Theoritical or practical working knowledge – which is important?

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It is a common argument between many technicians, especially in India, who think one way or the other, saying theoretical knowledge or practical working knowledge in IT is important.

First of all, this difference has been decided by individuals and not at a high level. There is only one kind of knowledge, that doesn’t differentiate between theory or practical. Let’s say someone has knowledge of how something works by some books or knowledge acquired from Internet, and another person has knowledge acquired by working on systems who practically can solve any technical problem if you take your system to him. Which one do you think will survive or has better knowledge? My argument would be neither one would survive or do something big in IT Industry if they work the same way.

Knowledge, when acquired is attained by understanding each and every component and is a combination of theory and practical knowledge. The person who has practical knowledge only will never be able to tell you the theoretical aspects unless he reads too about the technology, what an OS is designed to achieve, what are its limitations, etc. Similarly, a person who has only theory knowledge may not be able to do some hardcore practical stuffs which needs hands on training.

The reason why I’m so confident about this topic is because I have come across both kinds of people and I haven’t seen them at a bigger place since they are doing the same thing from quite a long time. One IT technician whom I know personally can practically solve any kind of problems, can find out if a SATA HDD is non-functional by hearing the sound of it but he doesn’t know the theoretical concepts of different technologies, namely WLAN, IEEE, etc. and so many things in the real world of technology. As a result, he still has a small shop from which he keeps earning almost the same income from years, and might remain the same in the years to come.

To conclude, my suggestion is when you acquire theoretical knowledge, also learn the practical knowledge in your lab experimenting different things. This is very useful when doing a course from an IT institute and we can learn practical and theory concepts together. But beware, not all institutes will tell you all the theory or practical concepts; there are a few things which require self-learning.



Iam a Microsoft Certified IT Professional with certifications in Active Directory, Network Infrastructure and Server 2008. Apart from passion for learning new technologies, I speak German and very much interested in sharing my knowledge, whether it is German or Information Technology.

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