Are you a new college graduate who wants to be CIO of Nike before you’re 30? Someone who left college before graduating but loves programming? A hard worker who fills your spare time by blogging and writing code? If any of those describe you, here’s a great job opportunity: become a desktop support technician for a company.
Keep in mind that some companies use the job title "desktop support technician" and others use the job title "help desk technician." Often, a help desk technician is phone-based, while a desktop support technician is more likely to go to a customer or end user's location to help provide assistance on computer issues. However, it really depends on the company.
Read on for more information about a typical desktop support technician position.
Check out our Salary Guide for specific salary information on a variety of help desk and desktop support jobs.
Desktop support technician: the job
What you need to know to get a desktop job
All desktop technicians need great communication, interpersonal and problem-solving skills, along with patience, a customer-friendly attitude and the ability to work in a team environment. In addition, you need a strong technical understanding of the hardware, software and the system (or systems) being supported.
What skills you need for a desktop job
Requirements depend on the position level. Entry-level positions (Help Desk Tier 1) usually require less than two years of work experience. Mid-level positions (Help Desk Tier 2) call for two to four years of experience, some desktop support experience and sometimes a degree.
Tier 3 positions – the last stop before desktop support analyst – usually require four years of help desk experience, a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field and some kind of professional certification.
What you’ll do as a desktop support technician
Depending on your level within the desktop support hierarchy, your day will vary. Initially, you’ll create tickets, handle inquiries and spend time troubleshooting relatively simple hardware, software, application or network problems. You’ll escalate more difficult issues to more experienced people in your group.
Eventually, with additional experience and training, you’ll be the one who tackles difficult problems, even those others have been unable to resolve. Analyzing trends in issue reporting and devising preventive solutions will be part of your job, as well as mentoring junior technicians.
Keep in mind the field is constantly evolving, which means you'll have to keep up with industry changes and update your skills to remain relevant.
How do I get there?
These tips will move you closer to a job as a desktop support technician:
- Be a tech generalist; know a lot about many areas of IT and maintain your current technical skills.
- Pick up additional tech skills on your own; play around with new languages and programs.
- Participate in user forums for the IT areas you are most interested in.
- Use a full range of job search tools, including telling people you know that you are looking for a desktop support technician job.
Where will it take me?
Many of today’s best jobs require sky-high qualifications to get in the door. Starting as a desktop support technician is one of the higher-paying jobs you can get without advanced degrees. It's also a great way to break into the tech industry. You may even move into management after getting years of help desk experience under your belt.