How to Choose the Right IT Career for You: IT Support Specialist
Updated: Apr 19
IT Support Specialist is an area in IT where your responsibilities will differ but will primarily focus on providing technical support in resolving customer-related issues regarding hardware, software and/or network. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Support Specialist is predicted to grow by 6% through 2031.
What You Should Know to Get Started
What is IT Support?
IT Support is an area in technology in which technicians provide end-user support and training to an organization's internal and external users. They may route helpdesk tickets, diagnose, troubleshoot and problem solve any technical issues resulting from hardware malfunctions on physical devices such as laptops, desktops and scanners; software installations and upgrades to configuring devices for network access.
Is a career in IT Support worth it?
Yes absolutely! It is a great way for aspiring technology professionals to get a thorough understanding of how an organization's technology is configured and work alongside multiple technical teams. It can be great when learning resiliency, patience and how to effectively problem solve. In order to be successful in IT, it is very important to understand the basics and this role is a great one to do absolutely that.
What do I need to get started to learn about this career path?
You can learn anything you'll need and gain the real-world experience at your fingertips with the help of courses on Udemy, Coursera, university courses, bootcamps, LinkedIn, YouTube specifically, KevTech IT Support and many others.
Here is some foundational knowledge on what I believe can help you choose the right IT career specifically as an IT Support Specialist.
Levels of IT Support
Tier 1 - answers and responds to some of the most commonly related customer issues either by ticketing system, chat or phone such as resetting and unlocking user's accounts and verifying users access to hardware and software. At this level, you typically have the basic knowledge of IT but in many cases, you can start from scratch.
Tier 2 - Conducts a more in-depth analysis of issues that couldn't be resolved with Tier 1 by reviewing the steps that were taken with Tier 1 and determining a plan of action with the customer either in-person or via remote capabilities such as logmein123.
Tier 3 - Subject Matter Experts who provide a more high-level analysis on issues that couldn't be resolved with the previous tiers. These issues may be more related to the specific product, configuration and/or affecting multiple users throughout the organization.
Certifications to consider:
IT Fundamentals (ITF+) - provides you with the basic knowledge covering all areas of IT to help you get a broader understanding. Great for individuals who are non-technical.
A+ - provides you the foundational knowledge of computing and security.
Security + - validates your knowledge of security and its components.
Network + - validates your knowledge of networking and its components.
Job Titles to Search for:
IT Helpdesk Technician
IT Support Technician
Desktop Support Specialist
Network Support Specialist
Technical Support Engineer
Tier 1, 2, 3 Support
Things to know to help build up your knowledge, skills and abilities:
Communication - you will be assisting customers and collaborating at all levels. How do I respond when I don't know the answer? What other areas in IT that are in my organization? Who do I go to for this specific issue?
Troubleshooting - what is a network? How do I know if the issue is the network? Is it a bad network interface card (NIC)? What are the reasons a computer is not turning on? Is it the power supply? bad power cord? no power within the outlet? How come a user can't access their shared drive? How to do give a user permission? What is Active Directory?
Operating Systems - what operating system is being used? Where do I go to look at the version? How do I find the control panel? Where do I go to determine what is my boot sequence? What function key get me to the BIOS?
Hardware/Software Deployment - How do I configure a printer, desktop or laptop? How to I set up a brand-new system? Where do I go to deploy software applications? What is a license key?
Network Configuration - How do I configure my hardware for network access? How do I join my system to the domain? How do I connect to VPN?
Malware - How do I know if a user's system been affected by a virus? How do I save the users data? What software does my organization use to scan vulnerabilities?
System Components - What is a motherboard? What is the CPU? What is RAM? What is a video graphics card? Cooling fan? Hard drive? Monitor? How does all of these work within the system?
There are so many intricacies when working within an IT Support role that your responsibilities will vary based on the functionality and business objectives of your organization. While working in this role, you could also be responsible for disseminating and monitoring software licenses, coordinating with vendors on hardware replacements and being a part of technical project teams. The opportunities and exposure can be endless and it's a great way to help you carve out the specific path you'd like your career to go. I've worked with individuals who started off in IT Support and ventured off to more specific IT niches such as Networking, Cybersecurity, Project Management and Technical Training. Becoming an IT Support Specialist is a great foundational path to take, if this is the path for you make sure to always stay up to date on the latest IT trends, never stop learning as technology steadily evolves and network.