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How Can I Become an IT Support Specialist?

Research what it takes to become an IT support specialist. Learn about the job duties, education requirements and potential salary to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is an IT Support Specialist?

Installation, evaluation and improvement: these responsibilities represent the expertise of the IT (information technology) support specialist. Addressing all things technology in an organizational setting, the IT support specialist collaborates in most aspects of computer, software and network systems development.

As such, the specialist might analyze and assess new digital systems and their value to a particular organization. They might assess the suitability of existing systems as well. Upgrades, expansions and other improvement-minded measures will therefore fall largely under the guidance of the IT support specialist.

In addition to aiding in the installation and progression of technology systems, the specialist will diagnose and attempt to correct technology-related problems that may arise for employees or company customers, so troubleshooting is also a strong component of this job. As an added means of support, IT specialists will often compose how-to manuals or other instructional IT policies.

The following table provides an overview for this career:

Degree Required Associate's degree (minimum); bachelor's degree (recommended)
Education Field of Study Computer science, information systems, information technology, computer engineering
Key Responsibilities Diagnosing hardware or software issues, assisting users with computer operations, repairing equipment, training new users
Job Growth (2018-2028) 10%* (for all computer support specialists)
Average Salary (2018) $50,980* (for computer user support specialists); $62,770* (for computer network support specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need to Become an IT Support Specialist?

The required training and education will depend on your potential employer. Ideally, you should earn a 2-year associate's degree or a 4-bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, information technology or computer engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor's degree in any field is sometimes acceptable for employers, as long as an applicant has the technical skills to work as an IT support specialist (www.bls.gov). Many employers offer on-the-job training to new hires.

Educational training may include general courses in economics, psychology, business mathematics, and oral and written communications. You'll also take technical classes in software and hardware installation, operating systems, spreadsheet applications, troubleshooting, networking and advanced database manipulation. It's common for computer professionals to participate in continuing education courses. You can find these programs through colleges or computer vendors, and sometimes through employers.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Your daily job tasks may involve diagnosing hardware or software issues and contacting technicians for repair, assisting users with computer operations and answering their questions, and making repairs to equipment. Your job may also require training users on the use of new software programs and writing training materials. Additionally, it may be your responsibility to observe operations and ensure that your employer's computer network is running properly at all times.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2018 that the average salary for computer user support specialists was $50,980 (www.bls.gov). At that same time, computer network support specialist made an average of $62,770, per the BLS. User support specialists working in computer systems design and related services made an average of $51,800 annually; network support specialists in the same industry made $65,300, on average, in 2018.

What Are Some Related Alternative Occupations?

After you have earned a degree, you may be able to work as a help desk analyst, computer systems analyst, or network support specialist. Each of these professions aid users and help improve systems in the digital world.

If you are interested in the development and building of technology systems, consider jobs as a software developer, a computer network architect, a computer programmer or computer-aided designer.

Oversight of daily technology-related functions often rests in the hands of professionals like network and computer systems administrators, database administrators and webmasters.