Monday, December 22, 2014

The Generalist or the Specialist: Which Approach Should You Take?

Those embarking on their career, or a new career, may want to understand what type of training or education is likely to lead to higher levels of pay and performance. Some will skip college and become specialists while others will move through a broader education and become generalists. A few may do both. Each has their advantages and weaknesses in the short and long-term and career enthusiasts should consider both.

A young person graduates high school and must make a decision between obtaining certificates and entering the workforce or frequenting a college. Specialists are easier to train and don't often required a lengthy college education which can be an advantage for those not willing to take on debt. However, it can also leave a person less likely to be promoted in the future. 

 Adaptability of Skills

Generalists are more adaptive than specialists and offer opportunities for greater levels flexibility in a changing market.  The broad based skills are more transferable and portable across both industries and companies. Specialists are focused on a particular function and may not always be able to easily apply those skills to other companies thereby limiting their opportunities. 

Specializing and Wages

Specialists typically earn more money in the beginning of their careers when compared to generalists. As a specialist in demand oriented markets like technical support the specialist can make a lot of money with certificates and training. As the skill sets become broader the more time it makes to earn higher wages.

Management and Generalist Skills

At the management level the generalist skill takes precedence in promotion. Generalists have a wide range of experiences and skills that help them manage other people. A specialist will be more limited in their perspectives and knowledge. For those seeking to eventually move into management and executive positions the generalist approach is a better long-term avenue. 

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