Becoming a Help Desk Analyst
|Degree Level||Varies; associate or bachelor's degree typically needed, but some employers may accept experienced high school grads|
|Degree Fields||Computer science, information technology, or a related field|
|Certification||Specialized certifications from organizations like CompTIA or product manufacturers like Cisco may be preferred/required|
|Experience||1-5 years' experience|
|Key Skills||Interpersonal and problem-solving skills; knowledge of Windows operating systems, word processing software, computer hardware, and networking helpful|
|Salary||$51,470 (2015 median salary for all computer support specialists)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monster.com job ads (August 2012)
Help desk analysts, also known as help desk technicians, act as the point of contact between computer users and the information technology (IT) department. They communicate with customers to diagnose computer issues and assist with the setup, installation, and use of new software or hardware. Analysts typically work at remote locations, but they may travel to help clients or customers onsite. Many are scheduled during weekends and nights in order to provide around-the-clock assistance.
Help desk analysts should have a few key skills. These include interpersonal and problem-solving skills and knowledge of Windows operating systems and word processing software, computer hardware, and networking. In 2015, computer support specialists in general made a median annual salary of $51,470 per year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Obtain a College Degree
Although formal education isn't required for all help desk analyst positions, many employers look for applicants with an associate's or bachelor's degree in computer science or information systems. These programs cover a wide range of subjects, such as computer hardware, software, networks, and operating systems. Some schools also offer computer support degree programs, which cover essential diagnostic skills.
Gain Work Experience
Many employers require help desk analysts to have one to five years of work experience. Individuals gain experience in an entry-level help desk position, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many companies provide on-the-job training for new employees.
Many computer software and hardware manufacturers offer certifications that are considered valuable by some employers. CompTIA offers Network+ and Security+ certifications, and Cisco offers the Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certifications, among others. It's important to conduct thorough research before obtaining a certification though, because not all employers require it. Individuals must take and pass an exam or series of exams to receive certification.
To recap, aspiring help desk analysts might find work with just a high school diploma and some experience, but many employers seek analysts who have some post-secondary education in a field such as computer science. Voluntary certification can lead to further job opportunities as well.