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What Is an IT Support Technician?

Learn about common job duties, training requirements and salary potential for information technology (IT) support technicians. Find out where you could work and what credentials could bolster your earnings.

What Is an IT Support Technician?

An IT support technician is responsible for helping customers and consumers understand how to use and fix their computers or other various technologies. You may receive complaint calls about malfunctioning equipment and have to diagnose the problem over the phone and help the customer solve the problem if possible. Technicians must be extremely knowledgeable about the equipment they are providing support for so as to best assist the customer. The table below provides some details about this career:

Degree Required Associate's degree or postsecondary training; Bachelor's required for some positions
Education Field of Study Information technology, computer science, computer programming
Key Responsibilities Provide assistance to computer users, troubleshoot problems, provide solutions, provide technical support via phone or online
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11%
Median Salary (2018)* $50,980

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an IT Support Technician Do?

As an information technology support technician, you'll assist computer users with setup, maintenance, troubleshooting and problems they have with their computers. You'll often provide both in-person technical support and assist customers remotely, generally via phone or e-mail. You might offer support services exclusively for a certain technological product, such as a software program or particular hardware peripheral, or help users with any computer-related problem. Viruses, loss of data, non-working software programs, troublesome hardware setup and faulty Internet connections are potential issues you might encounter in an IT support technician job.

As an IT support technician, you must have excellent communication and problem-solving skills. Much of your typical workday could consist of discussing computer problems and operations with people who may know much less about technology than you do. You'll need to be able to translate complex technical issues into simple terms. If you provide telephone support, you must be able to understand end users' descriptions of their computer problems in order to correctly troubleshoot them. You'll need to stay calm and patient when dealing with panicked or irate computer users.

Where Will I Work?

To some extent, your exact working environment may dictate your job title and duties. You may work as a help desk technician for a computer manufacturer or software company, providing support services to consumers of a specific product. You may also offer support and technical assistance to employees or a firm or corporation in government, private or public sectors. Depending on the job and company, you may work in an office or be required to travel to customer businesses or residences to provide on-site service.

What Kind of Education Would I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most IT support specialists require some form of formal education or a degree in information technology for entry-level employment (www.bls.gov). You can also study a related field, such as computer science, networking or programming. Degree programs give you a strong background in relevant computer technology concepts, including data structures, programming languages, hardware architecture, software applications, information security and systems logic. You'll learn to use specific technical support tools for troubleshooting and systems analysis.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to BLS salary data, computer user support specialists earned a median annual wage of $50,980 in 2018. The salary information website, PayScale.com, broke down earnings information for computer support specialists by several factors, including experience, certification and education. As of November 2019, entry-level technical support specialists with up to five years of experience reported a median salary of $15.09 per hour, while professionals with 5-10 years of experience earned a median of $19.07 per hour. For those with 10-20 years of experience, median salary is around $22.40 per hour, while late career professionals with over 20 years of experience earn a median of $23 per hour, yearly.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For individuals with an interest in technology and computers, there are a number of other careers they may be interested in pursuing. You may wish to become a computer repair technician, which would involve manually handling and fixing computer parts. You may also be interested in a career as a computer network technician, which involves many of the same responsibilities but is focused on maintaining, repairing, and answering questions about a specific computer network.