How to Become a Computer Support Specialist: Career Guide

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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  • 0:00 Becoming a Computer…
  • 1:03 Earn an Associate's Degree
  • 1:47 Obtain Certification
  • 2:08 Gain Work Experience

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Becoming a Computer Support Specialist

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.

The following 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
Salary $51,470 (2015 median for computer support specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings from August 2012

Earn an Associate's Degree

A certificate or associate's degree in a related area, such as information technology, computer science, or desktop support, may help individuals qualify for a computer support position. These programs teach students the skills that enable them to provide technical support to clients and customers. 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.

Obtain Certification

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.

Gain Work Experience

Although many support specialists receive on-the-job training from their employer, gaining hands-on experience in the computer support field can be beneficial. 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 a 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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