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Become A Support Agent

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Working As A Support Agent

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $61,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Support Agent 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 Support Agent

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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Support Agent Career Paths

Support Agent
Systems Administrator Project Manager Program Manager
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Program Manager General Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Support Supervisor Service Manager Client Services Manager
Client Relationship Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Senior Technician Specialist Director Of Sales And Marketing
Director New Business Development
11 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Specialist Account Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Project Manager Program Manager
General Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Support Tier Network Technician Information Security Analyst
Information Assurance Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Support Tier Systems Administrator Information Technology Consultant
Information Technology Project Lead
7 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Technical Support Technician Information Technology Specialist
Information Technology Supervisor, Information Technology
6 Yearsyrs
Analyst Systems Analyst Network Engineer
Network Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Systems Analyst Business Analyst
Product Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Support Specialist Case Manager Account Manager
Relationship Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Business Analyst Product Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Technician Operations Manager Account Executive
Sales/Marketing
5 Yearsyrs
Service Agent Driver Operation Supervisor
Senior Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Service Agent Security Officer Technician
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Analyst Account Manager Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Technical Support Specialist
Supervisor, Technical Support
5 Yearsyrs
Support Specialist Systems Administrator Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Support Agent?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Agent 2.1 years
Customer Agent 2.0 years
Support Agent 2.0 years
Geek Squad Agent 2.0 years
Home Agent 1.7 years
Contact Agent 1.4 years
Phone Agent 1.2 years
Top Careers Before Support Agent
Cashier 8.7%
Internship 5.3%
Teller 4.5%
Manager 2.9%
Agent 2.8%
Server 2.8%
Supervisor 2.4%
Top Careers After Support Agent
Agent 5.9%
Supervisor 4.0%
Cashier 3.4%
Specialist 3.2%
Manager 2.8%
Technician 2.7%
Teller 2.7%

Do you work as a Support Agent?

Support Agent Demographics

Gender

Female

51.5%

Male

47.0%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

61.1%

Hispanic or Latino

16.9%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

6.6%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

54.8%

French

9.6%

Arabic

5.8%

Portuguese

4.8%

German

4.8%

Korean

2.9%

Mandarin

1.9%

Japanese

1.9%

Russian

1.9%

Italian

1.9%

Irish

1.0%

Hindi

1.0%

Akan

1.0%

Greek

1.0%

Bengali

1.0%

Tagalog

1.0%

Hmong

1.0%

Polish

1.0%

Chinese

1.0%

Thai

1.0%
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Support Agent Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

25.4%

Liberty University

7.0%

Utah Valley University

6.6%

Ashford University

5.6%

Kaplan University

5.6%

American InterContinental University

4.2%

Strayer University

4.2%

Colorado Technical University

4.2%

Boise State University

3.8%

University of Central Florida

3.3%

Salt Lake Community College

3.3%

College of the Canyons

3.3%

Capella University

3.3%

Grand Canyon University

3.3%

Brigham Young University

2.8%

East Carolina University

2.8%

University of Texas at Dallas

2.8%

University of Utah

2.8%

Walden University

2.8%

Georgia Perimeter College

2.8%
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Majors

Business

25.5%

Computer Science

7.8%

Information Technology

7.5%

Psychology

6.8%

Criminal Justice

5.6%

Accounting

5.5%

Computer Information Systems

4.4%

Communication

4.0%

Health Care Administration

3.8%

Computer Networking

3.5%

General Studies

3.0%

Political Science

2.9%

Nursing

2.8%

Electrical Engineering

2.7%

Management

2.7%

Sociology

2.6%

Medical Assisting Services

2.4%

English

2.2%

Marketing

2.2%

Liberal Arts

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.2%

Other

29.9%

Associate

15.9%

Masters

8.6%

Certificate

4.5%

Diploma

2.0%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Support Agent

  1. Customer Service
  2. Technical Support
  3. Phone Calls
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Manage and retain customer accounts by processing maintenance requests, suggesting current products or promotions and delivering superior customer service.
  • Provided second level technical support to first level technicians as well as escalation management.
  • Answered telephone calls and returned calls as professionally needed
  • Corrected account issues per conversations with developers by phone/email; accordingly escalated necessary issues to appropriate teams.
  • Manage all foster care referrals, provide information and updates to DSS concerning children in custody with child support cases.

How Would You Rate Working As a Support Agent?

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Top Support Agent Employers

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