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Become A Help Desk Specialist

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Working As A Help Desk Specialist

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $69,264

    Average Salary

What Does A Help Desk Specialist Do

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:

  • Test and evaluate existing network systems
  • Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks operate correctly
  • Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Internet systems

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:

  • Pay attention to customers’ descriptions of their computer problems
  • Ask customers questions to properly diagnose the problem
  • Walk customers through the recommended problem-solving steps
  • Set up or repair computer equipment and related devices
  • Train users to work with new computer hardware or software, such as printers, word-processing software, and email
  • Provide other team members and managers in the organization with information about what gives customers the most trouble and about other concerns customers have

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.

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How To Become A Help Desk Specialist

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.

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Help Desk Specialist Jobs

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Help Desk Specialist Career Paths

Help Desk Specialist
Network Technician Systems Engineer Senior Software Engineer
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Technical Specialist Technical Support Specialist
Help Desk Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Network Engineer Network Administrator
Information Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Consultant Senior Systems Engineer Systems Administrator
Information Technology Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Network Engineer Network Administrator
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Network Technician Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Network Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Support Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Lead Technician Technical Support Specialist
Level Senior Technician
6 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Information Technology/Support Technician Help Desk Analyst Support Analyst
Senior Support Analyst
6 Yearsyrs
Desktop Support Specialist Network Technician Support Specialist
Senior Support Specialist
5 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Consultant Field Technician Technical Support Technician
Senior Support Technician
5 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Lead Technician Technical Support Specialist
Senior Technical Support Specialist
5 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Specialist Information Technology Consultant Information Technology Project Manager
Service Delivery Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Analyst Systems Analyst
Systems Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Support Specialist Human Resources Coordinator Technical Recruiter
Technical Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Specialist Systems Engineer Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Information Technology/Support Technician Network Administrator
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Information Technology Manager Information Technology Director
Vice President Of Information Technology
12 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Help Desk Specialist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Help Desk Analyst 2.1 years
Help Desk Engineer 1.9 years
Top Employers Before
Technician 2.7%
Internship 2.4%
Top Employers After
Consultant 2.6%

Do you work as a Help Desk Specialist?

Help Desk Specialist Demographics

Gender

Male

76.3%

Female

21.5%

Unknown

2.2%
Ethnicity

White

57.6%

Hispanic or Latino

16.2%

Black or African American

12.3%

Asian

9.2%

Unknown

4.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

53.7%

French

9.4%

Arabic

5.5%

Portuguese

3.5%

Russian

3.1%

Japanese

3.1%

German

2.7%

Hindi

2.4%

Korean

2.4%

Italian

2.0%

Chinese

2.0%

Vietnamese

1.6%

Carrier

1.6%

Mandarin

1.2%

Cantonese

1.2%

Urdu

1.2%

Cheyenne

1.2%

Turkish

0.8%

Tigrinya

0.8%

Bengali

0.8%
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Help Desk Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

22.5%

Strayer University

11.2%

University of Maryland - University College

7.7%

Western Governors University

5.9%

Northern Virginia Community College

5.9%

Kaplan University

5.3%

George Mason University

4.4%

The Academy

4.2%

Pennsylvania State University

3.4%

Colorado Technical University

3.2%

More Tech Institute

3.2%

Ashford University

3.0%

American InterContinental University

2.9%

Community College of the Air Force

2.8%

Southern New Hampshire University

2.8%

Wake Technical Community College

2.4%

Montgomery College

2.4%

Capella University

2.4%

New York University

2.3%

College of Southern Maryland

2.1%
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Majors

Computer Science

15.6%

Computer Information Systems

14.2%

Business

13.7%

Information Technology

13.5%

Computer Networking

9.2%

Electrical Engineering

4.5%

Information Systems

3.5%

Management Information Systems

3.0%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.6%

Computer Systems Security

2.6%

Computer Engineering

2.5%

Criminal Justice

2.4%

Computer Technical Support

2.3%

Communication

2.2%

General Studies

1.7%

Management

1.6%

Psychology

1.3%

Finance

1.3%

Accounting

1.2%

Education

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.2%

Other

23.7%

Associate

20.7%

Masters

9.1%

Certificate

5.6%

Diploma

2.2%

Doctorate

0.4%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Help Desk Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Desktop Support Engineer/JR. Systems Administrato Omidyar Network Services LLC San Francisco, CA Feb 03, 2014 $100,000
SR. Desktop Support Engineer (Computer Software EN Technicolor Inc. Burbank, CA May 21, 2010 $95,000
Computer and Network Technologist University of California at Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA Oct 19, 2016 $93,000
Computer and Network Technologist University of California at Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA Jan 09, 2016 $92,000
Video Production & Desktop Support Engineer Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP New York, NY Jan 10, 2016 $86,892
Video Production and Desktop Support Engineer Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP New York, NY Oct 01, 2013 $79,522
Desktop Support Engineer Unique Comp, Inc. Washington, DC Sep 30, 2013 $70,491
Desktop Support Engineer Junior Unique Comp, Inc. Washington, DC Sep 30, 2013 $70,491
Desktop Support Engineer Junior Unique Comp, Inc. Washington, DC Oct 03, 2012 $70,491
Desktop Support Engineer Senior Unique Comp, Inc. Uniondale, NY Oct 01, 2012 $70,000
Desktop Support Engineer Align Communications Inc. New York, NY Nov 08, 2015 $65,000
Senior Desktop Support Engineer Bill, Hilary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation New York, NY Oct 01, 2014 $62,050
Desktop Support Engineer I Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. Rockville, MD Nov 28, 2011 $56,680 -
$68,203
Senior Desktop Support Engineer William J. Clinton Foundation New York, NY Feb 10, 2012 $55,200
Desktop Support Engineer VR Networks Inc. New York, NY Aug 31, 2016 $51,000
Computer Network/Main. Tech Lutheran Homes, Inc. Fort Wayne, IN Oct 01, 2008 $50,171
JR. Help Desk Specialist Advanced Software Systems, Inc. Baltimore, MD Aug 17, 2012 $50,000
Computer and Network Technician JSN LLC VA Jul 25, 2011 $49,650
Help Desk Specialist Burson-Marsteller LLC Washington, DC Sep 30, 2012 $44,000

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Top Skills for A Help Desk Specialist

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  1. Computer
  2. Desk Support
  3. Remote Access
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Attained responsibility for on-site monitoring of computer network systems for various governmental facilities, businesses and residential clients.
  • Provide second level help desk support to the Joint IED Detection Agency (JIEDDO) directed by a four star general.
  • Provide telephone support and remote access diagnostics to assist end users and system administrators in resolving application functionality.
  • Train users, provide extensive break/fix support for laptops/desktops/servers/printers/scanners and related hardware.
  • Support Microsoft Office, Windows7, Windows XP and 2000, Site Standard Desktop, Remote Access,.

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