A computer support specialist -- sometimes called an IT specialist or a technical support specialist -- is the person at an office who knows the ins and outs of a company’s software. They work for the company by helping out the employees with their specific technical needs. They can also work as part of a firm, doing work as contractors.
The day-to-day requirements of a computer support specialist include troubleshooting network issues, performing routine maintenance on existing systems, and occasionally updating systems. Their work is often interpersonal, interacting with employees of a given workplace to ensure their work goes smoothly from the technical side of things.
While many computer support specialists can work from home and respond to technical support issues via phone or email, many work at the office, doing their support work hands-on.
How Do I Become A Computer Support Specialist?
If you’re a computer whiz who loves the nitty-gritty details of what makes internet technology run, this might be an excellent job for you. A computer support specialist is one of a few jobs that can earn over 50K without a college degree.
However, in many situations, a college degree is also required to become a computer support specialist. When the work is highly technical, or when the hiring company is a large software business with many clients, computer support specialists will likely require a bachelor’s degree. To guarantee a high-paying job in the field, job seekers should have a 4-year degree, though this is not a requirement.
Being a computer support specialist is not a cookie-cutter job, and as that is the case, there are many different requirements for this job that will differ from position to position. Generally, you must prove that you have the technical capabilities to do the job well. How do you do that?
An associate degree, postsecondary classes, or a certification that speaks to your technical fluency will be vital in securing a computer support specialist role. The certificates are often directly related to the products or services the hiring company offers.
Beyond certifications, many employers offer internships. For many computer support specialists, these internships are a vital way to get one’s foot in the door in the progression of building a career.
How Much Do Computer Support Specialists Make?
As the workplace goes increasingly virtual and more employees perform their jobs from home, the computer support specialist becomes increasingly valuable in the US workforce. As a result, there are many well-paying jobs in this field, and there is no sign of the job rate slowing. According to the US Bureau of Labor, the outlook for computer support specialist jobs is 8%, a rate that is much faster than average.
In this same study, the US Bureau of Labor found that in 2020, the median pay for computer support specialists was a little over $55,000.
Beyond the median pay, however, the bell curve is broad in terms of the range of annual computer support specialist earnings. According to the Southern Careers Institute, the salary of computer support specialists can range from around $31,000 on the low end and over $80,000 on the high end.
Are Requirements Different From State to State?
There are no specific requirements that differ from state to state. Many companies hiring computer support specialists are national or international. However, requirements will vary from company to company in terms of who will be hired for a computer support specialist role. In some situations, a certificate and an internship are enough to secure employment. In other cases, an applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree.
Though the requirements for the role vary based on the company, pay is tied to the location. The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics provided by the US Bureau of Labor will give you an idea of the states and cities in which working as a computer support specialist is the most lucrative.
Centers of commerce have more jobs and higher-paying jobs for their computer support specialists. Therefore, large metropolitan areas, like Dallas-Fort Worth, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, will have higher-paid positions and more of them.
Skill Sets Required To Become a Computer Support Specialist
Becoming a computer support specialist demands more than just technical skills. Interpersonal skills are also a must.
- Technically proficient. A computer support specialist must understand their product or network backward and forward.
- Patience. Frequently, a computer support specialist must deal with employees who have no prowess in the technical realm. Dealing with the same issue many times or problems the computer support specialist might deem ‘simple’ is regular.
- Good listener. A computer support specialist doesn’t just need to hear what the technical problem is. In cases of customer support, they need to make the speaker feel heard.
- Problem-solving. Problems can come up on the job that the computer support specialist isn’t familiar with. The ability to keep a level head is a must.
Speaking skills. A successful computer support specialist can walk someone through a problem. This ability is especially important when the issue is somewhat complicated. Computer support specialists deal with many technical problems over the phone, and as such strong speaking skills are vital.
What Is the Career Progression For a Computer Support Specialist?
Many computer support specialists can progress within their IT department to become managers or seniority-level computer support specialists. The career progression outlooks extend further. In some cases, companies will have processes in which a computer support specialist can seek promotion with a department outside of computer support, like sales.
Computer support specialists can also seek more intricate and compelling work as they gain experience, becoming software developers or systems administrators.
Ready For That Dream Job?
A successful computer support specialist is someone who loves the details. They love keeping up to date on the latest internet technology and find the interplay of software, networks, and business innately interesting. They are also skilled "people people,” with the ability to listen with sympathy while problem-solving quickly.
With an average pay of over $50,000 and massive job expansion projected over the next ten years, now is an excellent time to become a computer support specialist.
Ready to apply? Check out our resume tips, get that certification, and good luck!