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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 Support Specialist
Top Careers After Computer Support Specialist
Hispanic or Latino11.1%
Black or African American0.7%
Computer Support Specialist
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University of Phoenix19.8%
University of Maryland - University College9.7%
Western Governors University6.0%
University of Central Florida5.5%
Florida International University5.1%
Community College of Philadelphia4.6%
South Dakota State University4.1%
Southern New Hampshire University3.7%
Brigham Young University3.2%
University of Kentucky3.2%
Southwestern Illinois College2.8%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale2.8%
Pennsylvania State University2.8%
Florida State University2.8%
Computer Support Specialist
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Navision Computer Support Specialist||Western Computer, Inc.||Oxnard, CA||Dec 04, 2015||$166,400|
|Senior Computer Support Specialist||Hewes Communications, Inc.||New York, NY||May 19, 2016||$120,000|
|Computer Support Specialist||Hewes Communications, Inc.||New York, NY||Sep 21, 2015||$120,000|
|Computer Support Testing Specialist||FEI.Com, Inc.||Columbia, MD||Aug 30, 2016||$100,000|
|Network and Computer Support Specialist||Discovery Education Services||Orlando, FL||Aug 31, 2015||$97,573|
|Computer Support Specialist||Encom J Inc.||Islandia, NY||Aug 26, 2016||$92,851|
|Computer Support Testing Specialist||FEI.Com, Inc.||Columbia, MD||Aug 23, 2016||$86,500|
|Computer Support Specialist||Quadrant 4 System Corporation||Cranbury, NJ||Jun 14, 2016||$83,741|
|Computer Support Specialist||Quadrant 4 System Corporation||Cranbury, NJ||May 08, 2016||$83,741|
|Computer Support Specialist||Quadrant 4 System Corporation||Cranbury, NJ||Mar 11, 2016||$83,741|
|Computer Support Specialist||Rivet Logic Corporation||Reston, VA||Mar 18, 2016||$80,000|
|Computer Support Specialist||Us Resources, Inc.||Vienna, VA||Jan 12, 2015||$75,670|
|Computer Support Specialist||CTD, Inc.||Fort Worth, TX||Jun 03, 2015||$74,776|
|Computer Support Specialist||Visual Graphic Systems Inc.||Carlstadt, NJ||Jul 07, 2016||$72,010|
|Computer Support Specialist||Imprinted Products, Inc.||Santa Ana, CA||Jan 10, 2016||$62,088 -
|Computer Support Specialist||Fortira Inc.||Princeton, NJ||Nov 15, 2016||$61,734|
|Computer Support Specialist||MKG Global Technology, Inc.||Park Ridge, NJ||Jan 11, 2015||$60,544|
|Computer Support Specialist||Quadrant 4 System Corporation||Cranbury, NJ||Sep 29, 2015||$60,500|
|Computer Support Specialist||Foundation Harmony||Secaucus, NJ||Jan 04, 2016||$60,341|
|Computer Support Specialist||P2Es Holdings, LLC||Houston, TX||Mar 23, 2015||$60,091 -
|Computer Support Specialist||Premier Consulting Group, Inc.||Hamilton, NJ||Sep 01, 2015||$60,000|
|Computer Support Specialist||CSCK Enterprise, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Mar 22, 2016||$59,842|
|Computer Support Specialist||Encom J, Inc.||New York, NY||Jan 11, 2016||$50,752|
|Computer Support Specialist||Education Management Solutions LLC||Exton, PA||Feb 12, 2015||$50,149|
|Computer Support Specialist||VST Consulting Inc.||Iselin, NJ||May 18, 2015||$50,000|
|Computer Support Specialist||Apogee Medical Group Inc.||Dallas, TX||Sep 03, 2016||$49,691|
|Computer Support Specialist||Member's Building Maintenance, LLC||Dallas, TX||Jun 06, 2016||$49,691|
|Computer Support Specialist||China Telecom (Americas) Corporation||Herndon, VA||Sep 01, 2015||$49,400|
|Computer Support Specialist-Bilingual||Edsol Communications, LLC||Germantown, MD||Jan 03, 2016||$48,731|
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