Jobs within the information technology (IT) services sector like those for a computer support specialist are targeted by many who are looking for comfortable levels of job growth, security and compensation. The IT professional services rendered to businesses operating across all industries vary in scope and required skill level which makes the IT sector an ideal one to enter for those who are just starting their careers as well as people who are considered to be career changers. For example, recent Bachelor of Science in Computer Science graduates can find employment as junior software developers, but someone with a degree in a related discipline can earn certifications designed to qualify them for entry level IT positions as support specialists or operators. Here are some of the duties of computer support specialists, the special types of skills needed for success and the typical education and training path taken to gain the position.
Computer Support Specialist Duties
When new employees join a company and receive the computer packages that they need to do their jobs, it is the responsibility of the company’s computer support specialist to ensure that desktop hardware, cables and other peripheral equipment are properly set up. They also make sure that each computer has the latest version of application and operating system software installed per company guidelines. When new or seasoned employees experience operational problems when using their computers, computer support specialists are called to fix those problems, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These specialists log computer issues, troubleshoot systems, conduct minor repairs and close out trouble tickets. When new computing functionality is needed, computer support specialists help to develop the performance requirements for new computer systems. They also facilitate company wide user training for new computer systems.
Skills of Successful Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists need foundational knowledge of the computer systems supported to set them up properly. However, the most challenging part of the job for many computer support specialists is troubleshooting. These IT professionals must possess keen problem solving abilities to handle this part of the job, because they are likely to receive any type of trouble ticket from users. Attention to detail must accompany great problem solving skills when computer support specialists attempt to troubleshoot. This skill could mean the difference between closing out a simple trouble ticket within minutes and spending large amounts of time investigating problems that often turn out to be as mundane as loosened cables. Successful computer support specialists need great customer service and communication skills because they must relay technical information to audiences of varying IT knowledge and expertise.
Becoming a Computer Support Specialist
Many computer support specialists gain entrance into this field with an associate level degree in IT Computer Support or Computer Information Systems; these degree programs generally take two years to complete. Other aspiring computer support specialists take various certification courses that emphasize knowledge of Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems as well as basic computer hardware. Depending on the depth of the certificate program, computer support specialists also learn about internet technologies, server equipment and network administration.
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The job of computer support specialist can range from relatively routine to moderately challenging depending on the type of computer systems used and the level of skill of the parties using the systems. However, fundamental analytical and interpersonal skills are essential to all computer support specialist positions.