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Computer Support Specialist

colleges offer programs related to this career near San Mateo, CA

Career Overview

Even though computers are an essential part of daily life in the office and at home, not everyone is an expert when it comes to fixing them when they break. Thankfully, you can call computer support specialists for help when you're having trouble with software or dysfunctional equipment.Also known as help-desk technicians, computer support specialists usually work onsite at an office and can solve a user's computer issues in person. In most cases however, phone calls and email conversations are much more common for minor problems.When you get a help request or call, the first thing you do is ask what them to describe the problem. If it still seems a little unclear, you can always ask follow up questions to get a better understanding. Once you've figured it out, you'll have to walk them through the solution, step by step. For good measure, you might also choose to offer advice or tips to prevent similar problems in the future. Once the problem is resolved, that's the end of the call and it's time to move on to the next request.Computer support specialists get calls and requests constantly throughout the day. Some days might be slower than others, but a number of problems could arise on any given day. They could be as little as missing software components to something as large as a corrupted network. In the end, it really just comes down to customer service, and helping people solve their problems.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
National
$50,210
613,780
11.2 %
California
$59,430
69,030
 

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
Associate's Degree in Computer Science, Information Science, or related fields

The education level you need depends on where you want to work. Sometimes, you might be able to get away with just having computer-related classes under your belt. To be safe, it's a good idea to earn at least an associate's degree. From there, you could work internally in an organization and provide tech support for other employees. But if you want to work for bigger companies and give customer tech support, you might need to go back and earn your bachelor's degree.It's also important to note that if you're looking to advance into administrator or manager positions, you'll definitely need a higher degree to get there. In addition, you'll also need to continue learning throughout your career since technological advancements are constantly being made.

 
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Valued Traits & Abilities

Communication Skills
Problem-Solving Skills
Computer Skills
Patience

Career Opportunities

No matter what you end up doing in your tech support career, the two things that change the most are where you work and who you work with. Some people work internally within an organization while others provide assistance to their customers. Though, if you choose to specialize your career further, there is one other option.

Computer Network Support Specialist

Sometimes called technical support specialists, computer network support specialists make sure the network systems function properly. Instead of working with non-IT people, they assist the IT team directly, and help resolve problems related to the network. The job can be a little more demanding because network problems must be resolved as quickly as possible.

Work Environment

It's common for many computer support specialists to work full-time hours, but it is less common for them to work the typical 9-to-5 schedule. Some work internally and the company's employees, while others work in call centers to answer individual customer calls. Sometimes, your customers may become frustrated and take their anger out on you. If or when that happens, you have to prepare yourself to continue helping them calmly and patiently.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013