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Computer Support Specialists

Published On : September 01, 2010


career resources for Computer Support Techs


What's Needed:

  • While some may require a bachelor's degree in computer science or computer engineering associate's degrees are satisfactory for most mid-level positions within the field. Those who work in customer-support roles may require even less formal education.
  • Certification programs are available from many community colleges vocational schools and online universities.
  • Most employers require newly-hired technicians to participate in on-the-job training that may last for three to six months.
  • Many employers also require periodic continuing-education classes given the fast-paced changes in computing technologies.

What you study:

Computer support technicians typically study the following subjects in high school and college.

  • Computer programming
  • Computer science
  • Statistics
  • Calculus
  • Systems and network analysis
  • Web design/engineering

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a Computer support specialist student.

Customer Service SkillsApplication of customer service concepts in a computer support setting; understanding customer wants and needs; ?soft? customer communication skills; handling difficult customers; the role of the help desk within the overall technical support department; basic overview of hardware software networking and the Internet support.Familiarize students with core concepts of professional customer service and with the main areas in which computer support specialists provide customer assistance.
Hardware Repair and MaintenanceTerms concepts and functions of personal computers both as stand-alone machines and as components of a network; diagnosing troubleshooting disassembling replacing and?repairing the hardware components of a computer.Enable students to perform routine maintenance on computer hardware and to diagnose and repair hardware problems.
Software ApplicationsCommon office and productivity software such as Microsoft Word Excel and PowerPoint; using software tools to con?gure computers and networks to back up data to protect against viruses and other online threats and to set up simple networks.Prepare students to work with common types of software interfaces and provide technical support for software issues.
Web DesignCreation and publication of simple web pages using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)?Extensible HTML (XHTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS); Internet connections and protocols; web browsers and possibilities for customizing them; search engines; Web 2.0 applications.Provide a grasp of basic web design principles and standards and help them troubleshoot Internet-related problems.
Network CommunicationsEstablishing and maintaining connections among multiple computers via a local area network (LAN) and a wide area network (WAN); industry standards for network communication and security; Internet Protocol (IP) addressing; setting up network servers; network-related hardware such as routers modems and network cables.Introduce the most widely used types of computer networks and enable students to resolve network complaints.
IT Project ManagementHistory of project management in information technology work; creating and developing an IT project; planning scheduling and budgeting the project; software tools for project management; working with other IT team members in a project management framework.Develop awareness of the support specialist's duties on an IT project; develop team-based thinking for IT support environments.

Video Overview

A short look at the work of computer support techs. Slightly outdated but still a helpful overview. Created for the US Department of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

There are no formal state-level licensing requirements for computer support technicians. In fact there are few reputable trade associations or certification-issuing organizations within the field. However many manufacturers require the computer support technicians who work with their software and devices to take product-specific certification courses as a quality-control measure. When a technician completes such a course he or she receives a certificate that demonstrates mastery of the pertinent product. In the eyes of many employers these certifications are attractive and may warrant the payment of a salary premium. Alternatively many employers issue certificates to individuals who complete certain on-the-job or continuing-education training programs.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most computer support technicians must shoulder full-time workloads of 40 or more hours per week. In addition these hours are often irregular. Since most technology-intensive businesses require someone to be available around the clock to attend to computer-related emergencies some technicians may regularly work evening or overnight shifts.

Work location:

Most computer support technicians work on-site. Typical work environments include the IT departments of major businesses government agencies and financial institutions. Others work in dedicated facilities administered by specialized computer-support firms. A growing number of consumer-focused computer support technicians now work from home. These at-home workers may adhere to more traditional work schedules.

Recommended Websites

The following resources may be useful for those who wish to become computer support technicians:

  • — This database provides useful information about the typical computer support technician's earnings education requirements career track and daily workload. It also contains links to educational resources and access to a full jobs board.
  • Virginia Employment Commission — This exhaustive resource describes the daily responsibilities of computer support technicians in great detail. It also provides standard information about the educational qualifications and certifications necessary to succeed in the field. Although its job-search feature is specific to Virginia it represents a great starting point for aspiring computer support technicians.
  • iSeek Careers — This resource provides a complete overview of the computer support technician field including wage information educational requirements and job-growth prospects. It also has links to similar career fields and useful educational tools. However its job-search feature is regional in nature.
  • U.S. Department of Labor — The U.S. Department of Labor's fact sheet on computer support technicians provides median salary information detailed job-duties descriptions and important information about education and licensing. This is a great place for any aspiring computer support technician to start.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$47110$33K – $79K7300.42%
AKFairbanks$51530$39K – $74K1100.31%
ALAnniston – Oxford$44790$34K – $59K1200.28%
ALAuburn – Opelika$45860$21K – $69K4200.87%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$46000$31K – $73K18400.38%
ALDecatur$48520$22K – $60K600.11%
ALDothan$37110$27K – $63K1000.18%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$37090$23K – $52K800.16%
ALHuntsville$41600$26K – $69K19600.97%
ALMobile$34890$26K – $53K11000.65%
ALMontgomery$41770$27K – $68K6800.43%
ALTuscaloosa$36840$22K – $60K1200.14%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$41150$26K – $61K6200.31%
ARFort Smith$36930$20K – $67K1800.16%
ARHot Springs$30140$24K – $48K800.22%
ARJonesboro$29370$18K – $48K1000.20%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$41700$29K – $62K11100.33%
ARPine Bluff$37580$22K – $77K1000.28%
AZFlagstaff$38690$25K – $56K1400.25%
AZLake Havasu City $ Kingman$30600$25K – $49K700.16%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$44530$27K – $77K82800.48%
AZPrescott$38630$18K – $61K1100.20%
AZTucson$46270$28K – $67K15900.46%
AZYuma$38550$19K – $55K1600.30%
CABakersfield – Delano$51110$29K – $77K8200.30%
CAChico$52990$28K – $74K2500.38%
CAEl Centro$41760$27K – $55K900.18%
CAFresno$43400$26K – $67K6200.20%
CAHanford – Corcoran$48790$34K – $69K400.12%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$47500$30K – $77K133400.34%
CAMadera – Chowchilla$55070$33K – $89K700.19%
CAMerced$36660$29K – $65K1500.25%
CAModesto$52370$29K – $75K3300.22%
CANapa$48350$39K – $83K1200.20%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$56300$32K – $94K46300.48%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$50190$28K – $86K9300.32%
CARedding$37230$31K – $55K1200.21%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$47310$27K – $71KN/AN/A
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$56880$37K – $86K31700.39%
CASalinas$54270$33K – $86K5000.32%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$45480$29K – $71K53700.43%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$64280$36K – $95K56700.57%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$66040$37K – $118K82800.92%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$39650$27K – $68K4300.43%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$54670$33K – $81K67000.47%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$53490$32K – $75K5600.34%
CASanta Cruz – Watsonville$49000$33K – $73K2500.30%
CASanta Rosa – Petaluma$54540$34K – $86K4600.27%
CAStockton$46770$25K – $77K5300.27%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$57240$39K – $90K2000.16%
CAVisalia – Porterville$43210$26K – $61K2200.17%
CAYuba City$46220$29K – $71K700.18%
COBoulder$55880$33K – $88K15600.98%
COColorado Springs$47350$29K – $78K16700.69%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$54010$34K – $81K80000.65%
COFort Collins – Loveland$48580$28K – $94K6400.48%
COGrand Junction$50040$32K – $69K900.15%
COGreeley$45550$30K – $70K2400.30%
COPueblo$43380$19K – $59K1200.22%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$56560$35K – $92K24000.58%
CTDanbury$49700$26K – $90K1800.27%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$57440$37K – $100K37300.67%
CTNew Haven$54300$38K – $77K10700.40%
CTNorwich – New London$49590$34K – $83K3400.27%
CTWaterbury$50470$35K – $65K1500.23%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$56790$33K – $92K159500.68%
DEDover$44060$24K – $61K900.16%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$52960$33K – $80K17100.53%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$39220$31K – $59K2800.14%
FLCrestview – Fort Walton Beach – Destin$36100$23K – $58K1700.24%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$35680$22K – $56K3800.25%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$$25K – $70K27700.39%
FLGainesville$36340$26K – $60K3200.27%
FLJacksonville$42770$29K – $65K18600.32%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$41930$28K – $62K5100.27%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$43160$28K – $71K32700.33%
FLNaples – Marco Island$38770$27K – $61K2400.21%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$38320$26K – $68K5700.24%
FLOcala$36030$24K – $54K2100.24%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$40650$25K – $67K45600.45%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$42760$25K – $71K8200.43%
FLPanama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach$42630$25K – $59K1100.16%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$33010$24K – $54K4900.32%
FLPort St. Lucie$40560$25K – $75K2700.22%
FLPunta Gorda$30080$18K – $56K600.16%
FLSebastian – Vero Beach$28490$17K – $49K1000.22%
FLTallahassee$36020$26K – $53K8100.52%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$43750$27K – $67K48800.43%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$45100$29K – $74K15100.30%
GAAlbany$41030$26K – $70K1200.20%
GAAthens – Clarke County$30140$21K – $49K1900.25%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$46270$27K – $74K147400.65%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$43820$25K – $80K5300.26%
GABrunswick$37500$31K – $56K900.23%
GAColumbus$35810$25K – $54K2800.26%
GADalton$41040$31K – $62K180obr>1600.23%
GAHinesville – Fort Stewart$49700$29K – $68K400.24%
GAMacon$34790$24K – $55K3200.34%
GARome$37180$25K – $47K800.22%
GASavannah$43320$28K – $69KN/AN/A
GAValdosta$36830$25K – $56K1300.25%
GAWarner Robins$46510$28K – $70K2100.37%
HIHonolulu$46290$30K – $76K12700.29%
IAAmes$52120$29K – $70K1200.30%
IACedar Rapids$43360$30K – $60K3300.24%
IADavenport – Moline – Rock Island$34940$25K – $56K9200.52%
IADes Moines – West Des Moines$45080$26K – $68K11600.36%
IADubuque$44780$28K – $70K3700.66%
IAIowa City$49440$34K – $68K3200.38%
IASioux City$23020$20K – $42K4200.60%
IAWaterloo – Cedar Falls$44100$32K – $69K1400.16%
IDBoise City – Nampa$30760$20K – $62K12600.48%

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