3 minute read

Technical Support

Education and Training : Associate’s degree or training program
Average Salary : $43,450
Job Outlook : Good

Technical support workers provide troubleshooting and other assistance to companies, organizations, and people who use information technology products. Their advice can include how to install or troubleshoot hardware and software or other support help. There are generally two types of technical support workers – technical support specialists and help-desk technicians.

Tech support specialists typically handle requests from folks in their companies who use computers as part of their work, but who are not qualified to fix problems that may arise from their use. For example, an accountant in the finance section of a business may call upon a technical support specialist to help them with problems that may arise with their work computer. Technical support specialists may also train employees on how to properly use a company’s computer assets, teaching them basic maintenance and care.

Help desk technicians typically handle phone calls and e-mail requests from computer users seeking help and advice with computer problems. These are typically employees of a computer or software manufacturer. These employees ask callers questions to figure out what’s wrong and guide the user through a variety of steps to isolate and resolve the problem. They may also have remote access to the computer, and be able to install or modify programs, or take other steps to fix problems.

Education and Training Requirements

Technical support workers typically need at least an associate’s degree in a computer-related field to gain employment. Many employers prefer their technical support staff to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer programming, etc. Some employers will hire workers with a bachelor’s degree in any subject, so long as they are versed in computer skills.

Once tech support workers are hired, they typically undergo a training period, usually about three months of on-the-job training. Continuing education is important for technical support employees, as keeping current with the latest hardware and software is key for them to be able to do an effective job.

Getting the Job

Technical support employees should be able to show employers that they are conversant with the latest hardware and software. An analytical mind capable of identifying problems and solving them is key to this line of work. Good communication skills are also key, as many technical support workers will have to talk to clients with only basic computer knowledge to guide them through the process of diagnosing and fixing problems.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for tech support employees is excellent. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of jobs for technical support workers is expected to grow by 14 percent. Competitive pressure from outsourced technical support centers, which pay employees less, may exert downward pressure on job growth, however.

Industries most in need of technical support workers will be data processing, software publishing, management and scientific pursuits, and technical consulting.

Working Conditions and Environment

Technical support employees typically work in an office setting, although some may work from home. Work usually consists of the typical 40-hour, 5-day work week, although the work may be in shifts, and some technical support employees may work nights and weekends.

Technical support employees typically spend a lot of time on the phone, listening to computer users describe problems with their machines and suggesting solutions for their problems. Technical support employees may also have computers capable of remotely accessing clients’ computers. Having an ergodynamically designed workplace is important to helping these employees avoid work-related ailments associated with this line of work, such as eye strain from looking at computer screens all day and neck pain from cradling a phone.

Salary and Benefits

Salaries for technical support employees typically range from $26,580 to $55,990. Benefits vary from company to company, but many offer their employees some form of health insurance and retirement plan.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Computing Machinery
2 Penn Plaza, Ste. 701
New York, NY 10121

Association of Support Professionals
122 Barnard Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472

National Center for Women and Information Technology
University of Colorado
Campus Box 322 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesComputers, IT & Telecommunications