Information technology support covers a range of technical and non-technical services designed to improve the experience of computer users. IT support officers, also known as computer support specialists, install computer systems and diagnose software problems on site or remotely by phone or email. IT support officers can work in diverse places, ranging from healthcare facilities and educational institutions to government agencies and business entities.
Using the Skills
Strong technical skills are central to the competence of IT support officers. They must be able to perform specialized tasks, such as configuring computer operating systems and applications. When an application malfunctions, these officers rely on their strong skills in troubleshooting and solving problems to detect the cause of the malfunction and implement a suitable remedy. In most cases, IT support officers work in small teams or units. As such, they need teamwork skills to be effective unit members. Speaking skills are essential too, because these officers often need to provide clear responses when handling support cases over the phone.
Responding to Support Requests
IT support officers handle support requests. When a bank’s employees can’t log on the firm’s corporate computer, for instance, these officers are called in to troubleshoot the issue. They may begin by performing basic diagnostic tests, such as scanning the network for malware. After identifying and fixing the problem, the IT support officers can reconfigure the computer network or implement system upgrades to make it more fault-tolerant. If the issue is beyond their professional expertise, they escalate it to other specialists such as computer or network engineers.
Documenting Service Requests
Another duty of IT support officers is to keep accurate records of service requests. This role involves entering the nature of a request and the implemented resolution into a computer database. Organizations use this data to analyze computer and software faults and formulate effective preventive maintenance strategies. Other duties of IT support officers include testing various IT products and recommending their purchase, and maintaining positive relationships with vendors and suppliers of IT products.
Becoming an IT Support Officer
Prospective IT support officers with a technical diploma or associate degree in help desk support can find jobs in small companies. Those who want to work in large companies with complex computer systems might need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science or computer engineering and some relevant work experience. Some software companies also offer professional certifications, which support specialists can obtain to improve their prospects. Microsoft, for example, offers the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert designation to specialists who want to demonstrate their proficiency in the Windows operating systems. Competent support officers who gain vast work experience can advance to become IT support managers.
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