Computer Support Specialist - Job Description
A computer support specialist assists users who are having problems with software, computers, or peripherals such as printers or scanners. Some—called computer user support specialists—assist companies' customers, while others—known as computer network support specialists—provide in-house support to an organizations' information technology (IT) staff.
Same Job, Different Title
These are some of the job titles that computer support specialists may also go by, although their duties are identical.
When searching for job openings, also use these keywords:
Technical or Tech Support Specialist, Help Desk Technician, IT Specialist, Network Technician, Network Specialist, IT Consultant.
- Computer user support specialists earn a median annual salary of $50,210 and computer network support specialists earn $62,340 (2017).
- Of the 835,300 computer support professionals, 636,600 are computer user support specialists and 198,800 are computer network support specialists (2016).
- A variety of industries employ these technology workers. Some work for IT consulting firms that provide technical support to many different companies on a contractual basis.
- Technical support specialists sometimes work from home, but others travel to clients' offices.
- Most jobs in this field are full-time, but workers are not always scheduled during typical daytime hours. Computer users need support 24/7, and therefore support specialists must work during evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays.
- The job outlook for this occupation is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth that will be faster than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026. Job opportunities will be very favorable in the healthcare and computer systems design industry. There are also expected to be openings with IT consulting firms, as small companies turn to them for tech support.
A Day in a Computer Support Specialist's Life:
These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for computer support positions found on Indeed.com:
- "Support common business and productivity software"
- "Assist callers with requests for information technology services, repair or support requests, complaints, and inquiries and direct to appropriate IT personnel via computer tracking system"
- "Document user calls issue resolution, and related processes and procedures"
- "Answer questions or resolve computer problems for clients in person, via telephone, or from a remote location"
- "Recommend changes or updates in programming, documentation, and training to address system deficiencies and user needs"
- "Develop and assist in maintaining required technical documentation"
Educational Requirements, Soft Skills, and Advancement Opportunities
All employers require that those they hire have computer expertise but many are flexible regarding how they acquired that knowledge. While some will only hire computer support specialists who have a bachelor's degree, that is not usually the case. Some employers prefer job candidates who have an associate degree in computer science, but many others will hire workers who have just taken some computer classes.
In addition to their technical skills, a computer support specialist must have particular soft skills. These are personal qualities individuals were either born with or acquired through life experience. Excellent active listening skills are a must. Without them, he or she won't be able to understand peoples' needs. Verbal communication skills allow a computer support specialist to convey information to those he or she is trying to help. Also required are superior critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
After spending time helping customers or in-house users, some customer support specialists are promoted into positions where they help improve the design and efficiency of future products. Those who work for software and hardware companies often advance very quickly. Some people who begin in this position later become software developers and network and computer systems administrators.
What Will Employers Expect From You?
What will compel a prospective employer to hire you? Here are some requirements from actual job announcements on Indeed.com:
- "Ability to learn and articulate technical information and convey to non-technical people"
- "Excellent attention to detail and multi-tasking ability"
- "Be professional with clients and staff"
- "Passion for assisting others and problem-solving"
- "Able to translate technical concepts into layman’s terms"
- "Capable to work independently and multitasking"
Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?
It is imperative to consider your interests, personality type, and work-related values when choosing a career. A self-assessment will let you learn about your traits. Think about becoming a computer support specialist f you have the following ones:
- Interests (Holland Code): RCI (Realistic, Conventional, Investigative)
- Personality Type (MBTI Personality Types): ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP
- Work-Related Values: Relationships, Working Conditions, Achievement
Median Annual Wage (2017)
Minimum Required Education/Training
Identify problems with software
Manages an entities computer networks
Bachelor's degree in computer network and system administration or computer science
Bachelor's degree in a computer-related field (preferred) or certification and experience
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited December 22, 2018).