Levels of Mastery

There are several ways of measuring expertise and mastery. One common method is using tenure, for which there is a whole classification scheme that reflects relative competence fairly accurately. 

0 hours Novice – knowledge or skills that any reasonably intelligent layman possesses.

300 hours Apprentice – some skills, but can’t be trusted to do independent work. 

1,000 hours Journeyman – competent technician, capable of independent routine tasks. 

3,000 hours Master – proficient mechanic, capable of almost any task.

10,000 hours Expert – superior proficiency, capable of original work. 

30,000 hours Genius – legendary proficiency, capable of extraordinary original work. “

Jacob Lund Fisker 

As we know, not all hours invested are the same. For example, applying deliberate practice will greatly enhance speed at which someone acquires valuable skills compared to going through the motions. However, I like this general framework of progression towards mastery. 

I like it because, unlike the “10,000 hour rule” which became famous in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, it seems more attainable. 

For example, if you exercise or cook five days a week for an hour each time – you would have journeyman level competence in 4 years and mastery level competence in 11.5. 

With 6 hours invested in a skill per week someone can attain journeyman level competence in just over 3 years. Of course, if you are working a 40 hour workweek you will develop much faster – reaching this journeyman level proficiency in just six months.

For the modern renaissance man or woman, this is good news. The road to being proficient and respectable in what you are developing may not be as long as it appears.

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