And if Pulse cannon is also a problem Shield Speciaist is horrible since you'll use it quite a bit.
As for some information on the specs in general and where they use the 'lightning' for:
Shield specialist: 5% damage debuff from Ion Pulse (later in an AoE applied by Explosive Surge) and Pulse Canon is as very big threat builder, which is what tank is all about. Shield specialist is as mentioned above a tanking spec and you won't do a lot of damage. It's very beloved in Flashpoints and Operations, but I'd only recommend it for leveling if your ultimate goal is tanking in end-game so you can get used to it.
While solo-leveling I'd highly recommend taking Aric Jorgan as companion for this spec due to a bit of compensation for the damage you lack.
Tatics: Here you use Ion Pulse relatively often to 'proc' other skills such as Stockstrike, High Impact Bolt and (sorry) Pulse Cannon. Currently one of the stronger DPS specs how-ever and thus one of the better levelings specs. Nothing beats a DPS in terms of speed while traveling with a companion.
Assault: Honestly... I know ****-all about it since the update but I remember having to use Ion Pulse quite a bit and I doubt this has changed. It's another DPS tree, but from what I've heard it's currently the weakest.
For both these specs I'd recommend taking your second companion, who's a healer, so you can DPS everything down quite fast while she keeps she topped up and sometimes even shoots at people.
If you really can't endure the lightning animations I fear Vanguard can become quite a problem, shame the animations ruin it for you so much.