The commoditization of the personal computer and its adoption by businesses everywhere as a tool for employee productivity has spawned job opportunities for the technically proficient. Computer users need technical support on occasion to solve problems with hardware or software, or just to figure out how to do something. Technical support specialists help users make the most of the company's computing investment.
While some companies may require a four-year degree, most only require some college classes, preferably in computer science, information technology or a related field. Most community colleges or technical schools have computer science or information technology degree programs. Professional training centers also offer targeted training for skills such as Windows administration.
Technical support personnel must be good trouble-shooters to solve users' problems as quickly as possible. They must also be good at interpersonal communications, giving assurance with a pleasant demeanor to a potentially frustrated computer user. Another important skill is that of self-learning, as technical support specialists must keep up with current technology in order to be most effective on the job.
One of the enjoyable aspects of technical support work is that of researching new products, including hardware and software. Technical people enjoy tinkering with the latest gadget or application, so this can be a most pleasant part of the job. They must, however, keep a business focus, or this research becomes play time, which is not a help to the company.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the 2010 median pay for a technical support job, sometimes called a computer support specialist, was $46,260. Entry-level pay is less than that figure, and depends upon your level of education, certifications and any experience you already have. According to Robert Half's 2013 Salary Guide, the low end for Tier 1 help desk technical support positions is $36,000.
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.