Computer support technicians provide assistance to both individuals and organizations experiencing problems with software or hardware. Technical support specialists support the IT department within the organization while help desk technician support non-IT users with computer issues.
- Median Salary as of May 2010: $46,420 per year ($22.24 per hour)
- Education: Minimum of high school diploma or GED; associate’s degree preferred
- Work Experience: None required
- On-the-job training: usually provided for entry-level candidates
- Number of jobs as of May 2010: 607,100
- Job Outlook: Anticipated rate of growth is 18 percent from 2010 -2020, a rate that is about as fast as the average for most other occupations.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Computer Support Specialists, on the Internet at (visited April 17, 2012).
Specific duties of technical support specialists include:
- Test and evaluate existing network systems
- Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks operate correctly
- Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Internet systems
- Assist IT staff to analyze and troubleshoot networking problems
- Provide technical assistance via phone, email or, when necessary, site visits.
- Work under the supervision of computer systems administrators.
Specific duties of help desk technicians include:
- Listen to customers as they describe the computer problems they are experiencing
- Ask relevant questions to correctly diagnose the issue
- Support and advise customers with problem-solving
- Set-up or repair computer hardware and related equipment.
- Train customers on how to use computer hardware or software, including software (Word processing programs), installation, email, scanning and printing.
- If working within an organization, create reports on most often cited complaints and review with supervisors.
- May respond to request via email, phone support, or site visits.
- Help desk technicians solve a range of computer problems that vary with type of industry and the particular needs of each clients. Many help desk technicians work in the call center of software firms and computer manufacturers.
Education and Training
There are no mandatory certification requirements in Texas (or any state) to become a computer support technician. Education and training requirements vary by type of job. A bachelor’s degree is preferred by most employers for most advanced level technical jobs. Appropriate degrees include computer science, engineering or information science. Most help desk technician job openings require only a high school diploma or GED, although an associate’s degree in computer science information systems, or electronics is becoming increasingly necessary as competition for these jobs has intensified.. Many entry-level candidates receive some form of on-the-job training after hire that can last from 3 to 4 months or more.
Entry level computer support specialists may advance into such positions as network and computer systems administrators or software developers with advanced education and/or experience. Those with significant experience may advance into the role of mangers of computer departments.
While there is no mandatory certification to become a computer support technician in Texas, those who wish to work as technicians for Cisco, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Lenovo and other computer firms will first need to pursue CompTIA A+ certification. Although this certification is mandatory to work for these firms, it will also provide you with highly valuable credential no matter employer.
As per the Web site of CompTIA:
CompTIA A+ certification validates foundation-level knowledge and skills necessary for a career in IT support. It is the starting point for [such] a careers. The international vendor-neutral certification proves competence in areas such as installation preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting.
It is the vendor-neutral aspect of certification that makes it so valuable since these technicians will be able to work on a variety of computer systems and software. This is in contrast to Microsoft Certified engineers who are trained to work with only Microsoft products.
CompTIA A+ certified technicians need to pass two exams: CompTIA A+ Essentials, exam code 220-701; and CompTIA A+ Practical Application, exam code 220-702.
- CompTIA A+ Essentials measures the necessary competencies of an entry-level IT professional with a recommended 500 hours of hands-on experience in the lab or field. It tests for technical understanding of computer technology, networking and security, as well as the communication skills and professionalism now required of all entry-level IT professionals.
- CompTIA A+ Practical Application is an extension of the knowledge and skills identified in CompTIA A+ Essentials, with more of a “hands-on” orientation focused on scenarios in which troubleshooting and tools must be applied to resolve problems.
- The CompTIA A+ certification is accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The CompTIA A+ certification may be kept current through the CompTIA Continuing Educationprogram. The CompTIA A+ certification may be kept current through the CompTIA Continuing Education program.
Salary for Computer Support Specialists
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of computer support specialists was $46,260 as of May 2010. The lowest 10- percent earned less than $28,300 while the top 10 percent earned greater than $76,970.
While many computer support specialists work a full time schedule, however those who work in call centers may need to work evenings and weekends as well since these centers are typically open 24/7.