Your Guide to Computer Support Technician Careers

A computer support technician ensures that a company’s computer equipment is operating successfully and efficiently.

He or she is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of printers, modems, personal computers and data communication machines. From 2016 to 2026, the position is expected to see an average growth of 11 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment of computer support technicians is likely to continue to grow because of the rise in computer usage. This position is ideal for individuals who have education and experience with various technical devices and software. Learn more about the growing industry in the sections that follow.

Job Duties

A computer network support technician, or a technical support specialist, analyzes and evaluates computer networking problems. He or she is essential in routine and scheduled maintenance of a company’s networks. Network maintenance is crucial to a company’s disaster recovery efforts and occur daily, weekly or monthly. Along with this, the position involves solving information technology (IT) problems in a quick and efficient manner.

Since companies depend heavily on their network system, this task is a priority of computer network support technicians. They will complete their job duties by phone, email or in-person appointments and often work under network and computer system administrators who oversee their operations.

A computer user support technician, also known as a help desk technician, typically provides technical assistance to non-IT computer users. These individuals usually work for large software companies or a support service firm that provides information and instructions to customers and clients.

Other help desk technicians will work in call centers and answer simple technical questions from non-business customers. This can include basic walkthroughs for establishing internet connection or fixing household IT products like Wi-Fi routers or other connection problems. In most situations, technicians can fix the problem through phone or email. However, there are instances where he or she will have to make a site visit to solve the issue.

Qualifications for the Position

Typically, the position will require at least a high school diploma. However, some companies might require a college degree. Having a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a computer engineering associate degree will increase the applicant’s chances. Certification programs are also available from an array of different community colleges and online universities.

Individuals must possess extensive computer skills and be able to solve technical problems and troubleshoot to be an ideal fit for the position. Troubleshooting is the systematic approach to fixing situations that involve complex machines, electronic devices and software systems.

The position also includes necessary experience in entry-level hardware and software function and system networking. Along with these skills, a computer support technician must possess customer service skills. In many instances, the computer support technician will need to communicate with others, such as web designers, who may not be familiar with the technology.

Occasionally, employers will require new employees to take part in on-the-job training, which could last for three to six months. The employer might also include routine continuing-education courses to provide employees with new information in a field that is ever-changing.

In some careers, a computer support technician will also have to interact with customers by phone or through some other channel of communication. For those applying for a call center position, good customer service will translate well, as will the ability to efficiently and correctly input data into a spreadsheet or word processing system.

Effective written and oral communication skills are important for those applying to a call center, as are having keen organizational skills. Support technicians must be able to understand the problem that is being described and also explain the solution in a way that the customer can comprehend. Knowledge in both Macintosh and personal computers is a key requirement by many companies.

Employment Salary

As of 2016, there were 835,300 jobs for computer support technicians. Salaries can vary from $28,990 to $81,260 per year depending on the seniority and title of the position. The expected job growth is reflective of the increase in computer occupations.

The median wage for computer user support technicians was $50,210 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent of user support technicians earned less than $30,550, while the highest 10 percent made more than $82,900.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released figures that show computer network support technicians earned a median annual wage of $62,340 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent of network support technicians made less than $36,960 in 2017, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $105,230 the same year.

Working Environment

In most cases, computer support technicians work on-site. Typical working environments include IT organizations or departments for major businesses, government agencies and financial institutions. In other working environments, computer support technicians work in facilities completely dedicated to specialized computer support firms.

It is becoming simpler for computer support technicians to work from home with improvements in technology. The number of people working from home has increased tremendously over the last couple of years. Specialized help desk technicians may have to travel to a client’s location to complete the task.

Most customer support technicians will not work a typical full-time job, since computer support is such a critical position for numerous businesses. Typically, support services are available 24 hours a day and result in many customer support technicians having to work nights and weekends. More often than not, they will work a full-time schedule. As of 2016, approximately 198,800 computer network support specialists were employed, while 636,600 computer user support specialists held positions.

The largest employers of computer network support specialists were the following:

  1. Computer systems design and related services – 18 percent
  2. Telecommunications – 13 percent
  3. Finance and insurance – 8 percent
  4. Management of companies and enterprises – 6 percent
  5. Data processing, hosting, and related services – 4 percent

The largest employers of computer user support specialists were the following:

  1. Computer system design and related services – 21 percent
  2. Educational services – 12 percent
  3. Management of companies and enterprises – 5 percent
  4. Temporary help services – 4 percent
  5. Software publishers – 3 percent

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