Responsible for repairing and maintaining the personal computers (PCs) of individuals and small businesses, PC support technicians are employed in a variety of circumstances, such as family-owned repair shops or large customer service centers in department stores. Experience and demonstrated knowledge in computer repair are vital components for a career as a PC support technician; however, some individuals also possess specialty education and certification.
|Required Education||Varies; some postsecondary education is typically required or preferred|
|Other Requirements||Computer experience|
|Projected Job Growth*||17% between 2012 and 2022 (all computer support specialists)|
|Median Salary (2013)*||$46,620 (computer user support specialists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A PC support technician, also known as help-desk technician or technical support specialist, assists customers and clients with issues arising from everyday computer use. Tasks involving PC support technicians can be performed either remotely or on-site.
PC support technicians have a wide array of job responsibilities, such as upgrading components of aging systems and removing viruses. Employees of larger organizations may also be responsible for networking features, like servers and routers. While the tasks of PC support technicians are generally similar, some individuals work on specialty systems developed for specific purposes. A PC support technician working for software or hardware developers also assists customers with issues on specific products.
With additional experience and education, some PC support technicians may advance into executive or managerial roles. Individuals in upper level positions are responsible for managing PC support employees and administering company policy. Computer systems managers often create guidelines for repairing common customer complaints or handling technical issues within a specific company.
Experience and knowledge with personal computers are the most important elements for entering a career as a PC support technician. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that employers prefer candidates with some collegiate experience, though a degree is not a requirement (www.bls.gov). However, a number of positions for PC support technicians may call for a bachelor's degree in information systems or computer science. Master's degrees in business or information technology may be required for managerial or advanced leadership positions.
Some technology companies, such as CISCO and Microsoft, offer certification in server maintenance and office technology. To earn a technology-based certificate, students participate in classroom instruction focusing on solution development, infrastructure architecture and network administration.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Computer support specialists, including help desk technicians and technical support specialists, were expected to have faster-than-average growth of 17% over the 2012-2022 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The median annual pay for these specialists was $46,620 in May 2013. Most computer support specialists who focus on user support earned annual wages from $27,780 to $78,410 at that same time.