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How to Become an IT Specialist

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

The job title "IT specialist" applies to basic entry-level positions in a company's information technology department. Computer support specialist is another typical title for this profession. IT specialists help develop and maintain the hardware and software infrastructure and support employees in their usage of technology. You need strong technical training for this position and some companies may require a bachelor's degree.

Job Responsibilities

An IT specialist researches and helps select hardware and software programs used in a business or company department. After installation, the specialist aids employees in achieving optimal use of the technology components important to their jobs. A computer support worker also offers advice when employees struggle with particular programs or need to understand how to use a piece of technology to carry out certain work tasks.

Degree Requirements

You may get a general IT support role without a degree or with a two-year trade degree, but an advanced technical specialist job requires a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Common educational degree fields for a computer specialist career include computer science, information science and engineering. Continuing education is also necessary because the hardware and software programs change or evolve all the time.

Technical Training

For more technical, higher-paying jobs and advancement opportunities, specialists need more training. Top software companies offer in-class or online certification programs, for instance. Getting certified for products from companies like Microsoft and Adobe enhances your value to employers. The more programs you know in your organization, the greater your role and value. You could also get training on various computer languages to engage in programming and troubleshooting activities. Customer-service training leads to broader roles in computer support careers where you interact more directly with internal employees or external clients.

Skills and Qualities

Even if you have the education and technical training an employer wants, certain skills and qualities improve your job prospects. Problem-solving skills are vital to resolve installation and performance challenges. Listening skills, teamwork and a service attitude tell an employer you make a good fit in the organizational culture and IT team as well. For even greater value, develop strong presentation skills. Employers rely on IT to share information and updates with employees at meetings and seminars. You may also represent the company in public presentations and educational events.

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.