How to Become a Computer Applications Specialist

Find out how to become a computer applications specialist. Research the training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career as a computer applications specialist.

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Computer Applications Specialist

A computer applications specialist is a support position that focuses primarily on software systems for their clients. They may modify existing software, install new software, and troubleshoot any problems related to performance. Some computer application specialists also use their skills to consult with customers and supervise other personnel.

Computer applications specialists, like other types of computer support specialists, usually work at least 40 hours per week, but their schedules are often staggered 8-hour shifts that create 24-coverage for a system. Some nights or weekends may be required. Applications specialists work from an office setting and with technological advances, many are able to work from home. Some travel to clients' locations for meetings or to work with hardware related to the system.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies; certificate or associate's degree, though a high school diploma may be acceptable
Degree Level Computer science or related field
Experience At least two years of related experience
Key Skills Communication and customer service skills; critical-thinking, problem-solving and time-management skills, ability to navigate operating systems, desktop communications, configuration management and query software, familiarity with PC, application and printer troubleshooting and application installation, ability to use computer tool kits and hard disk arrays
Salary (2015)* $51,470 (median for all computer support specialists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Statistics, Job postings from employers (October 2012), O*Net Online

Steps for Getting Into This Career

Step 1: Earn a Computer Applications Specialist Certificate

After achieving a high school diploma, aspiring computer applications specialists may benefit from pursuing a certificate in the specialty from an accredited college or technical school. These programs typically take less than one year to complete, and they are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the occupation. Certificate programs in computer applications cover topics like database management, information technology, college math, and introduction to computers. Other certificate options focus on specific applications, such as Microsoft Office.

Success Tips:

You might also want to explore the certificate options. Pursuing the correct certificate for personal goals can help computer applications specialists target a specific area of expertise in their career. There are many applications to choose from, and several certificates can better chances for employment or advancing a career. General certificates like PC repair offer a broader spectrum, while specific application certificates can help tailor a career to a particular job market.

Additionally, consider developing related experience. Most employers prefer applicants with some experience in customer service or a related computer position. Coupling this experience with a certificate can help prospective specialists stand out among other applicants.

Step 2: Gain Employment

After earning training as a computer applications specialist, professionals are prepared to pursue an entry-level position in this field. In an entry-level position, common duties would include supporting an organizations information technology (IT) department with computer application troubleshooting and solutions. Other tasks include providing support to customers, either in-person or over telephone and email.

Success Tip:

To get the most out of your career, take advantage of any training available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that once hired, many companies train their employees extensively to support computer applications. More technical expertise acquired through an employer may also help chances for advancement.

Step 3: Consider Further Education

A college degree program may help in furthering a career as a computer application specialist. Those who join the workforce might return to school or attend college while working to earn an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field, which can lead to more job prospects and opportunities for career advancement.

Entrance into a computer applications career where you modify existing software and install new software typically requires an advanced education through a certificate, associate's, and/or bachelor's degree program in computer science as well as several years of related experience.

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