IT Specialist or Jack of All Trades?


IT professionals typically fall into one of two categories: specialists and generalists. When choosing one path, it can be difficult to move into the other, and most IT pros feel pressure to make a choice very early in their careers. However, IT professionals should take heart. One path is not any better or worse than the other. Each has value, and the choice really comes down to personal preferences and goals.

The IT Generalist

In South Florida, IT generalists are often found in small and medium-sized businesses. These companies typically don’t have the need for specialists. Instead, a team of generalists are called upon to handle the workload. Generalists have to know a little about a lot, and their workdays are rarely ever the same. One day they may work on virtual desktops, the next they could be managing a cloud application, and another day they may focus on server administration.

Generalists often have a great deal of responsibility, even at the entry and mid-level, because their company relies so heavily upon them to keep things up and running smoothly. They wear many different hats, which means some days the work will be relatively unchallenging, and other days the work will be extremely challenging.

The IT Specialist

IT specialists in South Florida are often found in large enterprises where the IT departments are broken down into focused, specialized teams. Each team typically has a singular function like networking, desktops, helpdesk, app support, data security, database administration, etc. When teams are structured in this way, each person must have highly specialized knowledge and they must know the products they support like the back of their hand.

Specialists must have a true passion for their area of focus, as there is rarely any opportunity to deviate into other subject matters.

How to Choose The Right Path For You

Most IT specialists start out as generalists. They typically find a subject matter that interests them or maximizes their talents, and then focus on developing their skills in that area. There is no set list of pros and cons that can guide an IT professional down a career path. No matter how it happens, there are significant advantages to choosing the specialist path, especially when working in an in-demand field. Salaries are typically higher for specialists and the opportunities are often greater. Specialists are more likely to “write their own tickets” than generalists.

The responsibilities of every IT job are unique and vary from company to company. The scope of work and the salary a professional can command depend upon geographic location, the size of the company, and the experience of the professional.

When it comes to making the choice between the generalist path and the specialist path, decide where your skills lie, the types of work environment you prefer, and your long-term goals. In order to maximize your salary and find a job that will speak to your interests and goals, it can help to work with an IT recruiter. Reach out to a recruiter at CERS today to start the conversation. We would love to talk to you about the ways in which we can help you reach your career goals.

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