Thursday, July 8, 2010

Listen Up Kids: Job Titles Explained

My kids often ask me to explain what a particular job title means and what it implies as far as duties performed.  It's kind of funny, to me anyway, how titles have evolved (or devolved) over the past 30 years.  Some have been deprecated, while new ones have emerged and been adapted into yet newer ones.  But don't be fooled, here's what they really mean:

Technician – A low-level grunt doing the crap work for menial pay.  It doesn't matter if it's health care, information technology, shipping, security, or office work.  It's the lipstick on the pig to make the worker feel better about being lower than they think they really are.

Associate – Same as a technician only less lipstick on the pig.

Engineer – One of the most over-used title enhancements ever.  Especially since the late 1990's.  It simply means you have power to delegate work to technicians and associates, but you don't have any real managerial powers.

Representative – Lower than an associate

Assistant – An associate assigned to work for one person only.

Clerk – An assistant who the company doesn't feel worthy of making them feel important enough to call them an associate or technician.

Specialist – Same as an associate, only that it usually comes with more restrictions on the role or duties.  An associate gets pulled into odd jobs more often than a specialist does.

Vice President – This was once referred to as a department or division manager.  While it once held great meaning, since there were relatively few of them in a given company, these days there are often dozens of them in a company.

CxO – Unless it's CEO, CFO, COO, CIO or CTO it usually means the CEO, CFO and COO wanted the person to feel important even though they don't really get invited to the same strip clubs, poker games and golf outings.

President – Usually the same as the CEO.  Some companies make a distinction, many do not, and many times it's the same person as the CEO.  It's also often a landing position for a former CEO or founding member of the company.

Analyst – someone paid to analyze things and delegate the fixing to a technician or specialist.  In some cases the analyst IS the technician, but the title is granted to make them feel better about doing two jobs for the pay of one.

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