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Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations.

Work Environment

Most computer support specialists have full-time work schedules; however, many do not work typical 9-to-5 jobs. Because computer support is important for businesses, support services may need to be available 24 hours a day. As a result, many support specialists must work nights or weekends.

How to Become a Computer Support Specialist

Because of the wide range of skills used in different computer support jobs, there are many paths into the occupation. A bachelor’s degree is required for some computer support specialist positions, but an associate’s degree or postsecondary classes may be enough for others.

Pay

The median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $63,460 in May 2019.

The median annual wage for computer user support specialists was $52,270 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of computer support specialists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. More support services will be needed as organizations upgrade their computer equipment and software.

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations. These specialists either support computer networks or they provide technical assistance directly to computer users.

Duties

Computer network support specialists typically do the following:

  • Test and evaluate existing network systems
  • Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks operate correctly
  • Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Internet systems

Computer user support specialists typically do the following:

  • Pay attention to customers’ descriptions of their computer problems
  • Ask customers questions to properly diagnose the problem
  • Walk customers through the recommended problem-solving steps
  • Set up or repair computer equipment and related devices
  • Train users to work with new computer hardware or software, such as printers, word-processing software, and email
  • Provide other team members and managers in the organization with information about what gives customers the most trouble and about other concerns customers have

Computer user support specialists, also called help-desk technicians, usually provide technical help to non-IT computer users. They respond to phone and email requests for help. They can usually help users remotely, but they also may make site visits so that they can solve a problem in person.

Help-desk technicians may solve a range of problems that vary with the industry and the particular firm. Some technicians work for large software companies or for support service firms and must give instructions to business customers on how to use business-specific programs such as an electronic health records program used in hospitals or physicians’ offices. Sometimes they work with other technicians to resolve problems.

Other help-desk technicians work in call centers, answering simpler questions from nonbusiness customers. They may walk customers through basic steps in reestablishing an Internet connection or troubleshooting household IT products such as Wi-Fi routers.

Computer network support specialists held about 195,100 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of computer network support specialists were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services19%
Telecommunications11
Finance and insurance7
Management of companies and enterprises6
Data processing, hosting, and related services4

Computer user support specialists held about 687,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of computer user support specialists were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services22%
Educational services; state, local, and private12
Management of companies and enterprises5
Software publishers4
Temporary help services4

Faster computer networks are making it possible for some support specialists, particularly help-desk technicians, to telework, or work from their home. However, a few specialized help-desk technicians may have to travel to a client’s location to solve a problem.

Work Schedules

Most computer support specialists have full-time work schedules; however, many do not work typical 9-to-5 jobs. Because computer support is important for businesses, support services may need to be available 24 hours a day. As a result, many support specialists must work nights or weekends.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of computer support specialists.

 OccupationJob DutiesEntry-Level EducationMedian Annual Pay, May 2019
 

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.

Bachelor’s degree$146,360
 

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Bachelor’s degree$112,690
 

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly.

Bachelor’s degree$86,550
 

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and find a solution that is more efficient and effective.

Bachelor’s degree$90,920
 

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and answer questions.

High school diploma or equivalent$34,710
 

Database Administrators

Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data.

Bachelor’s degree$93,750
 

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.

Bachelor’s degree$83,510
 

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Bachelor’s degree$99,730
 

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites.

Associate’s degree$73,760

For more information about computer support specialists, visit

Association of Support Professionals

Help Desk Institute (HDI)

Technology Services Industry Association

For more information about computer careers, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

Computing Research Association

IEEE Computer Society

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Support Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm (visited ).