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Computer support specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. Some, called computer network support specialists, support information technology (IT) employees within their organization. Others, called computer user support specialists, assist non-IT users who are having computer problems.Duties
Computer network support specialists typically do the following:
Computer network support specialists, also called technical support specialists, usually work in their organization’s IT department. They help IT staff analyze, troubleshoot, and evaluate computer network problems. They play an important role in the routine maintenance of their organization’s networks such as performing file backups on the network. Maintenance can be performed daily, weekly, or monthly and is important to an organization’s disaster recovery efforts. Solving an IT problem promptly is important because organizations depend on their network systems. Network support specialists may assist the organization’s computer users through phone, email, or in-person visits. They often work under network and computer systems administrators, who handle more complex tasks.
Computer user support specialists typically do the following:
Computer user support specialists, also called help-desk technicians, usually provide technical help to non-IT computer users. They respond to phone and email requests for help. They can usually help users remotely, but they also may make site visits so that they can solve a problem in person.
Help-desk technicians may solve a range of problems that vary with the industry and the particular firm. Some technicians work for large software companies or for support service firms and must give instructions to business customers on how to use business-specific programs such as an electronic health records program used in hospitals or physicians’ offices. Sometimes they work with other technicians to resolve problems.
Other help-desk technicians work in call centers, answering simpler questions from non-business customers. They may walk customers through basic steps in re-establishing an Internet connection or troubleshooting household IT products such as a Wi-Fi router.
Because of the wide range of skills used in different computer support jobs, there are many paths into the occupation. A bachelor’s degree is required for some computer support specialist positions, but an associate’s degree or postsecondary classes may be enough for others.Education
Education requirements for computer support specialists vary. Computer user support specialist jobs require some computer knowledge, but not necessarily a postsecondary degree. Applicants who have taken some computer-related classes are often qualified. For computer network support specialists, many employers accept applicants with an associate’s degree, although some prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
Large software companies that provide support to business users who buy their products or services often require a bachelor’s degree. Positions that are more technical are likely to require a degree in a field such as computer science, engineering, or information science, but for others, the applicant’s field of study is less important.
To keep up with changes in technology, many computer support specialists continue their education throughout their careers.Certification
Certification programs are generally offered by vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge of and best practices required by computer support specialists. Companies may require their computer support specialists to hold certifications in the products the companies use.Advancement
Many computer support specialists advance to other information technology positions, such as network and computer systems administrators and software developers. Some become managers in the computer support services department. Some organizations provide paths for support specialists to move into other parts of the organization, such as sales. For more information, see the profiles on network and computer systems administrators and software developers.Important Qualities
Customer-service skills. Computer support specialists must be patient and sympathetic. They must often help people who are frustrated with the software or hardware they are trying to use.
Listening skills. Support workers must be able to understand the problems that their customers are describing and know when to ask questions to clarify the situation.
Problem-solving skills. Support workers must identify both simple and complex computer problems, analyze them, and solve them.
Speaking skills. Support workers must describe the solutions to computer problems in a way that a nontechnical person can understand.
Writing skills. Strong writing skills are useful for preparing instructions and email responses for employees and customers, as well as real-time web chat interactions.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Computer Specialist
Top Careers After Computer Specialist
Hispanic or Latino11.0%
Black or African American0.7%
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University of Phoenix17.2%
University of Illinois at Chicago11.3%
University of Maryland - University College9.3%
Northern Virginia Community College5.9%
George Mason University5.4%
University of Maryland - College Park4.1%
Western Governors University4.1%
Brigham Young University3.4%
Pennsylvania State University3.2%
George Washington University2.9%
Anne Arundel Community College2.9%
University of Maryland - Baltimore County2.9%
Colorado Technical University2.9%
Michigan State University2.5%
Community College of the Air Force2.5%
Prince George's Community College2.3%
Old Dominion University2.3%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||Las Vegas, NV||Jun 17, 2016||$125,000|
|Computer Specialist||Tech Mahindra (Americas), Inc.||New York, NY||Oct 20, 2015||$98,904|
|Computer Specialist||Tech Mahindra (Americas), Inc.||New York, NY||Nov 09, 2016||$98,904|
|Computer Specialist||Pegaframe Infotech Inc.||Bedminster, NJ||Jun 24, 2016||$95,000|
|Computer Specialist||Tech Mahindra (Americas), Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Nov 09, 2016||$93,579|
|Computer Specialist||Tech Mahindra (Americas), Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||Jun 19, 2016||$93,579|
|Lead Computer Modeling & Analytics Specialist||Xceedance, Inc.||Boston, MA||Oct 09, 2016||$92,810 -
|Computer Specialist Analyst||Global Bridge Infotech Inc., .||Millington, MD||Sep 30, 2015||$92,300|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||San Jose, CA||Dec 14, 2015||$92,290|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||Sep 07, 2015||$92,290|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||Richfield, OH||Sep 22, 2015||$67,350|
|Computer Specialist||Tech Mahindra (Americas) Inc.||Franklin, TN||Sep 14, 2016||$67,210|
|Scientific Computing Professional Specialist||The University of Georgia||Athens, GA||Mar 29, 2016||$67,098|
|Computer Specialist||Tringapps Inc.||Bohemia, NY||Oct 26, 2015||$67,000|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||Scottsdale, AZ||Dec 14, 2015||$66,997|
|Computer Specialist||Jinigram LLC||Palo Alto, CA||Sep 27, 2016||$66,830|
|Computer Specialist||Jinigram LLC||Palo Alto, CA||Sep 29, 2016||$66,830|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||Princeton, NJ||Nov 20, 2015||$64,189|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||Warren, NJ||Mar 11, 2015||$64,189|
|Computer Specialist||Jean Martin Inc.||Carmel, IN||Jan 20, 2015||$64,189|
|Computer Specialist||Tringapps Inc.||Monmouth Junction, NJ||Jan 20, 2015||$64,189|
|Computer Specialist||Tringapps Inc.||Bedminster, NJ||Jan 20, 2015||$64,189|
|Computer Specialist||Tringapps Inc.||Warren, NJ||Jan 09, 2016||$64,189|
|Computer Specialist-Content Management System||Tekivy Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Sep 15, 2016||$64,000|
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