is possible for a particular method of solving to be questioned or further doubts to be asked. Learn to take it the right way and improve upon your flaws. Working as an SME and understanding what does a subject matter expert do is challenging, but taking feedback and criticism positively will not only ensure that you grow as a person and a professional. It will push you to your limits and shape you for the better after all and isn’t that a great thing?

10. Constantly learn and update your knowledge

Although you have been hired as an expert at what you do and to help others pursuing a particular subject, remember that the process of learning is eternal. You might have extensive knowledge as an SME in your field. Still, you must constantly update yourself with the latest happenings, keep reading more books pertaining to your subject, and increase your knowledge in general. If you are to be a true master of your subject, never stop the learning process, and you will truly excel in your chosen profession as a Subject Matter Expert. Moreover, since you are passionate about your subject, the thrill of learning, and knowing more about it should never stop!

Role of SMEs in Different Fields

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are recruited in a variety of fields and industries where specialized knowledge is crucial. The roles and responsibilities of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can vary widely depending on the industry and the specific needs of the organization. Here are some examples of the roles SMEs may play in different areas:

1. Technology and IT

  • Software Developer: Design and create software solutions, write code, and ensure the functionality of applications.
  • Cybersecurity Expert: Identify and mitigate security risks, implement security measures, and safeguard digital assets.
    Network Architect: Design and manage computer networks, ensuring optimal performance and security.

2. Healthcare

  • Medical Specialist: Provide expert medical advice, diagnose and treat patients, and contribute to medical research.
  • Healthcare Manager: Oversee and manage healthcare facilities, ensuring efficient operations and compliance with regulations.

3. Finance and Banking

  • Financial Analyst: Analyze financial data, prepare reports, and provide insights to support decision-making.
  • Investment Advisor: Offer expert advice on investment strategies, asset allocation, and financial planning.

4. Engineering

  • Civil Engineer: Design and oversee the construction of infrastructure projects such as bridges, roads, and buildings.
  • Mechanical Engineer: Develop and test mechanical systems and devices, ensuring they meet industry standards.

5. Education

  • Subject-Specific Educator: Teach and provide expertise in a specific subject or field, contributing to the academic development of students.

6. Marketing and Advertising

  • Digital Marketing Specialist: Develop and implement digital marketing strategies, analyze campaign performance, and stay updated on industry trends.

In each of these areas, SMEs are valued for their in-depth knowledge, experience, and ability to provide insights that contribute to decision-making, problem-solving, and innovation within their respective fields.

Services Offered by Subject Matter Expert

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in an organization can offer a range of services and contribute in various ways based on their expertise. Here are some common services and roles that SMEs often provide:

1. Consultation and Advice

  • Provide expert advice and guidance on complex issues within their field of expertise.
  • Consult with teams and decision-makers to address challenges and provide strategic insights.

2. Training and Development

  • Develop and deliver training programs to enhance the skills and knowledge of employees.
  • Offer workshops, seminars, and mentoring to help colleagues improve their proficiency in specific areas.

3. Research and Analysis

  • Conduct in-depth research on industry trends, emerging technologies, or specific topics relevant to the organization.
  • Analyze data and provide insights to support informed decision-making.

4. Content Creation

  • Contribute to the creation of content such as white papers, reports, and documentation.
  • Develop educational materials or resources to share knowledge within the organization.

5. Problem Solving

  • Assist in problem-solving by leveraging their deep understanding of a particular subject or industry.
  • Offer creative solutions and strategies to overcome challenges.

The specific services offered by SMEs can vary based on the nature of the organization and the industry it operates in. Their contributions often play a crucial role in achieving organizational goals, maintaining high standards, and staying competitive in the market.

Final Thoughts

Subject Matter Experts or SMEs are in high demand in the current market scenario, and Chegg is hiring pan India. A simple registration process provides email and mobile numbers followed by giving a simple subject test and guidelines test. It is a well-paying, rewarding, and satisfying profession that has flexible work hours and can be done on a part-time basis. It enables you to earn while you learn and also gives you exposure to working in an MNC culture. So, if you are a committed learner and are dedicated to helping people answer their questions and doubts answered with your knowledge, signing up as a Chegg Subject Matter Expert is an excellent choice!

Get Paid to Help Students Across the World - Earn With Chegg

We hope we made clarity on the roles and responsibilities of SME and what does a subject matter expert do ?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is subject matter expert a good career?

Yes, being a subject matter expert can be a rewarding career. Subject matter experts are highly valued by organizations, as they possess specialized knowledge and experience in their field. They serve as a resource for others, guiding topics and processes related to their expertise. A career as a subject matter expert can be an excellent choice for those with a passion for their expertise.

How do you become a subject matter expert?

1. Become an expert in the relevant area of study: Become familiar with the relevant area of expertise by studying the material, attending courses or seminars, and reading industry journals.
2. Develop your professional network: Build relationships with people in the industry who can provide valuable insight and advice.
3. Become an active participant in the field: Participate in industry events, such as conferences, trade shows, and seminars.
4. Stay up-to-date: Keep abreast of current trends and developments by reading relevant publications, attending webinars, and following influencers on social media.
5. Build your credibility: Share your knowledge and experience by publishing articles, speaking at events, and teaching courses.
6. Develop your teaching skills: Develop your teaching skills to become an effective and engaging instructor.

How do you answer SME interview questions?

1. Prepare for the interview by researching the company and the job role. Familiarize yourself with the company’s values, mission, and goals.
2. Use the STAR method to answer questions. Start by describing the Situation or Task, explain the Action you took, and finally discuss the Results.
3. Be honest and provide concrete examples from your experience to back up your answers.
4. Speak, confidently, and concisely.
5. Ask questions about the job role and the company at the end of the interview.

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