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Become A Program Support Specialist

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Working As A Program Support Specialist

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $69,569

    Average Salary

What Does A Program 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 A Program 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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Program Support Specialist Career Paths

Program Support Specialist
Counselor Assistant Director Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Specialist Operations Manager Branch Manager
Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Program Manager General Manager
Business Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Executive Assistant Recruiter Career Counselor
Career Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Assistant Specialist Account Manager
Client Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Program Analyst Program Manager Program Director
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Administrative Specialist Human Resources Coordinator Data Analyst
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Assistant Human Resources Coordinator Human Resources Manager
Director Of Human Resources
10 Yearsyrs
Program Analyst Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Data Analyst Senior Consultant Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Administrative Coordinator Operations Manager Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Support Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Specialist Account Manager Account Executive
Relationship Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Program Manager General Manager Account Manager
Senior Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Data Analyst Business Analyst Information Technology Project Manager
Senior Information Technology Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Product Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Counselor Specialist Operations Manager
Supply Chain Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Administrative Specialist Human Resource Specialist Technical Recruiter
Technical Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Administrative Coordinator Project Coordinator Project Leader
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Staff Specialist 3.7 years
Specialist 2.5 years
Support Specialist 2.3 years
Support Associate 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Program Support Specialist
Internship 9.3%
Secretary 5.6%
Cashier 3.5%
Manager 2.9%
Teller 2.5%
Assistant 2.5%
Top Careers After Program Support Specialist
Internship 4.0%
Counselor 3.6%
Teacher 3.3%
Specialist 3.0%
Volunteer 3.0%
Consultant 3.0%

Do you work as a Program Support Specialist?

Program Support Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

74.8%

Male

23.4%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

60.6%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Black or African American

14.2%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.4%

German

13.5%

Japanese

5.8%

French

5.8%

Chinese

3.8%

Vietnamese

3.8%

Amharic

3.8%

Mandarin

3.8%

Turkish

1.9%

Swedish

1.9%

Khmer

1.9%

Tigrinya

1.9%

Yoruba

1.9%

Cantonese

1.9%

Greek

1.9%

Hindi

1.9%

Tagalog

1.9%

Urdu

1.9%
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Program Support Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

17.2%

Strayer University

12.3%

University of Maryland - University College

8.6%

George Mason University

6.1%

Howard University

6.1%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.9%

Ashford University

4.3%

Liberty University

4.3%

Prince George's Community College

3.7%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.7%

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

3.7%

Capella University

3.7%

San Francisco State University

3.1%

James Madison University

3.1%

University of Utah

3.1%

Trinity Washington University

2.5%

California University of Pennsylvania

2.5%

Illinois State University

2.5%

Virginia Commonwealth University

2.5%

Temple University

2.5%
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Majors

Business

30.1%

Psychology

8.5%

Criminal Justice

7.0%

Communication

4.9%

Social Work

4.5%

Human Resources Management

4.5%

Health Care Administration

4.4%

Accounting

4.2%

Management

4.0%

Sociology

3.2%

Human Services

3.2%

Public Administration

3.0%

Computer Information Systems

2.8%

Political Science

2.5%

Public Relations

2.5%

Education

2.3%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

General Studies

2.1%

Counseling Psychology

2.1%

Nursing

1.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.5%

Masters

24.1%

Other

19.8%

Associate

8.5%

Certificate

4.8%

Diploma

2.1%

Doctorate

1.1%

License

0.1%
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Program Support Specialist Videos

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Real Program Support Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Program Support and Training Specialist Annrell Incorporated San Antonio, TX Jun 22, 2015 $108,000
Program Support Specialist University of Maryland University College College Park, MD Jul 01, 2010 $56,680 -
$61,000
Program Support Specialist University of Maryland University College Largo, MD Jul 01, 2010 $56,680 -
$61,000
Program Support Specialist Sensitech Inc. Beverly, MA Apr 19, 2013 $48,000
Computer Program/Support Specialist Rehabtek LLC Wilmette, IL Nov 10, 2011 $46,000
Computer Program/Support Specilist Rehabtek LLC. Wilmette, IL Apr 01, 2011 $35,000
Computer Program/Support Specilist Rehabtek LLC. Wilmette, IL Nov 01, 2010 $35,000

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Top Skills for A Program Support Specialist

  1. Procedures
  2. Technical Support
  3. Program Support
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Develop policies and procedures for invitational travelers Refine cost-effective resolutions to complicated travel challenges within the guidelines of the FTR.
  • Supported the Manager of Mail Operations, managed all logistical, administrative and technical support for the postal inspection office.
  • Captured data and statistically reported individual progress and productivity of program support staff.
  • Facilitated customized training curriculum for personnel at all levels and provided oversight for the Employee Recognition Program.
  • Complete data entry on inbound electronic program documentation.

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Program Support Specialist Videos

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