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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
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.
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 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.