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When Would You Consider Yourself An Expert?

the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
Today at work I was thinking about at what point would you consider yourself an expert on a piece of technology? Some of the work I've been doing could be useful in a consulting role, but my fear is that I won't have an immediate answer without doing some research. A lot of the technology doesn't have certifications and not that a cert in and of itself makes you an expert, but it certainly helps in that realm. Just looking for some thoughts!
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    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    its hard to say, but when your peers start coming to you for advice, and its no question in your organization who to ask about a particular subject.
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    NOC-NinjaNOC-Ninja Member Posts: 1,403
    Different people, different opinions. I think someone is an expert if they can answer the technical questions at that time without researching or very little research. They can also deploy and connects the dots of the whole network.

    The more I read and lab, the more i find out my strength and weaknesses. Also, I find out my co-workers strength and weaknesses. We are only humans so we forget some technologies. This is why we have to read and lab most of the time. I still study on nights and weekends. icon_study.gif
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    DevilWAHDevilWAH Member Posts: 2,997 ■■■■■■■■□□
    shodown wrote: »
    its hard to say, but when your peers start coming to you for advice, and its no question in your organization who to ask about a particular subject.

    I think this is it, being an expert is relative to the people you work with. For example I know that networking I can make a novice starting out in its head spin with what i know, but I also know there are a number of people on here that can make me feel very small and stupid, and there are people who work in cutting edge development that make them look like novices.

    So who is the expert here?

    Shodown is right the expert is the person you go to for help, and you can be the expert to some people by the novice to others on a single subject. What I do know is that very few people can give a complete answer with out doing any research, and the best consultants are the ones that admit this. The experts are the ones that know what research they need to do, can have enough understanding of a topic that they don't wast time running in to blind alleys.

    I think you know you are an expert when you can stand up to your peers and confidently argue your point. you don't have to know every configuration possible on a system, just know why you would make them if they were presented to you. I think once you have the core fundamentals of a technology fully under stood, under stand the reason it was developed, and can design and configure a straight forward installation (main operationally configuration with out every single optermisation possible that 99% of installations will only use 1% of) with out assistance in a live environment you can start seeing your self on the ladder as an expert. But just have to relise that from then on its a never ending ladder that you will never reach the top off.
    • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties. It means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.
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    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    No - Very few people are IMO. My best skills are managing schedules of projects and MS Excel. Even in those not an expert. Power User maybe.......


    Shodown hit it pretty good. Most people never achieve that level.
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    Asif DaslAsif Dasl Member Posts: 2,116 ■■■■■■■■□□
    You are not an expert when you know a little about a lot, but you are an expert when you know a lot about a little.

    That is to say, when you specialize in a topic then you can be called an expert. Even if there are more knowledgeable people.. even someone like Einstein didn't get the full answer to everything - nobody can know everything but you can know a lot about a few topics - then you are an expert IMO.
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    NightShade03NightShade03 Member Posts: 1,383 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I think its also hard to become an expert depending on your career choices. For example, if you work as a sales engineer and your organization has say 250 partners icon_wink.gif It's hard to become a master at something when there are a million things you are expected to know.

    I know a lot about the cloud...I meant a lot. However I still don't consider myself an expert. You can also have people come to you as the "expert", but still feel uncomfortable being called that too.
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    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    interesting conversation. I'm a big believer in the 10,000 hour rule. I know a lot of people have debunked it, or thrown some shade at it, but as I get closer to the 10,000 hour mark in VoIP, I can feel myself coming up with solutions quicker, and even ones I never considered before if I get asked the right questions. I also feel that it depends on who your talking to. When I'm with my clients they feel i'm an expert and call me when they are in trouble and I can get the job done with high satisfaction. When I'm at cisco live, I look like I don't even know what i'm doing. So its all relative to where you are.
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    DevilWAHDevilWAH Member Posts: 2,997 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Asif Dasl wrote: »
    You are not an expert when you know a little about a lot, but you are an expert when you know a lot about a little.

    That is to say, when you specialize in a topic then you can be called an expert. Even if there are more knowledgeable people.. even someone like Einstein didn't get the full answer to everything - nobody can know everything but you can know a lot about a few topics - then you are an expert IMO.

    So was Einstein a expert in quantum physics? he only new about a small part of the field (as is the case with almost all scientists), and indeed himself said he actually knew very little but understood a lot. But most people consider him and the likes of Hawkins as experts in quantum physics, although chose a topic at random in the field and there are plenty of people better than them.
    Takings the hawking's example, most fellow scientists would consider him an expert in quantum physics, but if you want to be picky he is only an expect in a specific area around the area of gravitational theoretically physics. the rest he is pretty much average.

    then you have the likes of Eratosthenes, named as the "beta" man, because he was know as the second best at every thing.

    Again it goes back to what you are trying to say you are an expert of, and who you are comparing your self to.

    If you want an expert at managing IT solution delivery, then the expert is likely to be the person who knows a fair amount about a lot, rather than a lot about a little. A room full of 50 IT engineers can have 500 separate "experts".

    I remeber at work we use to have the following levels

    Novice - Cant do
    Beginner - Can do under supervision
    Confident - Can carry out task alone.
    Advanced - Is able to teach others
    Expert - Is able to Develop/Design the system

    Now I can say I am an expert in logging on to a PC, because there is not one who can do so better than me. not only can I teach others to do it, but I can alter the experience for others logging on. But in all honesty who really care if you are an expert in that or not. ITs not going to get you a job.

    That the thing about being an expert, its both easy and impossible to achieve, because as a word it means nothing. An expert at what? and compared to what? AS here people have as wide a range of opinions as what a expert is as the skills ranges some one might possess.

    Simple thing is even the best expert some times gets stuck and/or makes mistakes, its having the skills and confidence to recover from them that will stand you in good stead as a consultent.
    • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties. It means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.
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    UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,564 Mod
    The word 'expert' doesn't matter. Some people think they are experts, some don't. Some people think you are an expert, some don't.

    Some people think that knowing everything about a certain technology or 'field' makes them expert, others think that the ability to learn new stuff makes them expert. Others measure their level of expertise with that of their colleagues or peers. It's all perspective.

    I think it's more to do with ego than anything else.

    Is Bill Gates an expert? He sure has more money than everyone in this forum combined icon_lol.gif
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    MTciscoguyMTciscoguy Member Posts: 552
    No matter how much I have learned, the one most important thing I have learned is there is always someone who know more than I do, so I will never reach a point where I consider myself an expert.
    Current Lab: 4 C2950 WS, 1 C2950G EI, 3 1841, 2 2503, Various Modules, Parts and Pieces. Dell Power Edge 1850, Dell Power Edge 1950.
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    DevilWAHDevilWAH Member Posts: 2,997 ■■■■■■■■□□
    MTciscoguy wrote: »
    No matter how much I have learned, the one most important thing I have learned is there is always someone who know more than I do, so I will never reach a point where I consider myself an expert.

    Knowing more than every one else is not the definition on an expert. Take racing as a sport, every one of the drivers on the grid on an F1 race are Expert drivers, and indeed any professional race-driver of any series who is having a successful career is an Expert.

    Guru, Master, Genius are reserved for the people who stand out in a particular field about the crowd, Expert is some one who has demonstrated they can be relied on by others.
    • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties. It means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.
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    MTciscoguyMTciscoguy Member Posts: 552
    DevilWAH wrote: »
    Knowing more than every one else is not the definition on an expert. Take racing as a sport, every one of the drivers on the grid on an F1 race are Expert drivers, and indeed any professional race-driver of any series who is having a successful career is an Expert.

    Guru, Master, Genius are reserved for the people who stand out in a particular field about the crowd, Expert is some one who has demonstrated they can be relied on by others.


    Okay, what ever you say.
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    colemiccolemic Member Posts: 1,569 ■■■■■■■□□□
    MTciscoguy wrote: »
    No matter how much I have learned, the one most important thing I have learned is there is always someone who know more than I do, so I will never reach a point where I consider myself an expert.

    ...so by that logic, there are no experts, anywhere, in anything.
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    lsud00dlsud00d Member Posts: 1,571
    colemic wrote: »
    ...so by that logic, there are no experts, anywhere, in anything.

    I don't think that's what he's saying. It's more of a humbling approach to the more you know, the more you really don't know--an effort to broaden your depth and breadth of knowledge.

    I have a Rule of 3's I've come up with--I've thought about writing a short book around the technique but I haven't devoted much time to it.

    Essentially, start with a topic, and then choose 3 things about it. Then for each of those items, choose 3 aspects of those. Continue on, branching out left, right, and continuing downward. Some branches will not be as long or detailed as others but you will be able to demonstrate a bigger picture with this technique. In addition in the US, a common writing style taught in school is the 3.5 essay--3 main points introduced over 5 paragraphs (intro, point 1, point 2, point 3, conclusion). This Rule of 3's plays in to that comfortable rhythm that we established as children (culturally).
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    MTciscoguyMTciscoguy Member Posts: 552
    colemic wrote: »
    ...so by that logic, there are no experts, anywhere, in anything.

    You did notice that I spoke about myself and not any other person, right? Before I retired from the Army, I was considered and expert in urban combat tactics and taught those skills at training camps, I never considered myself an expert, that was a title given to me by my peers and there were others that knew what I did, and more, we were always striving to learn more and evolve with the times.
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    the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Thanks for all the replies! I was looking at it from the angel of consulting on the side. But I tend to think that I should be alright and even better if I continue to sharpen my skills.
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    Kai123Kai123 Member Posts: 364 ■■■□□□□□□□
    That's a good question!

    Generally, the more someone knows a specific topic, the more they develop a sense of doubt in their knowledge. There’s an academic word for this but I can’t remember it.



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    lsud00dlsud00d Member Posts: 1,571
    Kai123 wrote: »
    There’s an academic word for this but I can’t remember it.

    I'm not sure which one you're reaching for but I prefer the philosopher's angle of Socratic Ignorance

    http://www.roangelo.net/logwitt/socratic-ignorance.html

    I like using this in interviews as my "weakness" question as it's a great way to turn it into a positive while demonstrating some academia retention icon_wink.gif
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    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    I consider myself an expert in a few technologies. Personally I think if you can intelligently discuss, implement, and troubleshoot a technology at the advanced level you can consider yourself an expert in it.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
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    DevilWAHDevilWAH Member Posts: 2,997 ■■■■■■■■□□
    MTciscoguy wrote: »
    that was a title given to me by my peers

    Exactly, you are defined an expert by others.
    • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties. It means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.
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    MTciscoguyMTciscoguy Member Posts: 552
    DevilWAH wrote: »
    Exactly, you are defined an expert by others.

    But the question is: "When would you consider yourself an Expert"
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    PurpleITPurpleIT Member Posts: 327
    I consider myself an expert in a few technologies. Personally I think if you can intelligently discuss, implement, and troubleshoot a technology at the advanced level you can consider yourself an expert in it.

    The key thing that seems to be tripping some people up is being AN expert, not THE expert.

    Personally, I haven't spent much time dwelling on this subject, but I might say I'm an expert when I have more answers than questions.
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    DeathmageDeathmage Banned Posts: 2,496
    NOC-Ninja wrote: »
    I still study on nights and weekends. icon_study.gif

    I feel all I do is study but the thing is my passion is IT and technology so I'm not getting burned out....

    it's just so much fun and then I get the crash.gif moments and I break my mice... (I have about 5 spares in the closet at all times)...
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    DevilWAHDevilWAH Member Posts: 2,997 ■■■■■■■■□□
    MTciscoguy wrote: »
    But the question is: "When would you consider yourself an Expert"

    At work I consider my self the on site expert in networking. But when I am talking to some of our support engineers I consider myself a novice. I don't think of "expert" being a constant thing, you take on the role of an expert or that of the novice depending on the situation and move between them as needed.
    • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties. It means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.
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    MTciscoguyMTciscoguy Member Posts: 552
    DevilWAH wrote: »
    At work I consider my self the on site expert in networking. But when I am talking to some of our support engineers I consider myself a novice. I don't think of "expert" being a constant thing, you take on the role of an expert or that of the novice depending on the situation and move between them as needed.

    Exactly, you are I are talking about the same thing, we are just wording it differently. The term "Expert" is a moving target.
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    ZartanasaurusZartanasaurus Member Posts: 2,008 ■■■■■■■■■□
    The humble thing to say is that you never consider yourself an expert because there's always people that know more than you do. And I genuinely feel this way about myself. I think it's what motivates the people on this board to continually improve, because we know there's a next step we can take. But the truth of it is, most of us are experts compared to the majority of people we work with in these technologies. Not just for what we already know, but how quickly we can pick up new things and put 2+2 together for things we don't completely understand.
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    --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    shodown wrote: »
    its hard to say, but when your peers start coming to you for advice, and its no question in your organization who to ask about a particular subject.

    This standard makes being an expert relative. I think a better phrasing would be when the body of people from your industry recognize you as a reliable source of advanced knowledge in a subject.
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    DeathmageDeathmage Banned Posts: 2,496
    I consider myself an expert in subject matter when I start second guessing issues that I know are fixed but then don't work only to go back over things over and over again only to find out the problem was an underlying issue from a different area that ties into the area your working on currently.

    It's at those times that Keep it Simple Stupid eludes me...troubleshooting issues over and over again makes you realize your an expert in that subject matter because you sometimes check things 3 to 5 times before you vet them. icon_bounce.gif
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    KronesKrones Member Posts: 164
    When you are the author of an RFC or its equivalent in whatever field of study that is generally accepted by other peers that are also considered experts at such a level.
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    d4nz1gd4nz1g Member Posts: 464
    Expert is the guy who knows how to use his skills.
    For example, in technical knowledge, I am just a newbie; but I know how to use "what" I know when needed.
    You don't need to be the "guy-who-knows-everything" in the field, but you need to know how to handle your ****.
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