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What Does a Support Engineer Do?

If you've heard of 'support engineering' and wondered, 'supporting what, exactly?' then here's your answer. In this article, we'll define a support engineer's job, clarifying duties and responsibilities, work environment, and salary statistics.

Career Overview

Support engineers design computer systems that can be easily maintained and repaired. Additionally, support engineers provide ongoing assistance in keeping computer systems working and their users happy. Any large computer system, such as those found in businesses, government offices and universities, requires the services of a support engineer.

Important Facts About Support Engineers

Required Education Varies depending upon place of employment; some may only require an associate's degree or postsecondary certificate or classes
Key Skills customer focused, computer competency, critical thinking, problem solving, close listening, clear verbal and written communication
Work Environment Computer systems design and related services; educational services; information companies; administrative and support services; wholesale trade
Similar Occupations Customer service representatives; database administrators; information security analysts; computer network architects; computer programmers

Duties and Responsibilities

Depending on the employer, a support engineer's duties may vary widely. However, the majority of the workload tasked to support engineers falls into one of two categories: systems design or technical support.

Systems Design

The responsibility of a support engineer starts in putting together a computer system that can be easily maintained. From hardware to software, programming to user-friendliness, the support engineer's job is to make sure that the large computer systems and networks deployed by businesses, universities, and nuclear power plants function as they are required to. Depending on the experience of the engineer and the size of the system, a support engineer may work as part of a team to build an entire network or work on one specific element of a larger project.

Technical Support

Once a computer system is deployed, the support engineer is there to keep it running. By providing technical support to the users of the system, support engineers fix issues when they arise and mitigate problems that can't be quickly solved, to keep everything going smoothly. As the computer network expands and develops, the support engineer will also ensure that the growth is handled in a way that will lead to the fewest hassles.

Required Skills

Support engineers should generally have a background in computer science and certification in computer systems. For example, some employers expect their support engineers to hold certification as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). Support engineers also need to operate computer databases and to be familiar with Web technology. Most support engineers will be fluent in computer programming and the UNIX operating system.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of support engineers in the field of information technology (IT) earn between $37,000 and $91,000 a year, as of May 2019. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) projects that the employment of computer support specialists, including support engineers, will likely grow by about 11% between 2016 and 2026.