Jack of All Trades, Master of None

The other day I was asked to help a colleague at the IAPP determine the profile of a typical candidate for a CIPP/IT certification. It started out with a simple question, “Help me understand the different classifications of IT professionals?” I thought this would be an easy exercise.

However, once I sat down and started to give it some thought, I was surprised to recognize the breadth and complexity of the IT profession. It was one of those seminal moments where the collection of everything you know on a topic suddenly comes together as one—and it made me shudder.

I used to consider myself a “jack of all trades” when it came to information technology and I meant it. My first job out of school included both software development (in Pascal) and network administration (Novell Netware 2.12) and I continued on that dual path off and on through a handful of jobs. Having done both development and administration left me with the impression that I had done it all. The reality though was that my knowledge was a mile wide and only an inch deep.

I can recall, a decade into my career, telling people in interviews how I could do “everything IT.” Ugh! I must have seemed so damn arrogant. Fortunately that was a long time ago.

To end this public airing of my past arrogance and get to something useful in this post, here is an outline of the IT classifications I came up with:

 
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