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How to Become a Desktop Support Technician

If you have a passion for helping others and are looking to enter the IT industry, then a position as desktop support technician could be a valuable career path for you. Desktop support acts as the backbone of the IT department by helping a company oversee and manage its computer systems. It is important for desktop support technicians to be comfortable guiding others through various operating systems, such as Windows and MAC OS.

Sample job description

Desktop support technicians are responsible for providing technical assistance to employees within a company. This involves providing training materials referring to computer usage and troubleshooting, resolving any software and hardware problems, and offering step-by-step guidance to help a struggling employee navigate a computer’s operating system. This job opportunity involves a large range of tasks and responsibilities. Desktop support technicians will need to stay updated on system requirements to avoid any network interruptions during the workday. If you perform well in your duties, you may be promoted to higher IT positions, such as network or system administrator.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Walk customers through installing applications and computer peripherals
  • Conduct remote and in-person troubleshooting
  • Customize desktop applications to meet user needs
  • Evaluate new applications and software patches
  • Record technical issues and solutions in logs

Education and experience

  • An associate degree in Information Technology or a relevant field is required for this position.
  • Certifications like COMPTIA A+ Certification and Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) are strongly preferred.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Hands-on experience with Windows/Linux/Mac OS environments
  • Ability to perform remote (and face-to-face) troubleshooting and provide clear instructions
  • Expertise in customer service
  • Excellent problem-solving and multitasking skills

Typical work environment

Desktop support specialists typically work in an office environment, but many also work from a home office. They will normally work 40 hours a week, but hours may vary. They may be required to work various shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for a Desktop Support are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Available certifications

A variety of certifications are available for Desktop Support Technicians to elevate their careers and improve their job skills. Here are some of the top certifications for Desktop Support Technicians and Specialists: 

  • CompTIA A+ Certification. The CompTIA A+ certification is designed for beginners and prepares candidates to install, configure, and maintain personal computers, mobile devices, printers, and laptops. They learn basic networking, PC troubleshooting skills, and various operating systems.  The CompTIA A+ program includes two exams that cover a wide range of topics from baseline security skills to troubleshooting and problem solving to configuring device operating systems for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, and others. The CompTIA A+ prepares you to work in a variety of IT positions. 
  • Google IT Support Professional Certificate. The Google IT Support Professional Certificate proves your ability and skills in wireless networking, computer assembly, program installation, and customer service and puts you on your way to landing a top-notch IT entry-level job. The program includes 5 courses, video lectures, quizzes, and hands-on labs and takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete by dedicating at least 5 hours a week to it.

Career path

Desktop Support Technician positions are often the entry-level step for people beginning a career in the IT field. Working in desktop support is a great way to gain knowledge of various hardware and software platforms, as well as develop problem-solving and communication skills. Patience, resourcefulness, and a desire to help others are considered valuable soft skills for candidates applying for Desktop Support Technician positions.

A bachelor’s degree is not often required to become a Desktop Support Technician. However, people who want to pursue a four-year degree are encouraged to study disciplines like computer information systems (CIS), help desk administration, technical support, and network administration. Some candidates can be hired as a Desktop Support Technician with just a specialized certificate in PC repair or IT/help desk support, instead of a formal degree.

Candidates with industry certifications in IT infrastructure like CompTIA Server+ or specific operating systems like Oracle are often considered attractive for Desktop Support Technician positions.Working as a Desktop Support Technician is considered a great jumping-off point for a career in IT. Many Desktop Support Technicians go on to positions as Database Administrators, IT Security Specialists, or Network Administrators. Other Desktop Support Technicians remain in the support aspect of the IT field and become Help Desk Technician Managers.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1232

2020 Employment654,800
Projected Employment in 2030712,800
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 9% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift58,000 increase

Nearly every organization has technology needs. Whether a company has an in-house IT department with its own support staff or relies on support from its IT equipment and software vendors, the need for Desktop Support Technicians will exist for years to come. However, some industry analysts see an increase in the use of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) to take care of simple support needs.However, according to the trade publication CIO, the transition to the use of some automated help desk applications doesn’t mean that the need for human Desktop Support Technicians will go away. Instead, it could merely divert humans to doing the things humans are uniquely good at, like troubleshooting complex issues and providing exceptional customer service to users and clients.

While expertise in technical issues will always be essential for a Desktop Support Technician, soft skills like communication, patience, and the desire to help people are also of value to companies when they look to hire for this position. Many industry observers see the technical support field drastically shifting to a more customer-focused model in the years to come.