Becoming a Computer Support Technician

Are you interested in pursuing a career as a computer support technician? Computer support technicians, also known as computer support specialists, help people use computers. They provide technical advice and support to individuals and organizations that work with information technology.

Computer support technicians are typically responsible for responding to inquiries, complaints, and requests for assistance. Some technicians respond to these inquiries by telephone or email, while others assist customers in person. Computer support specialists are usually hired by vendors to assist customers who have purchased their products or by companies to assist employees onsite.

Computer support technicians work in a wide range of settings, including computer systems design companies, financial institutions, government agencies, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, telecommunications organizations, and software publishers. Tasks that a computer support technician may be responsible for on the job include the following:

  • Install, modify, clean, and repair hardware, software, and peripheral equipment
  • Determine requirements for new systems and modifications
  • Develop training materials and procedures
  • Run automatic diagnostics programs to resolve problems
  • Oversee daily performance of computer systems
  • Respond to phone calls and emails

Computer support technicians generally work in offices or computer laboratories. An increasing number of computer support specialists are able to provide technical support remotely, owing to advances in technology.

Education Required for Becoming a Computer Support Specialist

Computer support training requirements vary widely, but most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a formal college education. Some employers require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, computer engineering or some other computer-related field, while others hire applicants with bachelor’s degrees in any field, as long as they possess the necessary technical skills. In some cases, computer certifications may substitute formal education requirements and qualify applicants for entry-level positions. Certification programs are offered by product vendors and training institutions.

Most computer support specialists receive on-the-job training for about three months. Computer support technicians must continually acquire new computer skills throughout their careers to keep up with the evolution of technology. Many employers will fund this training. It is also essential for computer support technicians to hone their communication and problem-solving skills, because they have to troubleshoot and interact with customers or employees regularly.

Typical Computer Support Technician Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of computer support technicians was $43,450 in May of 2008. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,580, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,750. Although some employers may outsource computer support tech jobs to countries where the wages are lower in order to cut costs, the employment of computer support specialists is expected to increase faster than average as organizations continue to adopt new technologies, which are becoming increasingly complex.

Those with a bachelor’s degree, relevant skills, and previous work experience will likely have the best job prospects. Job growth in the field will be the fastest in industries that depend on technology, such as technical consulting, computer systems design, and software publishing. To begin your career as a computer support technician, start exploring computer schools today!