Should I generalize or specialize in my career?
“I believe designers are all designers not just one type. An organization does this (narrow a designers scope) to help better define the individual and role but in reality a designer should understand many roles”
I think it mostly comes down to personality. We have two things here. The first is who you are, as a person. What are your interests and skills. What do you have to offer and what makes you happy.
Then the second thing is what the world needs. Or rather, what do the people that you know what have money need. It’s easier to hire a specialist at a big company. A small company can use a generalist more.
To it really comes down to you, what can you do, and what do you want?
I’ve got some specific talking points here that we can argue over.
It’s Easier to Specialize
- Less to learn, remember, and keep up on.
- Doesn’t take as long to be useful in just one thing, generalizing takes time.
- Competitive field? You might be better off specializing, corner a niche market and only focus on that specific field.
- Specialists can work faster, move on to the next thing and make more money.
- Higher quality work / charge more per piece. Do you buy a rolex at walmart?
- The more possibilities you have for generating income, which increase as you generalize, the less you will suffer during economic hard times, and the easier it will be to generate income. When the specialist is tapping a dried well.
- Sell add-ons (Design AND Build the website)
- what if your chosen speciality is no longer in demand?
- You are more capable to push the boundaries of a skill, because it can be influenced by the other things you study.
- Harder for others to do exactly what you do, not really a replaceable part.
- Easier to sell yourself. People put you in boxes.
- Companies often look to fill a role.
- Skill set is clearly defined, not vague like a generalist
- Cal newport says that passion comes from being good at your work, not the other way around.
- Easier to get 10,000 hours if you do the same thing all the time.
- Flow is easier to come by when you are not distracted
- Don’t get bored a lot, avoid burnout
- more opportunities to find something that really resonates with you
- meet all kinds of different people
Whichever path you take, push yourself outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. You might end up stagnating if you don’t. Pushing your boundaries helps you grow by necessitating more learning, researching, and studying, and it will keep you motivated and energized in your career.
Does it have to be one or the other? I’ve noticed that I was more scattered earlier in my career. And over time learned to focus myself. I had very real and specific talks about this topic with friends and colleagues. It ends up, everyone just kinda does what they do.
There is also the concept of the T-shaped designer. One who has a competency in a vast many topics, but can dive really deep on one or two specialities.