Computer support specialists help set up and resolve problems with computer hardware and software, generally at the desktop level. Technical support specialists often work as part of a larger IT organization and may do hands-on work setting up computers and networks. Those who assist end-users with computer problems or questions are often called help desk technicians, computer support technicians or computer support specialists. This is not always a 9-to-5 job as most companies require 24/7 support.
National Salary Overview
The median salary for computer support specialists in 2010 was $46,260, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% of earners made more than $76,970, while the bottom 10% made under $28,300. These numbers are significantly below average compared to other computer positions, which had a median salary of $73,710 in the same year. It is much higher than the average of all jobs in the United States, which have a median salary of $33,840 per year.
As with most other jobs, salaries can vary from one state to another. Following is a list of the median salaries for a dozen states in 2010. The numbers in brackets represent the bottom and top ten-percent thresholds, corresponding to the national statistics:
- Massachusetts: $56,400 ($36,900 to $90,200)
- California: $52,300 ($31,100 to $87,200)
- New York: $50,600 ($30,800 to $84,400)
- Washington: $49,300 ($31,900 to $83,600)
- Texas: $47,000 ($28,600 to $80,400)
- Oregon: $46,300 ($30,800 to $71,500)
- National: $46,260 ($28,300 to $76,960)
- Arizona: $45,000 ($28,500 to $72,200)
- Georgia: $44,500 ($25,900 to $71,700))
- Michigan: $43,200 ($25,900 to $69,100)
- Ohio: $42,000 ($26,900 to $68,100)
- Tennessee: $42,000 ($27,300 to $65,200)
- Florida: $40,700 ($26,800 to $63,700)
To see how your state compares to these numbers, you can find more information at CareerOneStop.
Salaries Based on Experience
According to recent surveys at PayScale, a computer support specialist with less than five years of experience can expect to earn anywhere between $26,000 and $57,000. Those with between five and ten years experience generally earn between $30,000 and $55,000. Those with more than ten years experience can earn between $31,000 and $74,000.
Salaries by Certification
According to Payscale surveys, salaries can vary widely even among support specialists with the same certifications. For example, someone with a CompTIA A+ certification may earn between $30,00 and $55,000. Those with a CompTIA Network+ certification can earn between $27,000 and $55,000. Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) can earn between $26,000 and $70,000.
Salaries by Industry
Salaries for computer support specialists are rather consistent from one industry to another. Colleges and universities can pay both the highest and lowest salaries, ranging between $26,000 and $69,000, according to Payscale surveys. IT services companies pay between $30,000 to $60,000. Public school systems pay between $31,000 and $43,000. Companies in manufacturing or distribution pay between $38,000 and $50,000. Computer companies, as well as the healthcare industry, pay between $32,000 and $65,000.
The majority of computer support specialists between the ages of 25 and 44 have more than a high school diploma. One-third have a bachelor's degree. Sixteen percent have an associate's degree. Seven percent have a master's degree. Twenty-nine percent have some college. Twelve percent have a high school diploma without any college. Only 1% do not have a high school diploma and less than 1% have doctoral or another professional degree.
According to PayScale surveys, a bachelor's degree pays about $3,000 more per year than an associate's degree with a typical salary range between $30,000 to $54,000.
Outlook to 2020
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 607,100 computer support positions in the United States in 2010. This number should increase by 18% by 2020 to approximately 717,100 positions. Employers should continue to favor candidates with a bachelor's degree and previous technical background.