What on earth do I call my job?

Ok, I've been doing what I do self-employed for over a decade.  Identifying myself as "owner" or "management" is easy, but, what should I be calling myself?  As in, how should I refer to my actual technical expertise?   Mainly - "Computer Scientist" is the only "technical" term I could really identify ... but it sounds, I don't know.  Funny and not right.  

Let me run through who I am, what I do, and what I've done -

- Started out as a hobbyist when I was a kid ( more precisely ... the disgraced-by-media noble arts of hacking/phreaking. )
- Learned to program on my own ( Fairly decent around age 15ish )
- Went to college for Computer Science, formalized my skills
- Know a bunch of languages:  C, C++, C#, Java, Perl, JavaScript, PHP, ASM
- Played with even more: Ruby, ADA, VB, ActionScript, who knows what else.
- Have done security standards compliance & auditing ( PCI-DSS/PA-DSS )
- Know a large variety of technologies (SQL, HTTP, SMTP, SSL, etc... ) multiple operating systems ( Windows, Linux, Solaris, Minix )  
- Know computers from the circuit level, up to the OS.  Inside & out.  Never met a problem I couldn't fix.
- Can build a pc, repair physical damage (as in remove, replace actual electronics & fix damaged circuitry with a soldering iron, etc )
- If I were to go into what technologies I know and have used, I might be listing for a page or two.

I've seen people running about using package names & library names to describe their skills, say someone throwing around "LAMP" or "AJAX" as a plus.   That, in my opinion, doesn't apply to a person with my working skillset, I feel it's below what I know.   I know those technologies - but - being familiar with, say STDLIB in C++ isn't really an asset in my eyes, nor would I consider listing some library as one of my proficiencies.   To me, a library is a library is a library.   Ways of representing data,  aren't really anything important in my eyes either.  

So, how would I title myself and what I do?   Anyone with a similar skillset have any suggestions?  I'd love a name to slap on myself.   Thanks!
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
It can be hard.  For all the things I've learned how to do, I have 4 different business cards...  What means something to one person doesn't to another.
I don't believe you can pick one single title unless you go with some poorly defined term like "Computer Guru".
The hardware and software parts are certainly separate. The hardware stuff gets names like "Computer Technician" or "Computer Repair Specialist" but knowing several languages would just be "Computer Programmer." Of course, if you are also good at design as well as implementation then "Programming Consultant" or "Computer Consultant" would be good terms to throw around.

Of course, if you write a résumé, then all those words in your first post should be tagged at the end somewhere (read the job posting and put the ones that match what they are looking for first).
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I use my business card to define what I do. I put the single sentence on the front of the card (I have two consultancy businesses) and the main points of each business (3 points each) on the back of the card. This has served me well for years.

I am the "owner" of my business and usually define myself as such. If that does not suffice, I refer to myself as a business consultant. My card defines my roles and capabilities.  

I can do many things. The longer I stay self-employed, the more I can do. But I keep the descriptions concise and simple. No one cares about a lot of detail - they will know soon enough it (a) you can do the job and (b) if you fit their organization.

.... Thinkpads_User

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Determine the Perfect Price for Your IT Services

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden with our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Download your free eBook now!

kyanwanAuthor Commented:
I see others having the same pigeonholing problem as me.

For myself, I'm not trying to stay focused on my hardware knowledge ... I'm more geared towards my logical skills & security skills.  Programming, eCommerce Security Analysis - and possibly combination of the two.

My hardware knowledge is something I picked up out of formal training, just tinkering with things - then keeping current with changing tech.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
So then, I would keep "consultant" in your title. With respect, I would never use "Guru" in my title.

I like "Business Consultant" and "Computer Consultant". I do not like "Technology Consultant".

This is where a Business Card can really help.  Financial Consulting, Technology Consulting, Business Consulting, Accounting Consulting all fit well on a Business Card. ... Thinkpads_User
Yes, the "Guru" word was not intended to be a suggestion for a professional title. I agree that consultant should be in there. "Computer Security Consultant" would be a good title to use sometimes. Several large organizations have had their security violated recently (Playstation, Google) so that's in the front of a lot of CEOs minds. If you say "Business Consultant," you may be expected to have a Business degree or to be able to come up with new names and rebranding but a lot of people will expect to pay you very well.
A great deal depends on where you want to take your career.  I have a problem similar to yours - hardware and software skills, and experience in everything from hands-on programming to managing multi-million dollar projects to VP Engineering.  More recently I have gone back to what I really love - programming.  

So now I identify myself as owner, but also as a Computer Consultant or a Web Consultant or a Programming Consultant.  Which I choose depends on how I want the person I am meeting to see me.  

For example, although I have 15 yrs experience in Proj Mgmt, I am not keen to do that kind of non-technical work anymore.  So I would not use PM or Business Consultant anywhere in my title. This is similar to your hardware experience.  You know how to do it, and you have a broad skill set in that area, but if it's not what you want to do, you need to de-emphasize it.

So I'd say, pick a title (or several titles) that emphsize both what you do AND what you want to be doing.  For example, Computer Security Consultant is great if that is what you want to do.  But if you use only that, then you will be limiting yourself if what you really want to do is something broader.  

Re Guru, some people can carry off the Guru thing, depending on their personality and the culture of the company they work for.  (E.g., I could see that being part of a title at Apple or Google, but probably not at IBM.)  But for most people, and especially freelancers looking for consulting gigs, I would say it is a bit too pretentious.
kyanwanAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the input.   I'll be splitting my professional personality a couple ways, and focus on what I like doing best.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thank you. I was pleased to assist and good luck selecting names. .... Thinkpads_User
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Programming Theory

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.