IT Technician: Job Outlook & Career Info

Apr 07, 2019

Learn about the work responsibilities of an IT technician. Explore what education is required in addition to employment outlook and salary to decide if this is the right career choice.

Career Definition for an IT Technician

An IT technician is typically dispatched by his company's help desk to fix users' problems with computer hardware and software. They install, configure, maintain and troubleshoot workstations, printers, scanners, software and e-mail, as well as networking hardware and peripheral equipment. Additionally, IT technicians address issues with operating systems and upgrade and modify applications accordingly. They may also diagnose and resolve viruses, according to Tech Republic, www.techrepublic.com, a resource and blog for IT technicians.

Education Minimum requirement is an associate's degree in computer science or information technology, however, a bachelor's degree in computer science is preferred
Job Skills Diagnostic skills, patience, composure, empathy, communication skills
Median Salary (May 2018)* $50,980 and $62,770 (Computer user support specialists and computer network support specialists respectively)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 11% (Computer support specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

IT technician is a broad job description whose exact duties and job requirements depend upon the nature of each individual position. Employers seek those candidates with a demonstrated ability to learn new technologies, which is best evidenced by formal education. Most employers prefer at least an associate's degree in computer science or information technology, through 4-year college degree programs, not necessarily in computer science, provide the most solid career opportunities. Regardless, IT technicians should have a knowledge base in commonly used business applications such as the Microsoft Office Suite, MS Explorer and ORACLE. Many IT technicians find certificate programs offered by local colleges to be a good source for augmenting existing skills to meet the continually evolving needs of a business.

Required Skills

In addition to solid diagnostic skills, an IT technician must possess patience, composure and empathy. Some users always make the same mistakes and others require hours of individual tutoring to be able to perform the simplest computer tasks. This isn't a position for anti-social geeks who love technology but hate people; excellent people and communication skills are important.

Economic and Career Outlook

Demand for computer support specialists, among which are IT technicians, is expected to see the growth of 11% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment continues to increase because computer systems are continuously developed with improved technology and because the healthcare industry is increasingly utilizing information technology systems, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported median annual earnings of computer support specialists as $50,980 for user specialists and $62,770 for network specialists, as of May 2018. However, pay varies widely according to experience, industry and type of work.

Alternative Careers

Other careers related to the IT field include:

Network Administrator

Those who want a job installing and maintaining network equipment should consider a career in network administration. These administrators discuss computer needs with management, hook up new components or upgrade existing machines, observe systems operations, make necessary repairs, grant access to the network and teach users about software and hardware. A bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science or a related field is usually necessary to enter this profession, but workers with only a technical school certificate might find employment. The BLS expects 6% job growth for computer systems and network administrators between 2016 and 2026. In May of 2018, the BLS determined that network administrators received $82,050 in median annual pay.

Computer Systems Analyst

For those interested in evaluating the performance of computer technology at a company and recommending modifications, becoming a computer systems analyst may be a good career option. With an understanding of what an organization needs, computer systems analysts decide what current equipment is still effective, plan what costs will be, select new equipment, manage installation activities and create user documentation manuals. To work in the field, a bachelor's degree is required, and a wide variety of majors are acceptable to employers, including liberal arts, business and computer science. Analysts may also need to know about the industry in which they are employed. The BLS estimated the median yearly income of computer systems analysts to be $88,740 in 2018. These professionals should experience 9% growth in employment from 2016-2026, as stated by the BLS.

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