Are you currently in an application support analyst role and wondering what your future career options are? That’s where I started my career. Find out what the application support analyst career path is in this article.
Let’s Look at What You Currently Do
A good way to start thinking about where you’d like to move to is to analyze what you currently do as part of your job. As an application support analyst, your role will likely include some of:
- Reading issue descriptions and determining root causes
- Analyzing code, log files and using other methods to work out a resolution
- Speaking to users to gather more information
- Provide updates to end users and managers
- Developing new code to fix issues
- Running tests on code that you have written
- Receiving and prioritizing work
This is a wide range of duties, which is great as it gives you the experience you need to move into different roles. Getting experience in application support will mean you have more experience in these areas, which can help if you want to specialize in one of them.
The Application Support Analyst Career Path is Quite Open
You can see from the duties above that the current role is quite varied. This means the future path can be varied, as it’s often based on the experience that you get.
These duties cover business analysis, development, testing, application support, each of which you can choose to specialize in.
This is different from roles such as a Junior Web Developer. The career advancement for those roles is more limited, as you either become more senior or try to gather experience in another area. With application support, it’s easier to get experience in these areas.
Move from Application Support into Software Development
One of the most common routes for application support analysts to take with their career is to move into software development. Software development is often seen as the more enjoyable career option. This comes down to your own opinion, of course, but many young people want to move into IT to get into software development rather than support.
If you’re one of those people and you do want to move into software development, then it’s quite possible with this role. This is the path that I took after my support role. As I was doing support and development work, the particular business area allowed me to spend some time on “project” work, which meant if a project needed some enhancements done to a system, I was able to perform them.
There might be similar opportunities where you are. Moving from support to development is popular, and if you build up your experience in software development areas such as best practices, processes, and efficient coding, it will make it easier to transition.
Move from Application Support into Software Testing
As part of resolving issues in your support role, you should be doing some kind of testing. This is to make sure that the work you’re doing actually resolves the issue.
There is a lot of satisfaction that comes from ensuring that a suite of tests is run successfully and a piece of code is fully functional, especially when there is so much low quality software available.
If you’ve gotten enough experience in software testing as part of your application support role, you might be able to move into software testing. If not, if you don’t feel like you have enough experience, don’t worry. You can still make a transition into that kind of role, if you know the process, and even how the business operates. Knowing these things and having the ability to learn is a good way to move into a software testing role.
Move from Application Support into Business Analysis
Another move on the application support analyst career path is moving into a business analyst role. This can be harder than others, depending on your company and your skills, as it’s crossing the line between technical and business. A technical role (development, support, testing) usually needs to learn quite a few additional skills to move into a business role (business analyst, project manager).
That isn’t to say it’s not possible, it just might be a bit harder. It’s a good role, but it can be hard to move from support into BA. You’ll need to improve your communication skills, documentation, organization, and knowledge of how projects work in your organization.
You could ask your manager to move into a junior business analyst role, or even just to “shadow” other BAs in your area (help them out, work with them for a while, go to some of their meetings). This might be a way to get you the experience you need for this role.
Move from Application Support into Support Team Leadership
If you’d like to stay in the application support area, you’ll get a lot of experience as time goes on. You’ll learn about different areas of the business, get intimate knowledge of the support process and how your applications work.
These are all great things to know prior to moving into a team leader role. Team leaders are the ones responsible for the support team. They are your manager when you’re in the support role.
Learning how to be a team leader for a support team is challenging, but rewarding. It is also true for all kinds of software team leader roles, not just support.
This change might take a little longer, and you might have more competition (more people competing for less roles), but you get more responsibility and get a chance to impact the business in a larger way.
Similar to moving into a business analyst role, moving into a support team leader role will involve developing your soft skills (communication, delegation, prioritization, documenting, organization), and will also likely involve longer hours. If it’s something you want to do, it’s quite possible from the application support analyst role.
Move into Application Support for a Different Area
Staying with an application support role is also a valid and useful approach to your career. You get to enhance your skills in the systems you work on, as well as develop your all-round skills you currently use.
An option for support analysts is to stay in support, but move to a different area or company. This would mean you get experience working on different applications, whether it is a collection of smaller applications or a single larger application. You could get to work on high priority systems (such as banks or air traffic control systems), or large customer-facing websites, or anything you can get a role in. It allows you to have an impact on systems and to feel excited about your role in keeping the system operational.
Getting into a new role with a different team or company can re-ignite any sparks in the role that you may have lost. It also allows you to get some experience in how other teams go about their jobs.