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Computer Support Specialist: Salary, Education Requirements & Training

Mar 31, 2021

Research the requirements to become a computer support specialist. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in computer support.

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Computer Support Specialist Job Description

Before learning how to become a computer support specialist, you need to understand what one does. Computer support specialists troubleshoot and resolve various computer and software issues. They may work in a help-desk environment or provide technical support in an organization's IT department. Professionals might work in a variety of fields, including computer systems, telecommunications, finance, and educational services. Some professionals may be able to work from home, while others must travel to clients' homes to provide computer support. These computer professionals often must work irregular hours to meet consumer needs.

Computer Network Support Specialists

Computer network support specialists troubleshoot existing network systems, including local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). They perform testing and evaluation on the network systems, as well as making sure the system is working properly by completing routine maintenance.

Computer User Support Specialists

A computer user support specialist provides technical assistance to computer users. The technical assistance may be performed in person, on the phone or online. Computer user support specialists may work with business customers or with the general public, depending on the company they are working for.

A computer user support specialist provides technical support to personal and business computer users.
Computer user support specialist

Wondering how to be a computer support specialist? The following table lists the main requirements for a computer support position:

Degree Level None; certificate or associate degree preferred
Degree Fields Information technology, computer science, or desktop support
Key Skills Interpersonal and problem-solving skills; familiarity with Windows and Mac operating systems and servers and Cisco and Microsoft products
Median Salary - Computer Support Specialists $54,760
Median Salary - Computer User Support Specialists $52,270
Median Salary - Computer Network Support Specialists $63,460

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

Computer Support Specialist Education Requirements

Is a computer support specialist education needed to become one? Obtaining a computer support specialist degree is recommended if you want to work in the field. Computer support specialist schools offer certificate and associate degree programs in areas such as information technology, computer science, or desktop support. Google offers an IT Support Professional Certificate program online. A certificate or degree may help individuals qualify for a computer support position. If you are interested in working as a network support specialist, you may choose to attend a computer network support specialists school. These programs teach students the skills that enable them to provide technical support to clients and customers. Computer support courses include computer hardware, software, operating systems, networks, and diagnostics. The area of specialization may not matter to employers, since they typically provide on-the-job training for entry-level workers.

Some schools provide students with the chance to work in the computer support field as part of their program requirements. Internships provide students with on-the-job experience that may help fulfill work experience requirements.

Computer Support Specialist Certification Options

Certification as a computer support specialist is recommended, as many employers value it highly. In order to prepare to take the certification exam, you may take computer technical support courses. For instance, you can complete an online certificate program that will prepare you to sit for the certification exam.

Because certification demonstrates competence in the field, passing a certification test may improve a specialist's chances of finding employment. Many computer companies and associations offer certification, including Microsoft and CompTIA.

Individuals must take and pass an exam or series of exams in order to receive certification. You can test for your computer support specialist certification online in many cases.

Skills for Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists should possess or develop specific skills that will enable them to further their careers. These skills include:

  • Customer service - A computer support specialist should possess patience and empathy. Having patience and empathy and the ability to relate to your customers and their situations is very important for excellent customer service.
  • Listening - Listening to your customers when they describe their problem or concern enables you to better understand the situation or problem they are dealing with.
  • Problem solving - During the course of their work, computer support specialists must be able to identify and analyze problems and provide solutions to their customers.
  • Communication - The ability to effectively communicate by speaking and writing are necessary to provide the best service to your clients and customers. You may need to explain complex technical issues or problems to the customer in layperson's terms in order to improve understanding.

Job Duties and Education Requirements for Computer Support Specialists

What are some common job duties, and what are the educational requirements for computer support specialists? The table outlines some common job duties and educational requirements for Computer User Support Specialists and Computer Network Support Specialists.

Job Duties Education Requirements
Computer User Support Specialist Provide technical support
Listen to and answer customer questions
Resolve customer's issues and concerns
On-the-job training
Vocational courses
Associates degree
Computer Network Support Specialist Troubleshoot network systems
Analyze and perform tests on network systems
Backup network data
Perform routine network maintenance
Associate Degree
Bachelor's Degree

Source: *O NET OnLine

Developing Skills and Experience as a Computer Support Specialist

Although many support specialists receive on-the-job training from their employers, gaining hands-on experience in the computer support field can be beneficial. You may also want to complete technical support specialist training. Finding experience without completing an internship may be difficult, but lower-level positions, such as help-desk or call-center support, may be available for inexperienced workers. Work experience combined with an IT support degree and certification may open up more advanced positions that provide a higher salary and more responsibility. Some associate's degree or certificate programs transfer to a bachelor's degree program, which may make it easier to obtain a more skilled computer support position.

To sum up, aspiring computer support specialists might find it beneficial to earn a certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in computer science or a related area before seeking a job in the field.

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