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I have pondered about this depth vs breadth approach for some time. My path has made me a generalist who learns and does whatever I think is necessary in a given situation. This is great because I can do anything. But I envy the domain experts who do one (or a related few) things VERY well.

Perhaps it depends much on the mind of the person; I don't think I could just focus on one thing forever. But while the new shiny tech guys may seem to have more opportunities, I believe the domain experts may get paid more and have more of their career time spent as "recognized leaders".

It's probably good that people are all different, and both types (and all in between) exist.




I think it's also a risk tolerance thing.

To analogize, if you are a general carpenter, you can always find work, but it will be at a lower rate. However, it will be varied.

If you are a fine cabinet carpenter, your work will likely be more focused, possibly more repetitive, more lucrative, and harder to find (you'll have to seek out the folks who need really really nice cabinets).


Exactly. And maybe the grass is always greener, but sometimes I envy the COBOL guy who earns a small fortune doing something that doesn't involve learning a new language and framework every two years.


I work for a consultancy (both general consultancy and engineer), and the phrase they like to use is "a T-Shaped consultant". Meaning that you have a broad base of skills and one specialism. For us, most people fitting that model works pretty well.




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