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Become An Office Support Specialist

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Working As An Office Support Specialist

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $60,836

    Average Salary

What Does An Office Support 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 An Office Support 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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Office Support Specialist Career Paths

Office Support Specialist
Clerk Office Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Accounts Payable Clerk Staff Accountant
Accounting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Assistant Director Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Accounts Payable Clerk Finance Analyst
Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Program Manager General Manager
Business Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Network Administrator Information Technology Director
Chief Information Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Specialist Account Manager
Client Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Operations Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Adjunct Professor Database Administrator
Information Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Clerk Technician Technical Support Specialist
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Support Clerk Administrative Support Systems Administrator
Information Technology Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Adjunct Instructor Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Support Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Support Clerk Office Manager General Manager
President/Chief Executive Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Accountant Account Manager
Relationship Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Manager Operations Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Manager Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Service Delivery Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Project Coordinator Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Office Support Specialist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Staff Specialist 3.7 years
Office Specialist 2.8 years
Support Specialist 2.3 years
Top Careers Before Office Support Specialist
Secretary 7.9%
Cashier 5.2%
Internship 4.2%
Teller 3.2%
Volunteer 2.3%
Clerk 1.7%
Top Careers After Office Support Specialist
Cashier 4.6%
Internship 3.5%
Manager 3.3%
Secretary 2.7%
Clerk 2.5%
Teller 2.5%
Specialist 2.2%

Do you work as an Office Support Specialist?

Office Support Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

81.6%

Male

16.5%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

64.5%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

5.3%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

54.3%

French

8.7%

Mandarin

6.5%

Chinese

4.3%

Japanese

4.3%

Italian

4.3%

Swahili

2.2%

Braille

2.2%

Romanian

2.2%

Amharic

2.2%

Bemba

2.2%

Tagalog

2.2%

Korean

2.2%

Lingala

2.2%
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Office Support Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.7%

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

7.3%

Strayer University

7.3%

Illinois State University

6.7%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

6.7%

Miami Dade College

6.0%

University of Illinois at Springfield

5.3%

George Mason University

4.7%

Anne Arundel Community College

4.7%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.7%

Kaplan University

4.7%

Eastern Illinois University

4.0%

J Sargeant Reynolds Community College

3.3%

Metropolitan State University

3.3%

Northern Illinois University

3.3%

Laramie County Community College

3.3%

Northern Virginia Community College

3.3%

Saint Cloud State University

3.3%

Catawba Valley Community College

2.7%

Ashford University

2.7%
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Majors

Business

30.4%

Health Care Administration

7.3%

Psychology

7.1%

Criminal Justice

6.3%

Human Resources Management

5.0%

Accounting

4.7%

General Studies

3.5%

Education

3.5%

Communication

3.5%

Legal Support Services

3.4%

English

3.2%

Information Technology

3.2%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

2.8%

Medical Assisting Services

2.8%

Management

2.4%

Political Science

2.2%

Computer Information Systems

2.2%

Human Services

2.2%

Social Work

2.1%

Liberal Arts

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.3%

Other

27.8%

Associate

15.8%

Masters

12.0%

Certificate

7.7%

Diploma

2.2%

License

0.1%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Office Support Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Automation Support Specialist, West Coast Office Sidel, Inc. Rancho Cucamonga, CA May 31, 2013 $85,194
Computer and Office Support Specialist Nissi International Group Corp Miami, FL Nov 30, 2011 $30,000
Computer and Office Support Specialist Nissi International Group Corp Miami, FL Dec 15, 2011 $30,000
Computer and Office Support Specialist Nissi International Group Corp Miami, FL Oct 01, 2012 $30,000

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Top Skills for An Office Support Specialist

  1. Customer Service
  2. Data Entry
  3. Office Supplies
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Generated new accounts and managed existing ones by providing outstanding customer service.
  • Provided secretarial duties as needed including data entry.
  • Delivered confidential information and ran errands to different campus locations; ordered office supplies as needed.
  • Assisted in design and development of database application to facilitate project management and implementation.
  • Performed multifaceted general office support, process payroll for over 400 Airline employees.

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Top Office Support Specialist Employers

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