Help Desk Support Professionals
|Degree Level||Associate or bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field(s)||Computer science or computer engineering|
|Licensure/Certification||Voluntary certifications available|
|Experience||On-the-job training usually required|
|Key Skills||Sbility to read and understand complex manuals and terminology; understanding of hardware ad software; customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||12% growth|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$51,470 (for computer support specialists)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Help desk support professionals, or computer support specialists, provide technical support to individuals or corporations. In order to assist customers, help desk professionals must possess both the technical knowledge required for troubleshooting and the customer service skills necessary to interact with individuals who are experiencing technical problems. An associate's or a bachelor's degree in a computer-related area is typically necessary to work in this field, although individuals with noteworthy technical knowledge or experience may also find employment.
Help desk support professionals typically can work for computer manufacturers, IT firms, telecommunications companies or outside support services. They may also work for financial, healthcare and public or private educational services.
Help desk support professional answer phone calls or respond to e-mails sent by customers who are experiencing technical difficulties with computers or related devices such as printers or routers. When helping a customer, the first step is to determine a person's computer problem. As part of the troubleshooting process, help desk support professionals often guide technologically challenged customers through multiple steps to diagnose any computer-related issues. This usually requires the ability to read and understand complex manuals and terminology and then communicate information to customers using basic terminology.
Help desk support professionals usually document each customer interaction so other professionals will be up to speed if they have to take over the case. Help desk professionals usually work on a staggered system where first-level support manages some cases but may pass advanced issues along to higher-level support or even supervisors. This may include managing and securely storing passwords as well as login information. They must also provide feedback to employers about ongoing customer difficulties and product-related issues.
Help desk support professionals may also perform on-site diagnostics, install new software and repair computer hardware. They may also need to determine and order the correct pieces of hardware or software to meet a client's needs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment of computer support specialists to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024, which is a faster than average rate of growth. Technological advancements, which create a need for individuals and organizations to adopt and understand new technology, will contribute to the demand for support specialists. In May 2015, the median annual salary for computer support specialists was $51,470, according to data from the BLS.
According to the BLS, many employers prefer to hire college-educated help desk support professionals, and some employers only hire support professionals who have completed bachelor's degrees in a computer-related area, such as computer science or computer systems engineering. In other instances, employers may hire individuals without formal education who demonstrate the necessary technical skills or experience required to troubleshoot computers. Most companies require all new hires to complete one month to one year of formal on-the-job training, regardless of their training or education.
Just to recap, if you have the education or experience, you may qualify for a job as a computer or help desk support professional, where you'll earn a median annual salary of $51,470. Through 2024, job opportunities for support professionals are expected to increase by a faster-than-average rate of 12%.