Computer Support Specialists Overview

Some employers will accept an associate’s degree or certification while most employers require their computer support specialists to obtain a bachelor’s degree. College graduates with relevant skills and experience will have the best job prospects.

Nature of the Work for Computer Support Specialists

Computer Support Specialists

The work of a computer support specialist involves providing advice as well as assisting and supporting organizations and individuals who are dependent on information technology. Computer support specialists can work for computer hardware or software vendors, third-party organizations such as help-desk service firms, as well as other organizations using computer systems.

There are both technical support specialists and help-desk technicians. The role of a technical support specialist is to respond to any inquires from computer users of an organization. They may run automatic diagnostics as well as solve any problems. Their job may include writing training manuals as well as to train users in new hardware and software. The company’s computer systems rely on the technical support specialist to oversee the systems’ daily performance while using Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN) to resolve any technical problems.

The role of a help-desk technician is to respond to any emails or phone calls from customers who need help with a computer problem. Their job is to listen to the customer and diagnose the problem while providing problem-solving steps. The job can also entail installing, cleaning, modifying or repairing computer hardware and software. Some computer support specialists start out working at the help desk.

The work environment for computer support specialists usually involves a well-lit office or laboratory. The typical workweek for a computer support specialist is usually 40 hours a week while those working for third-party support firms are usually working at a client’s location rather than an office.

The expansion of computer networks can result in computer support specialists providing technical support from remote locations, eliminating the necessary travel to a customer’s workplace and giving them the chance to work from home.

Injuries to computer support specialists are uncommon although long periods at the computer can result in eyestrain, back discomfort or hand and wrist problems.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Computer Support Specialists

Though an associate’s degree or certification is usually sufficient, a college degree is usually required for computer support specialist positions. Communication skills and problem-solving skills are also important for computer support specialists.

Employers usually prefer to hire computer support specialists with some sort of formal college education even though training requirements can vary. Some jobs require computer support specialists to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or information systems while some require an associate’s degree in a computer-related field. Some employers may accept computer support specialists without formal education who have computer experience and certification.

On-the-job training, usually lasting from a week to a year, is usually provided to computer support specialists after they have been hired. Computer support specialists may receive training throughout their careers in order to keep up with the changes in technology. Some employers, colleges and universities, hardware and software vendors and private training institutions provide computer support specialists with professional training programs as well.

Computer support specialists may be qualified for a job with proper certification which can demonstrate their proficiency in a certain product or process. Some hardware and software vendors will demand their computer support specialists to receive certifications while many organizations provide voluntary certification programs.

Important qualifications for computer support specialists are strong problem-solving skills, communication skills, and the ability to work well with others. Communication is constantly required using email, the phone and in-person interaction. Strong writing skills are important computer support specialists who communicate via email as well as prepare manuals for customers and employees.

The role of an entry-level computer support specialist usually involves working with in-house users or customers. Advancement can include handling more complex problems and products while some advance into management roles or find jobs in other occupations such as software engineers and computer programmers.

The job performance of a computer support specialist will affect a person’s promotion while education and professional certification can also help a computer support specialist advance. Much advancement also occurs in hardware and software companies.

Top 10 Most Popular Computer Science Schools

1. University of Phoenix (Multiple Campus Locations)
2. ECPI University (Multiple Campus Locations)
3. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York)
4. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)
5. Kaplan University - online (Multiple Campus Locations)
6. Colorado Technical University (Multiple Campus Locations)
7. University of Maryland - University College (Hyattsville, Maryland)
8. San Jose State University (San Jose, California)
9. New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, New Jersey)
10. DePaul University (Chicago, Illinois)

See All Computer Science Schools

Top 10 Most Popular Online Computer Science Schools

1. University of Phoenix - Online School
2. Colorado Technical University - Online School
3. American InterContinental University - Online School
4. Jones International University - Online
5. Kaplan University - Online School
6. Ashworth College - Online School
7. DeVry University - Online School
8. Ashford University - Online
9. Penn Foster - Online School
10. South University - Online Programs

See All Online Computer Science Schools

Employment and Job Outlook for Computer Support Specialists

Number of People in Profession

540,560

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow faster than average (increase 14 - 19%).

Many computer support specialists work in administrative and support services companies, insurance companies, government agencies, software publishers, educational institutions, telecommunications organizations, healthcare organizations as well as computer systems design and other related service industries.

Computer support specialists with a college degree and relevant work skills will have the best job opportunities available to them.

As organizations and individuals implement new forms of technology, the work of computer support specialists is needed to resolve any technical problems that may occur. Since information technology is becoming an essential part of many business environments, computer support specialists will be needed to provide support.

Industries that rely heavily on technology will contribute to the job growth for computer support specialists. Such industries include the software publishing industry and the management, scientific, and technical consulting industry.

Healthcare and other related establishments looking to improve their technology and information systems to help patient care may also need computer systems specialists and the support they provide.

Due to offshore outsourcing, some jobs may be affected since increases in technology can allow computer support specialists to provide assistance from remote locations.

Relevant technical and communication skills, previous work experience, and a bachelor’s degree will be beneficial for computer support specialists looking for jobs.

Earnings and Salary for Computer Support Specialists

Median annual wages of wage-and-salary computer support specialists are $44,300. The middle 50 percent earn between $34,320 and $57,290. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $27,200, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $72,690.

Annual Salary for Computer Support Specialists

On average, Computer Support Specialists earn $44,300 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $27,200/yr $34,320/yr $57,290/yr $72,690/yr

Hourly Wage for Computer Support Specialists

On average, Computer Support Specialists earn $21.30 per hour.

10% 25% 75% 90% $13.08 $16.50 $27.54 $34.95

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook