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Career Path: How to become a Desktop Support Technician

A career in IT/Desktop support offers a lot of opportunity and benefits. It gives you an easier window into almost any tech industry. It also provides a good medium for improving your technical skills. If you love computers, network systems and working with people, IT support may be a great way to launch your career.

To become a desktop support technician, you’ll need to have good knowledge of computer hardware, operating systems and applications. If you’re new to the field, you can get a quick head start by reading books or enrolling for online foundation...more

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Career Path: How to become a Desktop Support Technician

A career in IT/Desktop support offers a lot of opportunity and benefits. It gives you an easier window into almost any tech industry. It also provides a good medium for improving your technical skills. If you love computers, network systems and working with people, IT support may be a great way to launch your career.

To become a desktop support technician, you’ll need to have good knowledge of computer hardware, operating systems and applications. If you’re new to the field, you can get a quick head start by reading books or enrolling for online foundation courses with sites like Coursera, Udemy or Lynda. Some desktop support positions also require that candidates have some experience with network connectivity as well as soft skills like:

  • Good customer-friendly attitude
  • Strong communication skills
  • A process-oriented or analytical approach to solving problems
  • A passion for the job and willingness to learn

Education and Experience

Most companies do not require a college degree for entry-level desktop positions. If you’re experienced and have the right skills, you stand a good chance of getting hired. That said, having a degree significantly improves your qualifications and puts you ahead of the pack. A degree is even more important if you intend to expand your career into mid-level or senior-level positions. Good fields to earn a degree in include computer science, software development or any IT related field.

Working as a Junior Level IT Support Technician

The duties of a desktop support technician vary with the size and needs of the company, but they typically include installing and configuring operating systems, monitoring computer systems and performing system upgrades. You may be tasked with solving software issues, replacing hardware and maintaining computer systems. Other possible duties include:

  • Setting up new accounts
  • Resolving password issues
  • Testing and evaluating new technology
  • Conducting safety checks on hardware

Desktop support professionals typically work in full-time positions, sometimes in shifts. They interact with clients and often have to work quickly, especially when resolving technical issues during the day (so productivity in the office can return to normal). Desktop support technicians working with larger companies may be required to travel between offices or to work late night or over the weekend. As your skill improves, your title may change to support specialist or maintenance engineer. The duties of higher level positions may include providing procedural documentation, managing teams and working with other professionals such as network engineers or software developers.

Advance Your Career: How to become a Senior Desktop Support Professional

Three main factors will affect your rise in any tech company: your qualification, educational experience and technical expertise. To qualify for a senior level position, you’ll need to demonstrate a strong technical background in several areas, including networking and administration.

Try Working for Different Companies

As a rule, it is not advisable to switch between multiple companies within a short period. But if you find yourself stuck in the same position after three of four years year at the same company with limited options for growth, it may be time to consider moving to a different company that offers more upward mobility.

Get a Degree

If you don’t already have one, then getting a Bachelor’s degree will significantly improve your chance of moving to a senior role. If you already have a degree, you could pursue a higher-level degree in related areas like networking or software development to help improve your growth.

Pursue Certifications

Certifications are a good way to improve your career options. They add some legitimacy to your skills and give you an edge over the competition. Certifications are also a good way to change the course of your career towards specific fields. Some of the popular certifications worth considering include

  • CompTIA A+ Technician: Entry-level certification that covers the maintenance of computers, operating systems, printers and mobile devices.
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): An entry-level certification that puts ou on the path to earning Cisco’s professional-level CCNP certification. It covers core network subjects like switching, routing and security.
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE): A mid-level certification that offers areas of specialization in data platform, desktop infrastructure, server infrastructure and business intelligence.
  • CompTIA Network+: Entry level certification that demonstrates competency in installing, troubleshooting, configuring and managing basic computer networks.

Decide on a Career Path

A common mistake that desktop support professions make is staying at the same position for too long before deciding in what direction they would like to explore. Find out where your interests lie and then take on projects that help build your experience. For instance, if you’re interested in becoming a database administrator, start taking classes on SQl to lay the framework for your transition. Most employers prefer to hire professionals who display a willingness to learn new things and evolve. If you spend too long in the same position without learning anything new, employers may pass over your promotion for other candidates.

Desktop Support Job Description

We’ve done the research for you. After evaluating numerous job descriptions, we’ve written our own representative job description for a mid-level desktop support professional with between 2 and 5 years of relevant experience.

As a desktop support professional, you’ll work with computer hardware and software across a range of technologies. You’ll assist with the management of technology equipment as well as conduct diagnostic tests to identify faults. We welcome diversity and encourage healthy debate and discussion. Our employees are versatile and self-motivated, can work in a self-directed manner or in a collaborative setting as needed, and display leadership qualities.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Maintaining and installing networks, telephone systems, computers and peripherals
  • Repair or replace faulty equipment in a computer system
  • Serving as a liaison between clients and the IT unit
  • Conducting routine upgrade and maintenance
  • Maintaining client databases
  • Designing and maintaining web application
  • Conducting assessments to determine the need for software reconfigurations
  • Explaining technical issues to co-worker or clients
  • Migrating servers across different platforms
  • Identifying potential areas for improvement
  • Creating and distributing progress report for senior management
  • Quickly addressing faults or technical issues to minimize downtime

We Look For

  • 2+ years’ experience managing computer systems
  • Experience working with tools like printers, storage devices, smartboards, hard drives and more
  • Solid technical skills and an understanding of computer troubleshooting
  • Knowledge of Mac OS X and Windows, including Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10
  • Exemplary communication skills; able to map problem-solution space and explain possible solutions to non-technical team members
  • Excellent customer service
  • A willingness to educational programs, workshops, and seminar and an interest in staying updated with the tech advancements
  • B.S. degree in computer science or equivalent experience

These Would Also Be Nice

  • Certifications from CompTIA, Cisco, Oracle or Microsoft
  • Experience designing and configuring networks
  • Experience with analytics tools like Google Analytics
  • Experience with optimizing pages for SEO
  • Experience with various database systems, both in production and warehousing capacities, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Redshift
  • Experience with server-side languages

Experienced Desktop Support Career Paths: Where to Go from Here

A major benefit of working as a desktop support profession is that it gives you a lot of flexibility in how your career evolves. After three to five years of hands-on experience in managing computer systems, you may choose to specialize in the field, working as a desktop support analyst or desktop support specialist. However, a popular career path involves making the transition towards becoming a network administrator or system administration.

Network administrators manage the day-to-day operation of an organization’s network system. The job typically includes configuring routers, switches and setting up firewalls. System administrators on the hand are in charge of the computer system. Most employers require a Bachelor’s degree for either position, but it’s possible to get a job without one. You can also boost your qualifications by completing CompTIA, Cisco, Red Hat or Microsoft certifications related to your preferred field.

If you choose to explore a career in networking, you could go onto become a network engineer or a network architect, where your duties will include designing and building data communication networks—anything from large complex intranets to local area networks. Recruiters are more likely to consider you for the position if you already have an advanced network certification like the CCAr (Cisco Certified Architect). You could also specialize in security as a network security engineer or take courses towards becoming a cloud engineer.

A career in desktop support could also lead to data administration. Database administrators use specialized tools to organize, store and manipulate data. You may opt to specialize even further, working as an application DBA, responsible for designing database support, or as a system DBA, tasked with handling the technical aspects of a database. Launching a career in this direction will require a solid grasp of database languages like SQL as well as a minimum of a bachelor’s degree—preferably in areas like information technology or computer science. Most DBAs also have multiple certifications from vendors like Oracle to improve their resume.

After more than a decade in any of these positions, you’ll have more than enough experience to move into managerial positions, working as a senior developer, project manager or IT manager. Depending on the company, your duties may include directing the computer-related activities of the department as well as recommending upgrades to the existing system.

For a real shot to the position of a Chief Technology Officer or Chief Information Officer, you’ll likely need an MBA or a graduate program in a tech-related field. You’ll also need to have solid analytical skills and display an ability to develop and implement effective strategic plans, without supervision. Other soft skills that can help you rise in the job include good communication, an ability to motivate team members, excellent organization skills and be able to work under pressure.

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