Most businesses rely on computers to handle payroll, inventory and a host of other responsibilities. When your computers don’t work, you don’t work. That’s where IT specialists come in. Information technology specialists rescue you when your computers freeze and work behind the scenes to prevent problems before they crop up. You’ll succeed as an IT specialist if you’re dependable, patient and technically savvy.
Are You Wired For It?
IT specialists need a mathematical and technical aptitude to diagnose and solve computer problems, but they also need to be able to relate to people so they can cut through a user’s frustration to figure out how to rectify his or her problem. You need to be a good listener and you need to work fast to get your users back online so they can resume their duties. You need persistence to try different fixes until you find one that works, and you need to be able to handle stress because your users are depending on you. of under tight deadlines.
You'll spend your days overseeing computer systems, making sure they run as efficiently as possible, and addressing problems as they crop up from users. You’ll be responsible for maintaining anti-virus controls and warning users about potential virus pitfalls. You need to log the complaints you receive and how you addressed them. You'll refer serious hardware problems to more specialized technicians. You'll help develop computer policies and procedures for users and update manuals as well as teach new employees how to use your company’s computers. You also might weigh in on what new computers and systems your company should purchase.
On a Nanosecond's Notice
Because companies depend so heavily on computers, IT specialists are on call 24 hours a day. Some system overhauls are completed overnight so as not to disrupt workers during business hours. You will find IT specialists in a variety of industries, from technology to finance to education to health care. You’ll be asked to uphold ethical standards. For example, if you’re working on payroll software you can’t share company salary information with others in the organization. It’s also your obligation to keep up with changes and trends in the computer industry.
Information technology specialists are among the top 100 jobs in America, according to CNN Money. About a quarter of U.S. IT specialists have a bachelor’s degree, and an additional 40 percent have an associate degree or some college experience, according to O_Net OnLine. The job paid about $46,620 a year in 2013, according to O_Net. Opportunities were expected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022. IT specialists can network and train through the Association of Information Technology Professionals, a trade organization based in Mount Laurel, N.J., among other institutions.
2016 Salary Information for Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists earned a median annual salary of $52,550 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, computer support specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $40,120, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $68,210, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 835,400 people were employed in the U.S. as computer support specialists.