Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists work for computer hardware and software companies, as well as for large retailers, administrative and support services companies, government agencies, educational institutions, financial institutions, insurance companies, telecommunications organizations, and health care organizations. There are approximately 863,100 computer support specialists employed in the United States.
Most computer support positions are considered entry-level. They are found mainly in information technology companies and large corporations. Individuals interested in obtaining a job in this field should scan online ads for openings in local businesses. Since many job openings are publicized by word of mouth, it is critical to speak with as many current computer professionals as possible. They tend to be aware of job openings before anyone else and may be able to offer a recommendation to the hiring committee.
If students of computer technology are seeking a position in computer support, they should work closely with their school’s career services office. Many employers inform career services offices at nearby schools of openings before ads are run. In addition, career services office staffs are generally very helpful with resume writing assistance and interviewing techniques.
If an employee wants to make a career change into computer support, he or she should contact the human resources department of the company or speak directly with appropriate management. In companies that are expanding their computing systems, it is often helpful for management to know that current employees would be interested in growing in a computer-related direction. They may even be willing to finance additional education.
Computer support specialists who demonstrate leadership skills and a strong aptitude for the work may be promoted to supervisory positions within computer support departments. Supervisors are responsible for the more complicated problems that arise, as well as for some administrative duties such as scheduling, interviewing, and job assignments.
Further promotion requires additional education. Some computer support specialists may become commercially certified in computer networking so that they can install, maintain, and repair computer networks. Others may prefer to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science, either full time or part time. The range of careers available to college graduates varies widely. Software engineers analyze industrial, business, and scientific problems and develop software programs to handle them effectively. Quality assurance engineers design automated quality assurance tests for new software applications. Internet quality assurance specialists work specifically with testing and developing companies’ Web sites. Computer systems/programmer analysts study the broad computing picture for a company or a group of companies in order to determine the best way to organize the computer systems.
There are limited opportunities for computer support specialists to be promoted into nonsupport managerial positions. Doing so would require additional education in business but would probably also depend on the individual’s advanced computer knowledge.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Join professional associations such as the Association of Support Professionals to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Become certified in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office.
Ask your computer teacher to help you arrange a career day with a computer support specialist to learn more about the profession.