Spotlight on Desktop Support Technicians

Desktop Support Technicians are problem-solvers, who enjoy working with computers and helping others.

it-desktop-supportOtherwise known as Computer User Support Technicians, they are the first port of call for people experiencing problems with their computer, software, network or the internet. Some positions deal directly with the public, while others are responsible for the IT needs of a particular company and its employees.

In Texas, demand for Desktop Support Specialists is expected to increase by 25% over the next seven years. As we reported in April, demand for IT skills in Dallas Fort Worth has driven salaries to over 10% higher than the national average.

If you want to become a Computer Support Specialist, you need to be willing to work with people, as helping others solve their problems will be your primary responsibility. To do this, you will need to communicate effectively via the internet, the phone, or in person. You also should have the patience of a saint because often you will be dealing with people who have little to no IT knowledge. You really will have to say “Have you turned it off and then on again?” multiple times a day.

Job Outlook

Along with the 25% increase in jobs available, according to CareerOneSpot, there are expected to be over 2000 Computer User Support job openings every year. Due to the rate of innovation of IT infrastructure, software and smart devices, organizations will require more computer support to stay abreast of technology changes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also says that increased demand from the healthcare industry for electronic records management and data security will also generate more employment for people in these roles.

According to BLS Occupational Employment Statistics, in the U.S. there were 602,840 Computer User Support Specialists in 2016. This number is expected to increase by 13% to 661,000 by 2024. In Texas, in 2016 there were 57,340 people employed as Computer User Support Specialists and the number of jobs available is expected to grow by 25% to 70,680 by 2024. For every 1000 people employed, 4.88 have these roles. This rate is much higher in the Dallas area, with 7.19 people employed in these positions per 1000 jobs.

Nationally, Dallas Fort Worth has the fourth highest employment of these positions (17,470) while North Texas has the fifth highest nonmetropolitan employer of Computer User Support Specialists. Wages in Dallas are also strong at 11% above the national average according to Payscale Human Capital.

Technical Skills

Most people in Desktop and Computer User Support have been to a technical college and, usually, the positions require little to no work experience or on-the-job training. But if you want to take on these roles you need to know your stuff: you’ll be expected to have a swathe of certifications up your sleeve and a willingness to keep your technical knowledge up-to-date.

Computer Networks: To help computer users in an organizational environment, you have to understand how networks are installed and managed computer networks, how processes run, and likely problems that may occur.

Hardware & Software: Not only will you need to know your way around a computer, you have to be able to set up and train others as well.

Security: Support Specialists have to understand IT security to be able to educate others on safe online behavior, the importance of maintaining software updates, and other security protocols.

Certifications: You should ensure you a selection of well-respected certifications up your sleeve to show that you are dedicated and have a wide-ranging knowledge, including in Windows, Linux, Cisco and cloud-based systems. A good place to start is certifications in CompTIA A+, Network+ and Cloud Essentials; Microsoft Security, Networking and Windows Servers; Cisco CCENT and CCNA; and, Linux Essentials.

Active Listening: You will need to be able to listen carefully to clients, asking appropriate and guiding questions to determine the problem.

Communication: In these roles, you’ll talk to people from varying backgrounds, many of whom will have limited IT knowledge. You have to be able to explain complex processes simply and guide computer users verbally through step-by-step instruction.

Problem Solving:  If you take on this career, all day, every day, you will be solving other people’s problems. You’ll have to think quickly and critically to determine what is wrong and the most appropriate solution.

Job Opportunities

Job opportunities for Desktop and Computer User Support Specialists are plentiful. At the time of writing, Glassdoor had over 2000 jobs advertised in the Dallas area over the past two weeks for jobs requiring desktop support skills, Indeed had 100 positions advertised while Career Builder had 40 positions available in DFW. When searching for these roles, look out for the following job titles, or variations thereof.

  • Desktop Support Technician
  • Information Technology Specialist
  • Computer Technician
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Computer User Support Specialists
  • Network Technician
  • Technical Support Specialist
  • PC Support Technician Help Desk Technicians

While IT companies and education facilities tend to have the highest level of employment in these occupations, many large businesses and hospitals employ in-house IT support officers. The top paying industries for Computer User Support Technicians are transportation and banking.
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