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Become A Support Specialist

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Working As A Support Specialist

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $79,655

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Do you work as a Support Specialist?

Support Specialist Jobs

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Support Specialist Career Paths

Support Specialist
Program Coordinator Assistant Director Office Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Senior Manager
Director Of Human Resources
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Director Of Information
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Information Technology Consultant Director Of Information
Director Of Information Technology Services
12 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Specialist Systems Administrator Operations Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Program Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Direct Support Professional Program Coordinator Program Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Senior Network Engineer Network Administrator
Information Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Network Engineer Network Administrator
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Analyst Project Manager Program Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Information Technology Specialist Systems Engineer Project Engineer
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Analyst Business Analyst
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Consultant Senior Consultant
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Senior Finance Analyst Finance Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Manager General Manager Account Manager
Senior Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Direct Support Professional Case Manager Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Product Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Vice President Of Information Technology
12 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Support Specialist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Specialist 2.5 years
Support Associate 2.0 years
Support Specialist 2.0 years
Support 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 7.6%
Internship 6.9%
Teller 4.5%
Manager 3.0%
Specialist 2.9%
Volunteer 2.7%
Teacher 2.6%
Supervisor 2.6%
Secretary 2.6%
Top Employers After
Specialist 5.1%
Consultant 4.5%
Internship 4.4%
Cashier 3.6%
Manager 3.1%
Teller 3.0%
Volunteer 3.0%

Do you work as a Support Specialist?

Support Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

60.4%

Male

37.6%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

63.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.8%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

7.2%

Unknown

3.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.6%

French

8.7%

German

3.4%

Portuguese

2.8%

Chinese

2.5%

Russian

2.2%

Italian

1.8%

Mandarin

1.8%

Japanese

1.8%

Hmong

1.1%

Carrier

1.1%

Arabic

1.1%

Hindi

1.0%

Korean

0.9%

Cantonese

0.9%

Tagalog

0.8%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Filipino

0.6%

Swahili

0.5%

Romanian

0.5%
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Support Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

28.1%

Strayer University

6.4%

Kaplan University

6.2%

Liberty University

5.8%

Southern New Hampshire University

5.0%

Ashford University

5.0%

Capella University

4.9%

American InterContinental University

3.8%

Grand Canyon University

3.6%

Walden University

3.4%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.1%

University of Maryland - University College

3.1%

University of Houston

2.8%

Arizona State University

2.8%

Monroe Community College

2.8%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

2.7%

Florida State University

2.7%

University of Central Florida

2.6%

University of Louisville

2.6%

Northern Virginia Community College

2.6%
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Majors

Business

25.1%

Psychology

8.1%

Criminal Justice

6.0%

Computer Science

5.3%

Accounting

4.9%

Social Work

4.8%

Computer Information Systems

4.7%

Health Care Administration

4.5%

Information Technology

4.5%

Communication

3.9%

Nursing

3.4%

Management

3.3%

Human Services

3.1%

General Studies

2.8%

Education

2.8%

Medical Assisting Services

2.8%

Sociology

2.6%

Human Resources Management

2.5%

Liberal Arts

2.4%

Marketing

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.5%

Other

24.0%

Masters

15.0%

Associate

14.4%

Certificate

5.1%

Diploma

1.7%

Doctorate

1.0%

License

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Support Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Siteminder Support Specialist SDG Corporation Norwalk, CT Jan 11, 2015 $135,000
Siteminder Support Specialist SDG Corporation Norwalk, CT Jan 11, 2015 $120,000
Site Support Specialist Rockwell Automation, Inc. Houston, TX Jan 28, 2016 $119,100
Physics Support Specialist Accuray Incorporated Madison, WI Dec 04, 2016 $115,000
Site Support Specialist Rockwell Automation, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 12, 2014 $115,000
Physics Support Specialist Accuray Incorporated Madison, WI Sep 07, 2014 $115,000
Eikon Support Specialist Thomson Reuters (Markets) LLC New York, NY Aug 21, 2015 $113,190
Trading Support Specialist Citicorp North America, Inc. Houston, TX Jan 01, 2013 $111,500
BIM Premium Support Specialist Autodesk, Inc. Houston, TX May 07, 2015 $110,677 -
$178,200
Android Support Specialist, Tier II Amplify Education, Inc. New York, NY Sep 18, 2015 $110,000
Test Support Specialist II DLL Management Services, LLC Wayne, PA Jul 09, 2015 $109,117
Insight Support Specialist Adobe Systems Incorporated San Jose, CA Jun 29, 2013 $109,102
Jcaps Support Specialist Wise Men Consultants Inc. Houston, TX Jan 01, 2015 $108,000
Test Support Specialist DLL Management Services, LLC Wayne, PA Nov 05, 2015 $86,112
Decision Support Specialist American Public University System Charles Town, WV Aug 19, 2013 $85,000
Global Trade Support Specialist Convergex Group, LLC New York, NY May 11, 2015 $82,000
Server Support Specialist IBM Corporation Poughkeepsie, NY Jul 30, 2016 $81,640 -
$106,373
Server Support Specialist IBM Corporation Poughkeepsie, NY Jun 09, 2016 $81,640 -
$106,373
Support Specialists-III HCL America, Inc. Emeryville, CA Nov 27, 2013 $80,787 -
$100,000
Support Specialists-III HCL America, Inc. Pleasanton, CA Aug 24, 2013 $80,787 -
$100,000
Testing Support Specialist IBM India Private Limited Montvale, NJ Apr 15, 2013 $68,099
Support Specialists-III HCL America, Inc. Charlotte, NC Jan 14, 2014 $67,163 -
$87,000
Support Specialists-III HCL America, Inc. CA Dec 20, 2013 $66,269 -
$86,000
Support Specialists-III HCL America, Inc. Marlborough, MA May 14, 2013 $65,520 -
$85,000
Derivatives, Valuation, & Trading Risk Support Specialist TD Securities (USA) LLC New York, NY Nov 16, 2016 $65,187
Support Specialists-III HCL America, Inc. Pleasanton, CA May 24, 2013 $65,125 -
$86,000
Commputer Support Specialists Xyntek Inc. Yardley, PA Aug 05, 2014 $65,000
Support Specialist Google Inc. Chicago, IL Dec 14, 2015 $65,000

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Top Skills for A Support Specialist

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  1. Technical Support
  2. Customer Service
  3. Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide technical support and troubleshooting assistance with customers primarily over the phone and through electronic communication.
  • Provide exceptional customer service to participants and families/caregivers
  • Provided licensed banking team with sales presentations, marketing materials and account opening procedures to strengthen overall financial relationships with clientele.
  • Documented system configurations, inventory of computer hardware, software applications, and location for both current computers and retired units.
  • Performed daily/weekly data entry of commitment and obligation data into system, adjusting balances as required.

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