To be successful as a help desk technician, you must be knowledgeable about computer systems, and have excellent customer service skills. This knowledge, particularly the technological aspects, can be gained through a diploma, certificate or degree program at a technical school or university. Job growth should be faster than average over the next decade, and earning a higher degree in computer science may enhance career prospects.
Help desk technicians are trained to address computer problems through e-mail and telephone instruction to customers. They may possess education from a technical school or hold an associate or bachelor's degree in a major related to computer science. In addition to a deep understanding of computer systems, help desk technicians should possess satisfactory customer service skills.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or technical diploma suggested for all but the lowest-level positions|
|Other Requirements||CompTIA A+ Computer Troubleshooting Certification recommended|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||12% (for computer user support specialists)*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$52,430 (for computer user support specialists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Help Desk Technician Career Options
Help desk technicians provide help with technical problems experienced by computer users. Technicians are versed in customer service techniques as well as technical experience and must be prepared to handle a variety of technical issues and customer complaints. Generally, help desk technicians work on the telephone or via e-mail to resolve hardware and software problems for customers. They are trained to diagnose technical issues and instruct customers on how to fix the problem. This process requires technical knowledge, the ability to troubleshoot and the patience to work with potentially upset or angry customers. Trained help desk technicians may find work as:
- Call center representatives
- End user support personnel
- Hardware or software support technicians
- Application specialists
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Help Desk Technician Education Requirements
Help desk technician training is offered though programs at technical schools, community colleges and universities. A program may be a 1-year technical diploma, a certificate or a continuing education credit that can be earned in six weeks or two semesters. Many educational programs feature help desk internships which allow students to practice their new skills in a work environment. Courses that prepare students to handle the variety of problems encountered at a help desk may include:
- Configuring software and hardware
- Information systems
- Installing upgrades
- Network fundamentals
- Troubleshooting and repair
- Customer service
Some technical schools and colleges design their curricula to prepare students to take the CompTIA A+ Computer Troubleshooting Certification. The CompTIA credential meets industry standards and is a compulsory requirement in many corporations, including Microsoft, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. Certification is earned after technicians pass two exams and complete 500 hours of technical field experience.
Help desk support professionals may expand their career options by acquiring an associate or bachelor's degree in computer science, systems or network administration or other computer-related majors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for computer user support specialists, including help desk technicians, is expected to increase 12% between 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS warns that the corporate practice of outsourcing jobs might diminish job growth in this area. However, this trend may soon be reversed as many companies in recent years have begun establishing call centers in lower-income areas in the United States. Employees who possess college degrees in a computer science or related major may have the best chance to secure jobs and advancement in the field.
To recap, help desk technicians have extensive knowledge of computer systems, often learning the specifics and becoming certified to work with one company's system. A certificate or diploma from a technical college is a typical minimum requirement, but associate's and bachelor's degrees both exist in computer-related majors as well. Good communication skills are essential for help desk technicians, who interact directly with customers to resolve issues.