Computer Support Specialist: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a computer support specialist. Learn about job duties, education requirements, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Computer Support Technician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Computer Support Specialist Do?

Computer support specialists help businesses maintain and improve their computer systems. Working under computer and network systems administrators, computer network support specialists test, maintain and troubleshoot current network systems. Computer user support specialists, also referred to as help-desk technicians, are the individuals who perform the necessary repairs and adjustments to customer's computers. They may set up and/or repair devices and train users in the operation of new software or hardware.

The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer science, information science, computer-related subjects
Key Skills Problem-solving skills, good verbal and written communication skills, customer service, listening skills
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% (for computer support specialists)
Median Salary (2015)* $48,620 (for computer user support specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Computer Support Specialist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists are technical support specialists and help-desk technicians. A technical support specialist is responsible for ensuring the stability of a company's IT (information technology), particularly computer systems. In this occupation, you could be called on to resolve Internet connectivity issues, software and hardware malfunctions and problems with wireless networks. You might also be responsible for training employees to use a company's computers and software programs.

A help-desk technician is a technically trained customer service representative. You would respond to phone calls from customers who have a variety of IT problems. Your job would be to determine the source of the problem and work with the customer to find the solution, giving careful instructions that a customer can understand and follow. You could walk a customer through the process of installing or removing software programs, configuring routers or modems, setting up firewalls and using hardware such as printers.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

In 2015, the BLS reported that computer support specialists have a variety of educational backgrounds, from technical experience alone to associate's and bachelor's degrees in computer-related areas. One option is an Associate of Science in Computer Science, which is a 2-year degree program in which you study topics like hardware and software, computer architecture, data storage, troubleshooting and programming. Lab courses allow you to explore operating systems, computer architecture, software programs and hardware.

In a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program, you would take courses in mathematics, operating systems, software design, programming languages and network security. In computer labs, you would learn to apply computer science principles to design software systems and troubleshoot problems. Towards the end of the program, you could get an internship at a local company where you would gain hands-on experience in the IT support industry.

How Much Could I Earn?

In October 2016, computer technical support specialists earned a median annual salary of $47,445, according to Payscale.com who reported the middle-half salary range was $40,000-$58,000. The median salary for computer user support specialists was $48,620 in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Web developers are actually website designers and creators. They are not only responsible for how a website looks, but also for the efficiency of its performance. They may also be responsible for the content displayed on the website. This is all done with the cooperation and consultation of the client in order to determine how the client wants the website to appear and what information and data is to be provided on it.

Businesses and individuals want to be able to feel that the information on their computers is safe from outside interference. Fulfilling this requirement is the duty of the information security analyst. They develop and institute security measures to ensure the well-being of a computer's networks. They monitor the systems in order to guard against any security breaches and to troubleshoot and to initiate protective measures against potential cyber attacks. They make recommendations to the client or management regarding the improvement of no-longer-effective security measures.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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