Help Desk Representatives
Education and Training Requirements
The minimum formal education requirement for help desk representatives is a high school diploma, although you should also expect, at a minimum, some on-the-job training. Courses in computer science, math, and electronics will be useful, but don't underestimate the importance of people skills in this job. An understanding of psychology and strong communication skills are important in working closely with people who are having problems and often are distraught or angry. You'll also need a mastery of English and speech, so take these classes. As a help desk representative, you'll need not only technical knowledge, but also the ability to explain procedures and give instructions in a way that's easily understood, often to people who have little technical knowledge or experience. Depending on the nature of your job, you might have to provide assistance online (by writing) or orally (over the phone).
Many help desk representatives have associate's degrees in a computer-related field, although some people enter this career with just a high school diploma and on-the-job training. A bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering, or information science usually required for higher-level computer support specialist positions.
Some colleges and universities offer certificates in computer support, computer science, and related topics that will be useful to aspiring help desk representatives. Contact schools in your area to learn about available programs.
Other Education or Training
HDI offers educational sessions on desktop support, the customer experience, support center optimization, and other topics at its annual conference. Contact the institute for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Certification isn't required to work as a help desk representative, but having certification from an industry association shows prospective employers that your knowledge and skills have been recognized and are validated. Certification can also give you an advantage over other job candidates. CompTIA offers certification programs in various computer software programs. HDI offers various certification programs that are geared to specific roles, such as customer service representative, support center analyst, desktop support technician, support center team lead, among many other programs.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
On-the-job training for help desk representatives usually lasts several months. Entry-level positions require prior customer service experience. Part-time or summer work in a computer store, customer service department, or related business is useful background for this job. Help desk representatives who work full time in corporate offices are usually in noisy, hectic environments. The ability to stay focused, speak clearly and listen closely to customers, and come up with solutions is key to success. Strong knowledge of computers and an interest in helping customers solve computer issues is required. Customers may be frustrated or angry over their computer problems, so patience and diplomacy are also beneficial.