What is an IT support technician?
An information technology (IT) support technician provides technical assistance to computer users within an organization. These professionals aid employees experiencing various technical issues, such as problems with software, hardware, and network connectivity. With in-depth IT knowledge, the technician optimizes daily operations in the company by troubleshooting, diagnosing, and resolving these technical difficulties. Additionally, they play a critical role in safeguarding the organization’s digital infrastructure against potential risks.
Duties and responsibilities
IT support technicians are responsible for implementing and maintaining a company’s computing needs. They provide user support by troubleshooting and resolving hardware, software, and networking issues. They also monitor and maintain the organization’s digital systems, including operating systems and software applications. These professionals install and update software, perform routine maintenance, and organize and schedule upgrades. Additionally, they may conduct periodic checks and tests on the IT infrastructure to uphold the organization’s cybersecurity policy.
IT support technicians often work in an office environment. They typically have their own workspace where they can perform tasks such as troubleshooting software issues and setting up hardware. However, they can also often be found in other areas of the office, assisting employees with their technical needs. Their role may also require working in server rooms or similar spaces. This job can sometimes be stressful, especially when there is an immediate and critical need to resolve a technical issue.
Typical work hours
Most IT support technicians are full-time employees who work 40 hours per week during regular business hours. However, due to the critical nature of their job and the need for continuous IT services in many organizations, they may be required to be available on-call to deal with emergencies that can occur outside regular business hours. Early morning, evening, overnight, or weekend shifts may be required, especially in 24/7 operations such as hospitals or large corporations.
How to become an IT support technician
This career guide section outlines the process of becoming an IT support technician. Steps include obtaining the right educational background, earning certifications, and gaining relevant experience.
Step 1: Complete high school
Your journey begins with completing your high school education or obtaining an equivalent diploma. This foundational education lays the groundwork for further learning and introduces you to basic computer skills and technology-related topics.
Step 2: Get a degree in computer science or a related field
Pursue a degree or diploma in information technology, computer science, or a related field. The curriculum in these courses introduces you to various aspects of computer operation, networks, and system administration.
Step 3: Gain experience through internships
Apply for internships or part-time jobs that allow you to gain practical IT experience – hands-on experience will improve your technical skills and help you understand how to apply your knowledge in a real-world setting. This step also helps establish professional contacts and could lead to a full-time role in the future.
Step 4: Obtain relevant certifications
To increase your marketability, consider earning industry-recognized certifications like CompTIA A+, Network+, or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). These certifications demonstrate your abilities and show employers that you have the knowledge and commitment to excel in an IT support role.
Step 5: Kickstart your professional career
Start applying for IT support technician roles. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job posting, highlighting your relevant skillset, certifications, and experience. Remember to leverage your professional contacts and keep practicing your interviewing skills. Persistence is key; with time, the right opportunity will come along.
How much do IT support technicians make?
IT support technician salaries vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Compensation may also be influenced by the complexity of the technological infrastructure they manage, their degree of expertise in specific software or systems, and their certification levels.
Highest paying industries
- Software Publishers – $69,480
- Information Services – $68,350
- Computer Systems Design Services – $67,860
- Data Processing Services – $65,720
- Management of Companies and Enterprises – $64,710
Highest paying states
- California – $63,400
- Massachusetts – $61,350
- New York – $59,730
- New Jersey – $57,860
- Washington – $56,540
Types of IT support technicians
Below, we explore common types and areas of specialization for IT support technicians. This section will provide a snapshot of potential career avenues within this profession.
Desktop support technician
Desktop support technicians assist employees within an organization by tackling technical issues related to computers, resolving software and hardware problems, and ensuring that all devices and applications run efficiently. These professionals may also assist in setting up new user accounts or troubleshooting network connectivity issues.
Help desk technician
Help desk technicians are typically the first line of defense when IT issues arise. They handle inquiries from users experiencing software applications, computer hardware, or networking systems issues. These professionals also perform remote troubleshooting and guide users through step-by-step solutions, often via phone, chat, or email. They are adept at problem-solving and have great customer service skills.
Network support technician
Network support technicians specialize in network setup, organization, and maintenance, making sure a network’s hardware and software components are working as planned, including routers, switches, and network servers. They also troubleshoot network issues and implement preventative measures to reduce future network problems.
IT support analyst
An IT support analyst uses their comprehensive knowledge of computer systems to help users solve technical problems. They collect data to determine user needs, evaluate system performance levels, and help businesses understand how to use their IT activities for their benefit. The role also requires creating and implementing IT strategies to improve the company’s overall efficiency and productivity.
Hardware support specialist
As the term suggests, hardware support specialists focus on physical computer components and peripherals. They diagnose and resolve hardware issues, perform regular updates, and install new hardware as necessary, which includes anything from internal circuits and power supplies to external monitors and printers. They possess a strong understanding of how different hardware components connect and work together.
Top skills for IT support technicians
This career guide section outlines the skills and abilities that will help you find success as an IT support technician – a profession requiring a wide range of expertise, adaptability, and a deep knowledge base.
Technical problem-solving skills
As you might imagine, the ability to solve problems is paramount in this role. Duties include diagnosing and fixing hardware issues, troubleshooting network problems, and addressing software malfunctions. Naturally, this requires a solid understanding of a range of technologies and the ability to apply this knowledge quickly and effectively.
Excellent communication skills
Excellent communication skills are essential for an IT support tech. It’s your job to explain complex technical issues in simple, understandable language to non-tech-savvy users. Having a knack for patience, empathy, and clear verbal and written communication can make the difference between a frustrated user and a problem resolved successfully.
Customer service skills
Aiming to provide excellent service, you’ll often grasp the importance of a user-centric approach. The ability to remain patient, empathetic, and solution-oriented even in stressful situations is key to maintaining user satisfaction and trust in the tech department.
Knowledge of operating systems and software
Understanding the nuances of different operating systems, applications, and software is integral to the role, which includes anything from Microsoft Windows and MacOS to various content management systems, database software, or specialized applications relevant to the particular industry.
Teamwork and collaboration skills
Often, you’ll be part of a larger team, with everyone working together to ensure the smooth running of the organization’s technology infrastructure. Being able to collaborate effectively with colleagues, handle constructive criticism, and contribute ideas is an important aspect of working in support.
Being capable of analytical thinking is fundamental in identifying, isolating, and resolving technical issues. Analyzing problems often involves reviewing hardware or software performance data, understanding error reports, or troubleshooting network connectivity issues.
Given the fast-paced nature of technology, continuous learning is critical. Staying up-to-date on industry developments, new software, hardware advancements, and security threats is a routine part of the job, often involving self-directed learning and research.
IT support technician career path options
As an IT support technician, there are numerous opportunities for advancing your career. Progressing in this field usually depends on accumulated experience and continuous learning due to the rapidly changing technological environment. After working in a support role, your deepened understanding of the systems and networks can lead to specialized job roles.
With additional skills and practice, you could become a networking specialist, a role that requires a deep understanding of network infrastructures and security protocols. It involves setup, maintenance, and troubleshooting of networks in different organizations.
Becoming a systems administrator is another potential career progression. In this position, you’d be responsible for managing an organization’s systems, ensuring they run efficiently. The role requires detailed knowledge of server setup, maintenance, and upgrades.
IT manager is a position you could aspire to with enough experience. This role oversees all tech-related aspects of a business, from network and system management to IT project leadership and strategic planning. IT managers often need a blend of technical know-how and leadership skills.
A cybersecurity analyst position could be a fitting move if you’re interested in security. It requires finding potential weaknesses in systems and initiating preventive measures. As an analyst, you would also be responsible for responding to and managing security breaches. This job demands a solid understanding of encryption tools and malware detection strategies, among other things.
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Position trends and outlook for IT support technicians
With rapid technological advancements, trends in this profession have been evolving. The demand for talent is increasing due to the digitalization of numerous industries. Unlike in the past when most jobs were office-based, more and more organizations are now looking to hire staff who can work remotely – fueled by tools that allow support teams to troubleshoot and resolve issues from any location.
As businesses lean toward remote operations, the expectation is that these professionals should be conversant with a wide range of digital collaboration tools. Consequently, it’s about more than knowing how to solve hardware and software issues – current industry standards require skills in programs such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, which are commonly used in remote working environments. There’s also an uptick in demand in the security field, primarily driven by the rising number of cyber threats facing businesses. The industry, therefore, needs support technicians who have a deep understanding of how to safeguard systems against these possible threats.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for IT support technicians is predicted to grow 6 percent through 2031, which is close to the average for all jobs. These figures only account for new job growth and don’t include job openings resulting from workers who retire or leave the profession for other reasons.
IT support technician career tips
Keep up with technology advancements
In the ever-evolving world of technology, staying updated on the latest innovations and developments is important. This is especially true for IT support technicians whose daily tasks revolve around technology. Read technology-related blogs, books, and magazines. Attend webinars, workshops, and tech fairs. This way, you’ll learn about new software and hardware and develop the skills necessary to handle them. Staying informed will make you a better technician and improve your problem-solving skills when facing unique challenges.
Obtain relevant certifications
Attaining certifications in relevant IT areas can significantly boost your career. These certifications validate your skills and show employers you’re competent and dedicated. Some recommended certifications for support technicians are CompTIA A+, Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals, Cisco Certified Technician, and ITIL Foundation.
Work on customer service skills
While technical skills are imperative, strong customer service skills are just as important. Technicians are often the first point of contact for individuals experiencing technical difficulties. Learning how to communicate with them in a clear, patient, and friendly way can make a considerable difference in the user experience.
Collaborate with your team
Working in a team is part of the job. Learn to collaborate effectively with colleagues. Sharing knowledge and problem-solving techniques can foster a healthy work environment and increase productivity.
Build a professional network
Networking can bring numerous benefits to your career. Below are some professional associations and networks that you could consider joining:
- CompTIA Association of IT Professionals
- Technology Services Industry Association
- Association of Information Technology Professionals
- Help Desk Institute
Invest in continuous learning
Continuously updating and expanding your skillset can pave your way toward a successful career. It’s often beneficial to gain deeper knowledge in the following areas:
- Cloud computing paradigms like SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS
- The workings of different operating systems like Windows, MacOS, and Linux
- Network structures and security methodologies
- Latest cybersecurity threats and countermeasures
Where the IT support technician jobs are
- New York
Top job sites
- Careers in Tech
What educational qualifications do IT support technicians usually have?
Most IT support technicians have an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. However, some technicians might also have relevant certifications such as CompTIA A+, Cisco, or Microsoft certifications.
What skills do IT support technicians need?
An aptitude for problem-solving, good communication skills, and patience are universally valued. Technically, a strong understanding of computer systems, networks, and operating systems is crucial. Familiarity with programming languages can also be beneficial.
What are common challenges for IT support technicians?
One common challenge is staying current with the continuous updates in technology and software platforms. Other challenges include dealing with difficult customers, troubleshooting complex problems, and managing multiple issues simultaneously.
What is a typical day like for an IT support technician?
A typical day might include responding to IT requests, diagnosing and solving hardware or software faults, setting up user accounts, and maintaining internal databases. They also often prepare reports and documentation. The workload varies, and no two days are exactly alike.
Are there any specific tools or technology IT support technicians need to be familiar with?
Technicians should have a fundamental understanding of hardware and software systems, network configurations, and various operating systems. Familiarity with helpdesk software and remote-control technologies can be useful. Specific tools and technologies may vary based on the employer.
What personality traits are well-suited for IT support technicians?
Patience, good communication skills, and a passion for technology are important traits for a successful IT support technician. In addition, being a good problem solver, having attention to detail, and the ability to multitask can benefit individuals in this role.
Is being an IT support technician typically a team-oriented or individual role?
The nature of the work can vary. Some tasks can be performed individually, while resolving more complex issues often requires collaboration with other IT professionals. As such, both independence and teamwork are vital elements of the role.
What opportunities for professional development or advancement are there for IT support technicians?
Technicians can advance their careers by obtaining further certifications or specializing in a specific area of IT, leading to positions such as IT manager, network architect, information security analyst, or other specialized roles. It’s also possible to move into project management or consulting roles.
Can IT support technicians work remotely?
Many IT support tasks can be performed remotely, though this depends on the company’s policy and the job requirements. Some issues require hardware repair, which necessitates direct, on-site intervention. However, with the rise of remote work, more companies are utilizing remote IT support.
What is the demand for IT support technicians?
Demand for IT support technicians has increased as businesses increasingly rely on technology. From maintaining systems and troubleshooting issues to supporting users, organizations of all sizes need these professionals to keep their operations running smoothly.