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Jack of all trades...

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Wires_are_bad, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Wires_are_bad

    Wires_are_bad Nibble Poster

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    Hi guys

    Was just wondering what peoples opinions were in regard to specialising in certain aspects of IT or just working with a wide variety of technologies.

    I'm really enjoying working with all sorts of areas - from networking, to OS installs, etc. I'm going to be taking my A+ and N+ exams next month but I'm not sure where to go from here to be honest.

    With the state of the market, I guess the more you know then the better. By narrowing yourself to a few core skills do you think this will hurt your career later on in life?

    I know this is a bit of a generic question, but I cross paths with many people in the IT industry that are specialists in certain areas (Exchange admin, hardware builds, etc) and I've been trying to decide if I should focus on a smaller area (such as Windows O/S and networking) instead of trying to learn too much.

    Would you rather specialise or do you think that it's worthwhile learning as much as possible?
     
    Certifications: Bsc Business I.T (2:1)
    WIP: A+ and N+
  2. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    As a career in IT advances, I don't think you can avoid specializing. It's pretty hard to be a "jack of all trades" in a field that contains such a vast amount of information. It's a full time job and then some to learn one area of IT and to learn to do it well.

    I think at a career's beginning, you learn to cover a wider area for a couple of reasons.
    1. Often, you don't really know what you want to do yet, and doing lots of things gives you the experience to narrow the field.
    2. General support work tends to have its fingers in lots of different pies, so to speak.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  3. BosonJosh

    BosonJosh Gigabyte Poster

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    I get bored too easily to specialize in one or two things. I've instead built my career on being good at many different aspects of IT. I've worked as a network administrator, as a programmer, and as a technical writer. In all of those jobs, I've been better at doing many things than focusing on one thing for a very long period of time.

    Whether you specialize in one thing or not depends on what type of career you want to have. If you want to be the best database administrator or database designer you can be, you often need to focus very specifically on that task. Although, you should also be pretty fluent in administering servers, in my opinion, to help you understand the impact that the database will have on the server.

    Another thing to consider is the size of company you want to work for. Larger companies tend to have more specialized people, whereas smaller companies need more diverse people who can do several different things well. I happen to like working for smaller companies, so I tend to maintain a more diverse skillset.
     
  4. Wires_are_bad

    Wires_are_bad Nibble Poster

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    Very true Tripwire! I'm just finding it difficult to find my niche and stick to it. I enjoy working with Windows servers / workstations and AD design really interests me. Couple this with networking and I think I've found what I'd like to specialise in.

    I work with alot of Microsoft products so it only seems right to continue to focus on these. I have worried in the past about my lack of Linux / Unix experience so hopefully that doesn't hinder my future in IT.

    BosonJosh I think that with experience I'll continue to learn other aspects of IT, but I think I'm going to build on what I enjoy doing for the moment and just see where that takes me.
     
    Certifications: Bsc Business I.T (2:1)
    WIP: A+ and N+
  5. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    I've 'specialised' in three different areas in the ten years or so I've been in IT - Databases, Security and Virtualisation. I think the higher up the ladder you go you can end up going in one of two directions - highly specialised (thus limiting your opportunities career-wise but making them more lucrative when they do arise) or broadly proficient (more opportunities but less well-paid unless you want to manage people).

    Personally, having specialised for five of the last six years I am now comfortable in a more senior role that allows me to do different things at work and, hence, not get as bored. After the initial novelty of working in Security wore off and I'd put all the systems I needed to into place in my last job I got bored witless for the last eight months or so monitoring it all - I need to be challenged at work to find it rewarding and grepping through logfiles, monitoring IDSes and patching firewalls just didn't cut it for me!

    So, to answer your question more directly, rather than prevaricating, beating about the bush and over-egging the pudding... maybe :biggrin
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  6. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Me personally I started off in general IT, so learnt as I went along alot of things. However as you climb up the "ranks" I believe that you will become a:

    "Jack of some trades, master of some"

    Dependant on how your career goes, the IT field is so vast I don't believe that you'll cover all and to an extent you'll like a couple/few areas that you'll delve quite deeply in.

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  7. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Jack of all trades isn’t too bad and it’s handy when you want to try your hand at IT consultancy.

    I get a wide range of questions which can range from cabling the whole building with CAT5, adding a new phone system or restructuring the internal Windows domain.

    I will then bring in some people who specialise in certain areas such as cabling. I can patch in a few network points but I would not want to do the whole project myself. With the phone system I know the basics but again I will consult someone else who can make sure I’m on the right track and give me some recommendations for the customer. 8)
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  8. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Being a jack-of-all-trades has worked for me! :thumbleft
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  9. Jiser

    Jiser Kilobyte Poster

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    I think when your starting out its better to be dealing with a broad range of 'things', to be a jack of all trades as such.

    I haven't a clue what i want to do for the rest of my life yet but its I.T. at the moment and general support is what I do in at the mo in a School. As you tick the years of your portfolio grows, as does hopefully your certs/experience. Then as others have said you may find yourself managing or specializing as I have seen others do who I know in I.T.
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), PGc, MCTS:Win 7, MCSA W7/MCITP EDST, ITIL Foundation, Prince 2 Foundation, C&G: Web Design, MOS 07: Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook.

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