Desktop support professionals help organizations stay productive during tech-related trials and tribulations, and PC support skills are part of the job. But which ones?
The rapid developments in technology mean some skills grow quickly from nice-to-haves to absolute requirements. Other skills, such as Windows XP and perhaps COBOL, are on pace to becoming obsolete.
But even with the constant technology churn, some foundational knowledge hasn’t diminished in importance. Here are four core PC support skills that every desktop support pro still needs in the toolbox.
Wi-Fi is now common in most workplaces, and that's likely why wireless network engineers topped our list for highest-paying IT jobs. Wi-Fi gives workers more flexibility and makes it easier to go online, no matter where they choose to take their laptop or handheld device. However, heavy reliance on connectivity can increase problems, as well: Given today’s network-enabled and network-dependent applications, a user who is offline is often a user who cannot work. This makes proficiency in troubleshooting and fixing Wi-Fi connectivity issues a must-have PC support skill for desktop support technicians.
Windows remains the king of desktop and laptop computing. Shipments of such devices have been down over the last few years, but Windows is not going away any time soon in enterprise IT. Microsoft says Windows 10 has been downloaded on more than 110 million devices since it launched the updated operating system on July 29. So it’s a sure bet Windows 10 PC support skills will be in high demand for some time to come.
The user interface in Windows 10 (as in Windows 8) differs from Windows 7 and earlier versions. These differences take some learning, and there’s a slew of new features, such as the Cortana digital assistant, the Edge web browser and Continuum. Be sure to get up to date on these features now if you want to show potential employers that you stay current with important technologies. You might also consider getting a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification to highlight your Windows expertise.
Office is still a critical PC support skill, and will be for the foreseeable future. Not only does this application suite continue to dominate enterprise IT, but Word, Excel and PowerPoint are now available on Android and iOS, giving desktop support technicians more potential issues to troubleshoot. There is also the challenge of supporting Office 365 subscriptions, OneDrive cloud storage and Docs.com. MCP certification can help your resume in this area, too.
Smartphones have become an indispensable tool in business, and many enterprises are taking advantage of tablets — as laptop replacements, specialized tools in factories and warehouses, and so on. As nimble and convenient as they are, mobile devices come with unique support challenges. They are closed systems, which means it’s not easy to “get under the hood” and fix problems. Furthermore, if your organization supports bring-your-own-device (BYOD) users, help desk technicians have to be familiar with a wide variety of operating systems, brands, and mobile provider companies and networks.
Staying current on technological developments is obviously a requirement in the tech industry. But expertise as a desktop support analyst means more than knowledge of cutting-edge apps and tools. If you feel your knowledge is slipping in any of the above core PC support skills, brush up and keep up. Even consider taking some courses. Your employer and future employers, not to mention you, will be glad you did.
Looking for a position as a PC support technician? Check out Robert Half Technology’s job search page. Find out what a PC support technician's starting pay is in your area: