Information technology support jobs play a crucial role in many fields, including business software, telecommunications, finance, insurance and education. The field is fast-growing and often offers opportunities for advancement. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 17 percent increase in IT support jobs between 2012 and 2022, compared to 11 percent for all jobs. Positions for IT support specialists typically require at least some post-secondary training.
Education and Certifications
Many companies require a degree in computer science or a computer-related field for IT support jobs. However, some employers hire workers with an associate degree or post-secondary classes in a related field. Microsoft, Cisco or CompTIA certification is also highly desirable. Certification can equip college graduates with unrelated majors for the career or even substitute for a degree. However, specialists with a degree typically command higher salaries and have better chances of advancing to higher positions, such as support services manager. Continuing education is essential for IT support workers because the field is ever-expanding.
Depending on the level of the position, experience also plays a very important role in IT support. Entry-level jobs don't require previous professional experience. However, new support specialists must understand the basics of customer service and have a working knowledge of computer software and hardware. Jobs requiring more expertise may require a year or more of experience. Sometimes, experience can replace education because it shows a demonstrated ability to do the job.
Communication and Customer Service
Good oral and written communication skills and customer service abilities are essential for dealing with end-users. The ability to listen carefully to understand customers' problems is crucial to the job. Customer service also requires the ability to handle stress because end users may be angry or upset about their difficulties, which can make the situation tense.
The ability to problems solve is key. IT support workers must be able to think creatively to to come up with a solution to a difficult problem. They also need research skills to resolve difficulties that are new to them or beyond their present level of expertise.
Computer support specialists who anticipate problems in advance can save their employers a lot of money. The job description of many IT specialists includes monitoring systems and responding to minor alerts to keep them from becoming major issues. Specialists who consistently think ahead and identify issues before they become problems are especially valuable.
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