If you have mechanical ability, enjoy helping people and like to solve problems, you might make a great information technology (IT) help desk technician. Regardless of where they work, these technicians assess the problems customers report and help them reach solutions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, another name for an IT help desk technician is a computer user support specialist. Most techs provide help directly to end users via phone or email. In a large call center, however, they open a ticket and pass the request to an IT team for resolution.
As a help desk technician, you’ll ask customers questions to determine their problems and walk them through the steps to resolution. You might also set up or repair equipment or peripherals. Some technicians provide software and hardware training or furnish IT orientations for new employees.
Many technicians work on a contract basis for help desk services companies when organizations opt to outsource their work.
You must have a thorough knowledge of the hardware and software you support. Listening and interpersonal skills are essential. You should be good at solving problems and at communicating orally and in writing.
In order to be successful, you’ll need to handle a high amount of stress by pairing technical expertise with psychology to help frustrated end users. You must be comfortable sitting in front of a computer for long periods and working at a hectic pace.
You could work in a variety of settings. However, don’t expect a 9-to-5 schedule with most jobs. Since most organizations need computer support around the clock, techs could work nights and weekends. For hospitals, other medical settings and Internet services providers, holidays also require coverage. If working weekdays is important, consider employment with a software company.
While many employers want to hire individuals with a bachelor’s degree or some other training after high school, this is not necessarily a requirement.
If you find the type of work attractive, you might want to check out these related careers:
- General IT technician
- Computer programmer
- Customer service representative
- Database administrator
- Call center technician
Salary and Job Outlook
The BLS reports that in 2010, the median salary of an IT help desk technician was $46,260, or $22.24 an hour. The projected growth between 2010 and 2020 is 18 percent, an average rate.
Growth should be strong in healthcare industries, which are expected to steadily increase their use of information technology. In general, the demand for computer support to install and repair complex software and equipment should rise.
The amount and type of education you need for this occupation varies. According to the BLS, many employers prefer to hire IT support specialists with four-year degrees in concentrations like information science, computer science or engineering.
For some positions, particularly in call centers, you won’t need any post-high school degree. Although most organizations provide on-the-job training, you’ll need to continually complete training as technology updates.
The more hands-on IT experience you have, the better your chances of entering this field. I Have a Plan Iowa says there’s no single course available to teach you about this occupation because every organization requires techs to become experts in the products and services it offers.
Steps to Become an IT Help Desk Technician
To enter this career, networking is the name of the game. Compile a resumé and circulate it to every IT worker you know. Start by listing all IT skills you already have that could be useful to a help desk technician. Some industries, such as health care, use special software, so be sure to list all programs with which you’re familiar for an industry.
Consider an unpaid internship or part-time work to build skills and become known. Once you’re an experienced IT help desk technician, you can advance to careers such as computer programmer or systems analyst.