Are you interested in computers? Do you enjoy figuring out how computer networks operate, or how to de-bug programs? Are you a problem solver? Are you patient with your grandma when she calls you asking how to work her email, or happy to be the one person to whom your friend goes when he can't figure out his new app?
If you enjoy making people happy by fixing their tech problems, then learning what computer support specialists do may interest you.
The computer support specialist's job description is fairly simple: the computer support specialist is the go-to person when there are problems with an organization's or person's computers, programs, software, and/or information technology (IT) equipment.
Computer support specialists work patiently with employees, customers, or callers. They walk users through the steps to resolve their computer-related issues. They may also set up or repair computer equipment and train users on how to operate computer hardware or software.1
Computer support specialists work for a variety of businesses or institutions. For example, some work in offices, others in call centers, and some may even work from home.1
If you're a computer support specialist, your typical day might involve working with other IT specialists to analyze and troubleshoot network problems. You might spend part of your morning helping people who don't understand their computers. You might be on the phone with someone who just erased an important document or is having trouble with his web site's server. Some of these people might be really anxious about their issue. Your job is to be patient and helpful, and you get the satisfaction of fixing what's broken.
Training requirements can vary from employer to employer, but most require an associate's degree or a certificate from a technical school. Some computer support specialists have a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering, information science, or network engineering.1 Certification in specific operating systems and software (such as Microsoft) may be helpful, especially when applying for a job with a company that uses these products.
Aside from having the kinds of training listed above, a computer support specialist must have very good customer service skills.1 This means they must be able to listen and must want to understand the problems being communicated to them - often from people with limited knowledge of computer systems.
Think of a computer support specialist as a translator for people who are not as tech-savvy as you are.
Computer support specialists also must be able to effectively communicate solutions. That means having the patience, in some cases, to go baby-step-by-baby-step with certain customers. When training people on how to operate new hardware or software, they need to both know the product well enough to answer questions, as well as be clear, effective communicators.1
According to US government statistics, computer support specialists may earn around $47,610 per year. Businesses hiring in this field include computer systems design companies, telecommunication companies, financial and insurance firms, and educational service organizations.1
The Bureau of Labor Statistics deems that computer support specialists have a bright employment outlook: Employment in this field is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2014 and 2024.1
Many businesses and organizations rely on computer support specialists to help with the daily challenges associated with computer and network technology. This is a growing field, offering increased opportunity for employment in the coming years. If you think you may enjoy this type of work, now is the time to begin training by taking some computer or engineering courses. You may be embarking on a new and rewarding future.
Please keep in mind employment and income cannot be guaranteed by any educational institution for students or graduates. Additionally, salary data cited in this article is based on median data provided by the United States Department of Labor, does not reflect starting or entry level salaries, and can vary widely based on geographic location.