Mac Geniuses vs. Geek Squad CIAs

Recently a friend asked me if I knew someone who could help them fix their laptop. Immediately what popped into my head were all of the Apple Store “Mac Geniuses” and Best Buy “Geek Squad Central Intelligence Agents” that have been posting reviews and salaries on Glassdoor. What are “Geek Squad Agents” and “Geniuses”? Well, every Best Buy has a counter staffed with Geek Squad “Central Intelligence Agents” (or CIA’s for short) that provide computer support services to customers. Likewise, in every Apple Store you will find a “Genius Bar” staffed with “Mac Geniuses” that are specially trained and certified to help you with Apple hardware and software. The Geek Squad and the Mac Geniuses have been very active on Glassdoor, so I asked Paul (He’s our data manager) to help me dig a little deeper into these two jobs. We’ve created a comparison of how these two seemingly similar jobs compare from an outsiders perspective. Let’s get started…

Mac Genius Uniform vs. Geek Squad Uniform

At a glance, one of the most striking differences between Geniuses and the Geeks is how they dress:

Mac Genius Uniform vs Geek Squad Uniform
Mac Genius Uniform vs Geek Squad Uniform

The Geniuses get to dress a bit more “hip,” sporting jeans, a black apple t-shirt, and sneakers. The primary accessory that goes with this outfit is an ipod, which many Genius’s wear dangling from their neck. In stark contrast, the Geek Squad CIAs sports a more formal “Agent Uniform”. It consists of a short sleeve white collared shirt, a “Breakaway tie” (which means clip-on), black slacks (or skirt for the female agents), shiny black shoes, and a belt. Not sure about you, but if I had to choose one of these outfits to wear to work, it wouldn’t be a competition.

Mac Genius Pay vs. CIA Pay

Looking at Glassdoor’s pay profiles for each of these jobs reveals that on average Mac Geniuses get paid nearly 60% more than the in-store Geek Squad CIA Agents:

Mac Genius Pay vs Geek Squad CIA Pay
Mac Genius Pay vs Geek Squad CIA Pay

Another interesting difference is that Apple Mac Genius’s reported working 40 hours per week on average, compared to just 30 hours on average reported by the CIA’s. (For all the Geek Squad Agents reading this, we compared CIA’s to Mac Genius, treating Senior CIA’s as a separate job, and thus excluding them from this analysis. Click here to see pay for Geek Squad, Senior CIA)

Mac Genius Job Satisfaction vs. CIA Job Satisfaction

Although Mac Geniuses enjoy higher pay and a more palatable dress than Geek Squad CIAs, they rate Apple only slightly higher than CIAs rate Best Buy:

Mac Genius Satisfaction vs Geek Sqaud CIA Satisfaction
Mac Genius Satisfaction vs Geek Sqaud CIA Satisfaction

In most categories, Apple Mac Geniuses are slightly more satisfied than the Geeks. When it comes to CEOs, however, 84% of the Geniuses approve of Apple CEO Steve Jobs; compared to just 45% of the CIAs who approve of Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson.

What to make of all this?

The Mac Geniuses get paid more, and they have a more hip and casual working environment, so we both expected the Geniuses’ ratings for Apple to be much higher than the Geeks’ ratings for Best Buy. There’s the key benefit of employee discounts, which apply to a broader range of products at Best Buy so maybe that comes into play. Although, you’ll see Best Buy CIAs have slightly higher opinion about work-life balance, which for many people is a valuable trade off. Or, maybe there’s a lot more satisfaction to be had from wearing the “breakaway tie” than one would think. What do you think?