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Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Specialist (MCDST) Career Info

Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Specialists (MCDST) provide technical assistance for users of Microsoft computer software products and operating systems. For more details about job duties, degree requirements, employment outlook and salaries for Microsoft desktop support specialists, read on!

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Career Definition for a Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Specialist

Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Specialists may work as part of a company's information technology (IT) team, on the help desk of a computer support company or as independent contractors. Their responsibilities include troubleshooting hardware and software issues by email, telephone or in person. In addition, MCDST professionals diagnose and resolve network and workstation connectivity problems, help with product upgrades and offer product training. They may also become instructors, training candidates who are also seeking certification.

Education Associate's degree or bachelor's degree
Job Skills Communication, customer service, problem solving, technical skills
Median Salary (2015) $51,470 (all computer support specialists)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 12% (all computer support specialists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Many employers require Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Specialists to have an associate or bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. MCDST certification generally requires at least six months of desktop operating system support experience, with an emphasis on Microsoft Windows XP, as well as a passing score on two exams. Training is provided through community colleges, certification training organizations and Microsoft. Some employers may also require CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ certification, offered through the Computing Technology Industry Association.

Skills Needed

Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Specialists must have expert knowledge of Microsoft operating systems, particularly Windows XP, and related hardware and software. MCDST professionals must also be detail-oriented and able to identify, troubleshoot and resolve problems quickly. Customer service and communication skills are key, as well as the ability to work independently or as part of a team. Hand dexterity, good vision and the ability to lift computer equipment may also be required.

Employment and Salary Outlook

As computer technology becomes increasingly complex, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for computer support specialists in general are expected to increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024. Candidates with a bachelor's degree, professional certification and multiple skills may have the strongest job prospects. In May 2015, the median yearly salary of all computer support specialists was $51,470.

Alternate Career Options

If you are seeking to become a computer support specialist check out professions with similar duties, including job titles computer network architect and computer programmer.

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects develop communication networks, such as intranets, local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs). Professional qualifications include a 4-year degree in computer science or another relevant field of study and experience in a related area. According to the BLS, employment prospects for computer network architects are expected to increase by 9% nationwide, or faster than average, from 2014-2024. Computer network architects who were employed in May 2015 earned median annual wages of $100,240.

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write codes or instructions for software programs and are often experts in one or more programming languages. Educational requirements include an associate, or preferably, a bachelor's degree in a computer-related area. Between 2014 and 2024, jobs for computer programmers are projected to decrease by a rate of 8% nationwide, as reported by the BLS. In May 2015, computer programmers were paid median annual wages of $79,530.

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