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Specialist or Multi Skilled - what is your opinion...

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by BraderzTheDog, May 30, 2014.

  1. BraderzTheDog

    BraderzTheDog Kilobyte Poster

    Hi Gents,

    Been a while since I posted, thought I would see what your thoughts are on the matter...

    So where would you rather be?

    1. Many skills across multiple platforms - Cisco / Microsoft / Virtualisation / Storage / Backup / Design - This is more of an architect role.

    2. Specialist - Highly skilled in a particular product or vendor such as Cisco or VMware - I see this as 3rd line / senior engineering role.

    What are the reasons for your choice? Also where do you see this fitting into your career and do you see this as progression or recession?

    I'll start the ball rolling.

    Personally - I take more of the Specialist role, and can see myself moving further in this direction. Understanding the low level element of projects / design and still following this through to implementation. I find more interest in understanding in-depth technical elements such as BGP design for service provider networks, rather than architectural understanding of many concepts and technologies but from a high level perspective.

    I know generally architects are seen as higher up the scale than engineers, and probably as career progression.

    Where do you stand and what do you think about each type of role? Perhaps you have a different interpretation?
  2. FlashDangerpants

    FlashDangerpants Byte Poster

    It always worries me to see people picking specialities on their 3rd day in the IT business. Guys who don't know the difference between Outlook and Exchange, or a router and a network card, aren't yet in a position to decide which niche to mine.

    I also used to worry a little that there are so many people in IT sales who used to be Netware engineers but couldn't transition when that horse died under them.

    Specialising is unavoidable, but don't choose what to be until you know what you are rejecting. (Advice which isn't pointed at Braderz, he already knows.)
    Certifications: MCITP Exchange 2010, MCSA Svr 2012
    WIP: Exchange 2013
  3. JK2447
    Highly Decorated Member Award 500 Likes Award

    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

    Easy one for me this, multi skilled to begin with, this pads out your CV, ticks all the boxes, gets you exposure to a lot of technologies so that later if required, you can tailor your CV. Then later specialise, so that you can hopefully earn the big bucks and master something, but for me, if you haven't been a general master to begin with, you'll never be a great specialist. IMHO. Now get the Froch Groves fight on! ha ha
    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
    Arroryn, Rob1234 and BraderzTheDog like this.
  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    I started out a C++ specialist, then later Java, and then C#. Only ~10 years into my career did I start to focus on more general skills.

    Some of this was necessary due to the technical nature of C++ development, but looking back I think getting some general exposure sooner is better.

    Ultimately I think you need both, being too narrow means you lack vision and oversight, it is also a high risk strategy in a volatile industry.
    Being too broad means you are only fit for meetings and powerpoints and cant have any real insight into the application of technology.
    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  5. rocdamike

    rocdamike Byte Poster Gold Member

    I agree with jk2447. I think being a generalist at the start is the best way. I've just done my first year in IT and I need to be aware of multiple technologies before I can even make a concious decision on what to specialise in. After that I'll try and specialise. The only risk with specialisation is that if a certain technology becomes obsolete and you can't transfer the skills, then you're in a predicament.
    Certifications: F5 CTS, LTM | F5-CA | CCNA: Sec | CCNA: R&S | ITIL Foundation
    WIP: AWS Solutions Architect
    jk2447 likes this.
  6. BraderzTheDog

    BraderzTheDog Kilobyte Poster

    Good to see everyone's thoughts on the matter.

    I noticed its quite relevant to where you are in your career as to the decision being made.

    For the people quite new or still undecided in their path, generalisation appears to be the favourite.
  7. Monkeychops

    Monkeychops Kilobyte Poster

    Started off as a generalist, then over the years focus has narrowed pretty much with each new role down to the point where my main thing now is one specific product set from on specific vendor in a very particular area. That's over a period of about 11 years or so.

    Not done me any harm and I enjoy it, a lot of skills are transferable though which helps if I did want to go and do something else, as well as the fact that the company is large enough can pretty much work towards any sort of position you like.
  8. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

    I'm a generalist, and would like to become a specialist. The problem is, with generalising, I keep on stumbling across new technologies and going "ooh, I'll do that". Having the attention span of a kitten is not beneficial to developing a career in IT.
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  9. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

    Each to their own but many skills has worked for me so far.

    If I’m working on a big project I can hire a specialist if there is a skills gap in a particular area. For example I’m working on a coexistence datacentre project just now so I am working with a chap at the datacentre that can give me the information I need for the customer.

    Also you can add skills that will make you money – simple as that. I’ve moved into phones\telephony over the last two years as you can pick up the consultancy work for VLANs\WAN connectivity and also install the PBX yourself to get the install fee. Maintenance not to the same level as servers etc. so can’t complain.
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Office 365, Server 2016, CEH

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