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Does the saying jack of all trades master of none apply to IT?

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by Juelz, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. Juelz

    Juelz Gigabyte Poster

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    I often look at IT jobs just to get an incite on what employers are looking for. I often see they want a multiple skillset instead of wanting someone to be the ultimate powershell guru. My dad has always used the term to describe his brother who is a tradesman who can do many things from plumbing to carpentry.. my dad who has a specific trade has always said my uncle is a jack of all trades but master of none (sibling rivalry between my dad and uncle has been there from as long as I can remember) Do you think being a jack of all trades in IT is actually better than being a master of one?
    WIP: A+
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  2. Apexes

    Apexes Gigabyte Poster

    I think it depends on what side of IT you go in to. i think IT is too broad to pin it on one or the other.

    Take me as an example. I'm and End User Computing engineer, I'm a master in one trade - System Center 2012 (specifically configuration manager). However - i also manage group policies, active directory, servers - and am the technical lead for new product implementations.

    I'd say i'm a Jack of a few trades, master in one.

    I personally think that everyone in IT has their strong subject, and tends to know a lot in the immediate vicinity of where their product operates. It'd be rare to find someone who's a VMWare expert who would also be strong in using SCCM (SimonD you're excluded from this statement! ;D)

    I know what you mean re: the jobs - i had the same on my last appointment, but for me what got me the job was my certification and experience in SCCM over the other area's - and my job kind of adpated to mainly SCCM.

    If you're looking at the entry level jobs, then i'd agree that a jack of all trades is a strong point because those jobs would focus on the all round end user support where knowing multiple things may be of benefit.

    Obviously you then get your job specific roles, network engineer may only rely on having a CCNA and zero windows knowledge. (we have some of these guys at our place, they wouldn't even be able to tell you how to change a printer driver, but they'll design and build a whole network on a command line)
    Certifications: 70-243 MCTS: ConfigMgr 2012 | MCSE: Private Cloud
  3. reverb

    reverb Byte Poster

    I started off as a jack of all trades - dabbled in a lot of stuff (Windows, Linux, ESXi, pbx, printers etc) but I couldn't say i was an "expert" in everything I was doing but very comfortable in some. This is usually the case where you work in a small-ish environment as a solo IT person or 2 person IT team. It's good to a degree because you get a lot of exposure (at least initially in your career) but over time I personally think it's just better to master one to a few things rather than be a jack of all trades.

    I experienced this first hand, I work in a Linux environment and I had to do a lot of catching up with my peers despite working with Linux over a longer period of time than some. In contrast, they used to work with it everyday whereas before I was working with it whenever I needed to which could be every other day, so didn't learn as much or quickly enough. I don't think I would have the same knowledge and skills in Linux I do now if I stuck with my old job. It would take over a period of 6 years at the rate I working at to gain the same knowledge.

    It also depends whether you like to dabble with different tech, so a jack of all trades role might be ideal. There's nothing wrong with that.
  4. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

    Even if you are a jack of all trades there will be certain areas you are stronger in.

    I started with Windows infrastructure as my core skill but now I’m doing more VOIP work which involves network infrastructure design (VLANs, packet shaping etc.).

    The next project I have lined up is a full domain migration which covers all the usual Windows migration tasks (DC, App server) but will also include a migration to Office 365 with Skype for business being used heavily.

    So being a jack of all trades can be a good thing sometimes! :)
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Office 365, Server 2016, CEH
  5. JK2447
    Highly Decorated Member Award 500 Likes Award

    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

    Course it applies, there's loads of jack of all trades jobs. I work for a big firm and they try to reduce this by having you specilise or work on a team with strict boundaries, that said they we're all jack of all trades to a degree. It does help to have one area you're especially good at just as a talking point if nothing else. I do a bit of everything but I focus on VMware etc always goes down well in my experience
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV, VSP, VTSP
    WIP: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
  6. Apexes

    Apexes Gigabyte Poster

    Love these, done 2 over the last 3 years, huge projects but enjoy working on these projects
    Certifications: 70-243 MCTS: ConfigMgr 2012 | MCSE: Private Cloud
  7. Monkeychops

    Monkeychops Kilobyte Poster

    It's all about having 'T shaped' skills now ;)

    Broad range of knowledge overall (the horizontal line of the T), then having deep knowledge in one area (the vertical line).

    Least that's what my current place seem to be spouting...
  8. KanduIT-Scott

    KanduIT-Scott New Member

    I think it applies ... In 25 years I've learned lots about loads of little things but have no specialist areas at all
  9. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster

    I still class myself as being a jack of all trades, although I now specialise more in the VMware stack than anything else, what I mean by that is that I have a decent understanding of lots of different technologies (Microsoft, Linux, Networking) but am definitely specialising in VMware now (having a decent Sys Admin skill set is important for any decent Virtualisation engineer).
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
  10. Wilki0903

    Wilki0903 Bit Poster

    I'm kind of a Jack of all trades at the moment but I'm coming to a point where I feel I have to choose my specialism. I'm Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, wi-fi, MDM, small and large projects, VMware and Citrix VDI experienced. I have certifications from IT Essentials, CompTIA A+ Hardware & Software, Windows MCSE 2003 exposure (never certified but studied heavily) Apple Certified Support Professional and Apple Certified Technical Coordinator 2015. Ive been studying CCNA at College since sept 2015. It's a 15 month course approx 15 hours per week.

    My IT experience is comprehensive and goes back 12 years starting with general IT support deploying Windows client server networks with 200+ PC's to several hundred cross platform end user devices and 100's of windows servers.

    I have recently spoken to an IT recruitment company who pretty much said my experience would not appeal to a big company. I'm not sure what this means. I thought that progressive experience was a good thing and big companies would need confident multi-skilled engineers. This hit me a little as they basically said certifications mean nothing.

    I'm continuing my study and moving on to CCNA Security in Jan 2017.

    I guess that one day I will move on and my certificates will do me justice and prove my worth. I learn so much from the courses and I feel I stand out from my other IT colleagues as they rely on me as their source of knowledge and experience when times become tough for them.

    Any advice is very much welcome
    Certifications: Cisco CCNA R&Sv3, CompTIA A+, Apple Certified Professional, Apple Certified Technical Co-Ordinator
    WIP: Cisco CCNA CyberOps, CCNA Security, VMware vsphere v6.5

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