Many young people have asked me: how to become a computer support specialist? That’s why I wrote this article to answer that question and provide a detailed guide for those interested in this topic.
With over ten years of working as a computer support specialist, I am confident that my advice will be helpful to your career path.
So get out a pen and paper and write down the following steps!
A computer support specialist helps people and companies with their computer problems. Imagine your computer isn’t working, and you don’t know why. This specialist is the person you call to solve it.
There are two main types of these specialists:
- Help Desk Technicians talk to you on the phone or online to know what’s wrong. They try to fix simple problems this way.
- Technical Support Specialists handle bigger problems. They might come to where your computer is or fix it from afar.
Computer support specialists do lots of things. They fix software issues, for example, when a program isn’t running right. They also figure out why hardware, the physical parts of a computer, isn’t working.
Moreover, they help install new software and help your computer safe from bad people trying to hack into it. Sometimes, they work with other IT people to solve problems.
To be good at this job, you must know a lot about computers, systems, and protocols. Since technology changes a lot, you must keep learning new things.
In short, they help people and companies use technology without headaches. They fix problems, make sure everything is safe and running smoothly, and play a big part in how we all stay connected in today’s digital world.
The following six-step guide will help you to get this position. If you don’t know where to start, check out these helpful shares!
1. Have A Strong Education Foundation
The first step of this process is to have a solid learning foundation. This job only requires you to have a high school diploma or GED.
Some of my colleagues have gained expertise through associate’s degrees or by completing specific certifications.
Yet, having a bachelor’s degree or higher will help you make a better impression on employers, especially in this high-competitive context. It’ll give you an in-depth knowledge of:
- Computer systems
- Problem-solving techniques
If you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree, selecting the right major is a crucial step. When you look at resumes of fellow specialists, you’ll see some more prevalent majors, including:
- Computer science
- IT systems
These majors provide a solid base for learning technology and its practical uses. Remember, your education sets the groundwork for your career. After having the necessary knowledge, come with me to the next step: develop the needed skills.
2. Develop Your Skills
Developing a diverse skill set is crucial to becoming a proficient computer support specialist. Here’s how I’ve honed my abilities and how you can too:
- Computer-related skills: First, you need to understand how computers work, both the physical parts and the programs they use. Learn about things like Windows and Mac systems.
- Network-related skills: Computers often talk to each other through networks. So, learn about how networks are set up, how they work, and how to fix problems if they can’t connect.
- Coding skill: While it’s not a must, knowing a bit of coding, like Python or Java, can help. It’ll help you solve issues related to the computer’s language.
- Problem-solving skill: Being good at solving problems is super important. When things go wrong, you need to figure out what’s causing it. You can break down the big issue into smaller parts to find the real problem.
- Communication: You’ll often help people who don’t know much about computers. So, practice talking to them clearly and kindly, listening carefully to their problems, and explaining solutions in simple words.
- Be nice to people: Patience and kindness go a long way. Being understanding and helpful is vital when people are stressed about their computer acting up.
- Teamwork: Sometimes, problems are too big for one person. So learning to work well with others helps you solve issues together.
3. Gain Experience
Applying theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios will accelerate your learning. To gain practical experience, you can join short training courses or internship programs. Then, you can see how computers are used in actual jobs.
Also, internships and training let you meet and connect with others in the field. Moreover, they can help you improve your skills because you’ll practice solving problems and talking to people about tech stuff.
So, how to make the most of gaining practical experience? Here is my advice:
- Look for programs from good companies. These experiences should match what you want to learn. For example, I focused on internships that dealt with computer support.
- During your internship, be eager to learn. Ask questions and show that you want to do different tasks to learn more.
- If you’re working with experienced people, try to learn from them. They can give you lots of tips and tricks.
- Write down what you do and learn during your internship. I always did that because it helped me remember and show potential employers what I’ve done.
- Make a collection of what you’ve done during your training or internship. It can be a sort of “show and tell” when you look for jobs.
- Keep in touch with the people you meet during these experiences. They might help you find jobs or give you advice later on.
- Don’t be shy to ask how you’re doing. Feedback helps you get better at what you’re learning.
These experiences are like practice sessions for becoming a computer support specialist. They let you see how tech works in real life, meet people, and improve your skills.
4. Gain Additional Certifications
Imagine you’re in a big crowd, so how do you get noticed? Certifications! They make your resume shine and show you’re extra qualified.
Certifications are like badges proving you’re really good at what you do. When employers see them on your resume, they know you’re serious and skilled.
Besides, they ensure you’re up-to-date with the latest tech trends and help you fix new problems and stay relevant.
Here are some additional certifications of my recommendation:
- CompTIA A+: It covers foundational IT skills and is highly regarded in the industry. It validates your ability to troubleshoot, maintain, and set up computer systems and networks.
- CompTIA Network+: It focuses on networking knowledge, demonstrating your expertise in configuring, managing, and troubleshooting networks.
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): It certifies your knowledge of network fundamentals, routing, and switching.
- Certified Network Computer Technician (CNCT): It focuses on network installation, configuration, maintenance, and troubleshooting. I recommend it if you’re interested in working with computer networks.
5. Research Job Duties
Researching job duties gives you a clear picture of your daily tasks. It helps you know if the role aligns with your interests and skills. Then, you can prepare yourself better. So how to do this?
My first advice is to look at job ads for this job. They usually list what you’ll be doing. Websites like LinkedIn or Indeed have lots of these ads.
Also, check the websites where you want to work. They might have a section about jobs, and you can see what the role involves.
Besides, you can find people already doing this job and ask them what they do daily and what skills they use. Don’t forget to join groups on the internet where tech people chat. You can ask questions and get answers from them.
My bonus tip: don’t just find out about the job tasks. Instead, learn about how the company works and if it fits you.
6. Prepare Your Resume
Why do you need to prepare a resume? Your resume is often the first thing potential employers see. It’s like your introduction to them. So a well-prepared resume makes a positive impression.
Besides, your resume lets you highlight your skills and experiences. It’s a way to show you’re a good fit for the job. A well-organized resume makes you stand out among other candidates. It’s like saying, “Look, I’m the right person for this role!”
Here are my tips for a good resume:
- Choose a simple format: You can find templates online that make it easy to organize your information. Also, use simple language and short bullet points. Employers don’t have a lot of time to read long paragraphs.
- Contact information: Put your name, phone number, email, and maybe your LinkedIn profile at the top. This tip makes it easy for employers to reach you.
- Write a summary: Include a short paragraph about yourself. Mention your skills and why you’re excited about getting this job.
- Highlight skills: Make a section where you list your technical skills, like troubleshooting, OSs, and programming languages you know.
- Work experience: List your past jobs and internships related to tech or customer service. Mention your responsibilities and achievements. If you’ve done any tech projects, describe them briefly.
- Education: Add your educational background, starting with the most recent. Include the name of the school, degree, and graduation date.
- Certifications: If you have CompTIA A+ or CompTIA Network+ certifications, put them in a separate section.
Remember, your resume is like your tech portfolio. It tells employers who you are and what you can do. Thus, be very careful in this step.
7. Apply For The Job
Now, it’s time to apply for this job. Remember to read the job description carefully to understand what the company is looking for before applying. Then, tailor your resume to highlight the skills and experiences that match your needs.
Before hitting “send,” double-check everything to ensure your application is error-free. If you are suitable for the position, the employer will contact you to schedule an interview. At this point, prepare for your interview to get this job!
My daily routine involves a blend of technical troubleshooting, user interaction, system maintenance, and collaboration with colleagues. My goal is to ensure that technology functions smoothly. Here are some of my daily tasks:
- Checking the network (LAN/WLAN): I make sure everyone’s connected to the internet properly.
- Providing support: I interact with customers daily, offering help with computer issues. These issues can include anything related to the computer, from software to hardware.
- Setting up new computers: When new computers come, I install everything they need, like the system, programs, and how they connect to the network.
- Fixing security holes: I help fix problems that make computers unsafe.
Regarding the job outlook for this position, the number of these jobs is expected to grow by around 6% from 2021 – 2031. Each year, there are about 75,000 new job openings.
These new job openings are because some workers change jobs or retire, so their positions need to be filled. As a result, there are many opportunities for people to join this field.
The average yearly salary in 2023 for a computer support specialist is $64,180 per year in the US. Those having a lot of experience and work in developed-economic areas can receive a salary of up to $99,920 per year.
Being a computer support specialist, my work usually keeps me busy full-time. My typical day involves working in a well-equipped office space surrounded by computer hardware, diagnostic tools, and reference materials.
Besides, I frequently interact with colleagues and clients, whether it’s in person, over the phone, or through digital channels. Being patient and approachable is essential, as some clients might be frustrated or unfamiliar with technical jargon.
The job can sometimes be high-pressure, especially during system failures or network outages that require rapid resolution.
Since computer support is needed around the clock, I sometimes have shifts that include nights or weekends. This requirement is because people might need help with their tech issues anytime.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Being a computer support specialist has its ups and downs. But at the end of the day, I still love this job.
On the positive side, I can solve tech puzzles daily, which I find really satisfying. Helping people with computer problems feels great. And the pay is decent too.
Yet, there are challenges. Some issues can be tough to crack, and dealing with frustrated users can be overwhelming. The schedule can also be unpredictable, with nights and weekends sometimes in the mix.
Embarking on becoming a computer support specialist requires a blend of education, skills development, and practical experience.
Getting the right education, like a degree or certification, is where it starts. Then, developing skills and doing internships will give you practice.
Don’t forget to get more certificates to make you more trustworthy. When applying for jobs, remember to research and make your resume fit.
Even though there might be challenges, I believe you can do it!