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Computer Support Specialist Career

Career Description

A Computer Support Specialist provides technical assistance,  support, and advice to customers and other users. These troubleshooters interpret problems and provide technical support for hardware, software, and systems. They answer telephone calls, analyze problems by using automated diagnostic programs, and resolve recurring difficulties.

Common Work Tasks

  • Respond to inquiries from the organizations’  computer users and run automatic diagnostics programs to resolve problems
  • Install, modify, clean, and repair computer hardware and software
  • Write training manuals and train computer users in how to use new computer hardware and software
  • Oversee the daily performance of the company’s computer systems and evaluate how useful software programs are
  • Respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages from customers looking for help with computer problems
  • Plan, coordinate, and implement the organization’s information security
  • Document computer security and emergency measures policies, procedures, and tests
  • Maintain network hardware and software, direct network security measures, and monitor networks to ensure availability to system users
  • Educate users about computer security, install security software, monitor networks for security breaches, respond to cyber attacks, and, in some cases, gather data and evidence to be used in prosecuting cyber crime

Other Job Titles

Computer Support Specialists are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Computer Security Specialists
  • Computer Systems Administrators
  • Network Administrators
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Systems Programmers
  • Applications Programmers

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
Due to the wide range of skills required, there are many paths of entry to a job as a computer support specialist or systems administrator.  Training requirements for computer support specialist positions vary, but many employers prefer to hire applicants with some formal college education. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems is a prerequisite for some jobs; other jobs, however, may require only a computer-related associate degree. And for some jobs, relevant computer experience and certifications may substitute for formal education.

Experience
  People interested in becoming a computer support specialist must have strong problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills because troubleshooting and helping others are vital parts of the job. The constant interaction with other computer personnel, customers, and employees requires computer support specialists to communicate effectively on paper, via e-mail, over the phone, or in person. Strong writing skills are useful in preparing manuals for employees and customers.

Salary

The median annual salary for a Computer Support Specialist is $42,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $69,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $25,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of computer support specialists are:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services - $46,320
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools - $41,520
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises - $47,510
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $42,610
  • Software Publishers - $49,620

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  13%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 71,000
  • Employment 2006 : 552,000
  • Employment 2016:  624,000

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