What Does an IT Support Specialist Do? And How To Become One
An IT support specialist is a highly-skilled professional with a strong background in computers and software. If you're a problem solver with advanced computer skills, you may want to consider a career in this in-demand field. In this article, we explain what IT support specialists do and how to become one.
What is an IT support specialist?
An IT support specialist troubleshoots computer issues and provides guidance to users. Those in this role are responsible for helping users with any technical challenges they may experience. If you plan to enter this field, you need to have strong communication skills and knowledge of common computer systems. It's your job to find solutions to the various IT problems clients or customers may experience.
What are the daily tasks of an IT support specialist?
The IT support specialist is a high-demand position primarily because their function is crucial to the successful daily operations of most businesses. An IT support specialist can expect to perform the following tasks:
Assist users in troubleshooting common computer issues or concerns
Reply to requests for information technology services, repairs, support, inquires or complaints
Refer user messages or calls to the appropriate IT personnel
Use a computer tracking system to manage new tickets
Make recommendations to improve computer systems
Provide documentation for customer support inquiries and resolutions
Upgrade and manage systems to ensure they are operating effectively and efficiently
Implement new business and productivity software
Train staff on new software, systems and best practices
Maintain and back up security databases
The average salary for IT support specialists
The national average salary for a support specialist is $43,905 per year as recorded on Indeed Salaries, where salary information is frequently updated. Salary can vary by industry, geographic location, education level and experience. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link above.
Related: Learn About Being an IT Specialist
Skills for an IT support specialist
An It support specialist is technologically savvy and comfortable troubleshooting computer issues. In addition to that, a successful IT support specialist has the following skills:
Analytical: Many of the problems you work to solve are highly technical in nature. It's your job to analyze a situation and figure out what the right solution might be. A skilled IT support specialist understands that there may be many moving parts that could cause a system error.
Communication: Much of this role will be communicating with customers or in-house users. You likely need to be comfortable and well-spoken on the phone. When using an email or live chat feature, you likely need the communication skills to give effective written instructions and advice.
Creative thinking: Every computer solution may not come to you right away. Sometimes it takes some creative thinking to find solutions to unique problems.
Organization: IT professionals often have to manage many tasks at once. Organizational skills can help you keep all of your ticket requests in order.
Patience: Users who are reaching out to you aren't going to be as knowledgeable about computer systems as you. Staying patient can help you explain what this user needs to do to fix their problem while keeping your composure.
Problem-solving: Troubleshooting is a major part of your job. Having problem-solving skills can help you be effective in this role.
Technical: You need a solid understanding of computer software and hardware. Understanding how these things work is how you're going to be able to solve your users' problems.
How to become an IT support specialist
Here are steps to becoming an IT support specialist:
1. Earn a college degree
Employers are looking for candidates with strong computer skills. While they may consider candidates without college degrees, earning an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related area of study can help you stand out among other candidates. Whether or not you attain a degree, you will likely need at least some amount of instruction to be proficient enough to do well in this position.
2. Develop your soft skills
Along with your technical skills, make an effort to develop the soft skills you’ll need for this role. Practice active listening to show that you can fully understand a user's needs and find the right solution for them. Regularly talking on the phone is a big part of this job, so make sure you have strong verbal communication skills as well.
3. Apply for an entry-level job or internship
While there are plenty of entry-level IT jobs, you can also enter this career through an internship. During your internship, ask thoughtful questions and try to network as much as you can. Often, an internship can turn into a full-time position.
How to advance as an IT support specialist
An optimal IT skill set is always shifting and has plenty of room to grow. Follow these steps to advance your career as an IT support specialist:
1. Earn certifications
Earning certifications proves to employers that you have a specialized set of skills. Some companies hire IT support specialists to provide service for one platform or area of expertise. Consider earning one of the following certifications:
Microsoft Technology Professional (MTA): Microsoft offers numerous certifications in areas like database fundamentals, security fundamentals, windows operating fundaments and other subjects that could advance your career. Determine which MTA certification will help you set yourself apart from other candidates.
CompTIA A+ Certification: This certification from CompTIA shows employers you have a solid foundation of hardware, technical support and troubleshooting. You will also learn about topics like operational procedures, mobile devices and security.
Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP): If you plan to work with the macOS, then you may want to get this certification. It proves you have expert-level experience in working with this system and have all the support essentials you need.
2. Gain experience
After a few years of working in a role where you support in-house users or customers, you can eventually get promoted to a higher-level position within your company. Prove that you have the skills to improve the design and effectiveness of the company's computer systems. If you work for a software or hardware company, you may even have more room for growth. Eventually, you could advance to roles such as a software developer or computer systems administrator.
Connecting with other people in the industry can help you advance your career. Join different IT professional groups where you can connect with fellow IT support specialists. Whenever you attend networking events, always bring multiple copies of your business card to hand out. Ensure to follow up with people you meet and maintain a professional connection.
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