What Does an IT Support Specialist Do?
If you get a kick out of solving technical problems and helping people, this career could be the one for you.
An information technology (IT) support specialist — also called a computer support specialist, computer user support specialist or technical support specialist — uses their knowledge of computer science to keep systems running efficiently. They troubleshoot problems, provide routine maintenance and help employees resolve technical roadblocks.
A support specialist works directly with people, or focuses on maintaining the network.
Tech support services are crucial to any size business, which is why there are plenty of job opportunities. Interested? Read on to learn more about this in-demand career.
- Set up equipment for employee use, including operating systems and software
- Conduct computer diagnostics and work with computer users to resolve problems
- Perform regular maintenance on systems
- Repair computer equipment and related devices or replace them
- Learn about new hardware and software and train people to use them
- Ensure system security and network support
How To Become an IT Support Specialist: FAQs
What education and training do I need to be an IT support specialist?
The requirements vary by role. Most employers look for candidates with an associate or bachelor’s degree. Other businesses that require specific computer skills may consider experience over formal education. Some offer entry-level positions and plenty of on-the-job training.
An associate degree from a community college is the most common path, followed by a certificate. Look for certificate and degree programs in computer science, information technology, management information systems or computer engineering.
It’s critical for IT support specialists to stay up-to-date on current technology and best practices. Many technical schools, vendors and large software companies offer certifications on new programs.
Many specialists positions are a good jumping-off point. Desk technicians can advance to other roles in information technology, such as software developer, network and computer systems administrator or a management role.
Are there any other qualifications to consider?
Certification and credentials, such as ones offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), are a smart move in IT, especially in a support specialist job.
How long does it take to become an IT support specialist?
It depends on the educational path you choose. Certificate programs can last from six months to a year. An associate degree takes two years, while a bachelor’s degree takes four.
What kind of hours do support specialists work?
It depends on the size of the business, but the job is typically full-time. It may involve some night and weekend work when the technology isn’t working properly.
What’s the job outlook?
It looks good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts steady growth of about 9% from 2020 to 2030.
What skills and personal qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
- Good customer service skills
- Excellent communication skills, especially on the phone, web chat or email
- Good problem-solving skills
- Able to describe computer problems and solutions in a way that a nontechnical person can understand
The bottom line on becoming an IT support specialist: This career offers a good salary and potential for advancement. People who are good at trouble-shooting computer issues tend to realize this quality early on but they may not realize it can translate to a meaningful career. If that’s you, you're already one step ahead!