Software engineers write new programs to help employees do their work more efficiently, but the software engineers do not teach people to use the new program. That is the job of the implementation specialist. As one recent job posting for an implementation specialist noted, "You will be acting as the face of [the software maker] and interfacing directly with customers, understanding their needs and configuring the software to meet them."
Duties and Responsibilities
An implementation specialist becomes an expert on the software of a particular technology company. After the software engineers create a new program, the implementation specialist runs usability tests to make sure that others who use the program will not become confused or encounter problems. The implementation specialist also creates a handbook and an online help section to accompany the software. When a new client purchases the software, the implementation specialist helps the client install the software and teaches key employees how to use it. Throughout the time that the client uses the software, they may call the implementation specialist for technical support.
Many implementation specialists do not work regular office hours. In a larger company with more than one implementation specialist, each particular employee may work early or late shifts to answer questions from clients, especially in other time zones. They may work longer-than-normal hours while they test a new product and prepare for it for launch. Many implementation specialists take overnight trips to visit new clients and help them install the software.
Qualifications for the Job
Most implementation specialists have a bachelor’s degree in education, computer science or a related field. They must have experience working with computer hardware or software.
Implementation specialists must have excellent communication skills -- interpersonal, written and public speaking. They must provide superior customer service to internal and external clients. They must be strong leaders who are able to solve problems creatively and efficiently. They must be comfortable using technology and be able to explain it to others. They must pay attention to detail as they monitor data and analyze reports. They should also be able to manage their time well and handle multiple projects simultaneously.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't specifically survey the job title of implementation specialist. However, the BLS predicts that jobs for software applications specialists will grow 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the 11 percent average for all careers. The BLS reports average annual wages of applications specialists at $92,660 as of 2013. As of July 2014, the website Indeed reports an average national wage of $92,000 annually for implementation specialists in New York City and $74,000 annually in Portland, Oregon.