Computer Support Specialist Requirements: Degree & Skills

Discover the degree and skills needed to become a computer support specialist. Learn more about the specific job duties so you can determine if this career is right for you. Schools offering Computer Support Technician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Computer support specialists provide technical assistance as a member of an IT (information technology) department or help desk. They troubleshoot issues with computer software and equipment and find appropriate solutions. Learn more details about this career in the table that follows.

Recommended Education Associate's degree or postsecondary certificate; bachelor's degree may be preferred
Field of Study Computer-related coursework
Key Skills Detail-oriented, communication, customer service, problem-solving
Job Growth (2016-2026) 11%*
Median Salary (2018) $53,470*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of Computer Support Specialists?

Computer support specialists assist users with all aspects of computer systems, such as set up, software installation, and solving problems. They are responsible for backing up information on a routine basis, as well as keeping the operating systems updated. Computer support specialists handle information, support, and repair requests, either by phone, online, or in person. They may also be responsible for developing technical documentation and ordering computer equipment.

Computer support specialists may be responsible internally for a network and work with a company's IT department or they might provide external support for an individual software company. They typically work full-time. Since computer support is needed 24 hours a day, specialists may need to work in the evenings and weekends. It is common for computer support specialists to be on call around the clock.

What Are the Degree Requirements?

There is no overall degree requirement for becoming a computer support specialist. While some jobs may only require computer-related classes, having a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree can open the specialist to more job opportunities. These programs typically take one to two years to complete and include coursework in areas such as computer operating systems, hardware, software, help desk techniques, and computer networks.

Larger software companies may require computer support specialists to have a bachelor's degree in fields such as computer science or information science, especially if the job is more technical.

What Other Skills Are Required?

Computer support specialists need strong problem-solving skills to identify and solve complex computer problems. They might work with users of varying skill levels, so will need strong written and oral communication skills to explain complicated computer problems to nontechnical users. Computer support specialists often work closely with customers and may need to be patient, friendly, and sympathetic with frustrated computer users.

Is Certification Available?

Certification is not required; however, there are several ways to obtain voluntary certification. Becoming certified can help computer support specialists stay updated in their field and increase opportunities for job advancement. Some vendors, such as Microsoft, offer certification tailored to the products for those who want to specialize. Other companies, such as CompTIA, offer certification that covers general topics such as hardware, network troubleshooting, and security.

The certification process typically involves passing one or more exams. To maintain certification, computer support specialists may need to complete an exam or continuing education credits.

What Are the Salary and Job Outlook for Computer Support Specialists?

The median 2018 salary for computer support specialists was $53,470, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are expected to grow by 11% from 2016 to 2026, which is considered faster than average for all occupations. As companies continue to upgrade their computer equipment to stay updated with the current technology, computer support specialists will be needed to meet this demand. Healthcare organizations, in particular, are expected to increase the use of computer technology, creating more jobs for computer support specialists.

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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