What Is Job Specialization?

by Wanda Thibodeaux; Updated September 26, 2017

All companies initially have to decide upon an overall organizational structure -- that is, they have to decide how many jobs they will have and what the exact responsibilities of each job will be. This means using job specialization, which is just one of the processes human resources uses to categorize employees.

Job Specialization Defined

Job specialization, also called work specialization or division of labor, is the process of separating all the activities necessary for the business or the organization into individual tasks. As part of this process, management -- working with the human resources department -- takes each task and assigns them to specific people/positions. The job descriptions human resources provides when they advertise open positions and hire new employees reflects job specialization.


Job specialization becomes more necessary the larger a company is. It is particularly beneficial in manufacturing, where each worker may participate in a single aspect of production. Companies also turn to job specialization any time activities are so complex that the business cannot rely on other employees to do a coworker's job.


When businesses use job specialization, every worker is an expert to some degree. Employees are able to refine the task for which they are responsible, resulting in increased efficiency and increased production. Because each employee concentrates on just a portion of all activities, quality control costs also decrease in theory. All these factors mean a higher revenue and profit potential for the business. They also sometimes allow workers to take greater pride in their work, as their jobs require specific skills others may not be able to do.


Even though job specialization creates experts, the experts cannot multitask. Specialization restricts them from filling in for someone who is gone. Subsequently, any company activity connected to what the absent expert does may suffer. Additionally, specialized workers have a smaller skill set in some cases than nonspecialized workers. With fewer skills, many employees find it harder to adapt and find other employment later.

About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.