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Is It Better To Specialize or Generalize?

Have you considered the pros or cons of specializing in a narrow field compared to that of becoming a generalist in your industry? Here are some of them;

Business Analysts

Business analysts may specialize as domain business analysts or choose the more general information technology (IT) business analyst career path.

IT business analysts don't specialize in specific domains because they analyze and specify computer software or hardware solutions for any domain including operations, healthcare, engineering, sales & marketing, finance, insurance etc.

Domain business analysts have general IT business analysis skills in addition to the specialized skills, experience, background or training required for specific domains like insurance, finance, healthcare, etc.

Computer Programmers

PHP, Java or Microsoft .NET Computer Programmers are not specialized computer programmers.

On the other hand, SharePoint developers are specialized Microsoft programmers with the same general programming skills as Microsoft .NET software developers and additional, specialized, SharePoint software development skills.

Similarly, WordPress developers are PHP & MySQL developers who specialize in the WordPress area of PHP development.

Read about becoming a specialized Microsoft SharePoint Developer here.

Database Developers

Database developers working on Online, Transaction Processing (OLTP) systems including Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) like Microsoft SQL Server have generalized database development skills.

On the hand, Data Warehouse developers have additional skills that include building de-normalized Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) databases.

A Data Warehousing career is a specialized database development career that requires general relational database skills as well as specialized data-warehousing database skills.

Read about becoming a data warehouse developer here.

Another example is becoming a specialized Database Administrator (DBA), like a GIS DBA.

A DBA is responsible for managing / administering any corporate database. A GIS DBA on the other hand, is a DBA who specializes in Geographic / Geospatial Information Systems.

Read more about becoming a GIS DBA here.

Before choosing a specialized or generalized career, consider this

  1. Learning Curve: Consider the additional costs in terms of money and time, of studying for a specialized career versus that of a generalized career.

  2. Job Prospects: Evaluate the number of jobs available to specialists to that of generalists in your industry.

  3. Step By Step: Try working as a generalist first before specializing as that will help you gather the experience or domain knowledge require for specialization in some instances.


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