A Deeper Look at the Technical Support Specialist Role

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of high-paying technical support specialist positions will grow 11% faster than average between 2016 and 2026. But what do technical support specialists really do?

These computer professionals help over the phone and in-person when users have trouble with logins and when software or sometimes even hardware malfunctions. Some technical support specialists conduct their jobs completely over the phone as customer service representatives, while others work on-site supporting employees in an office or organizational setting.

Other job titles for these positions include Help Desk Technician, IT Specialist, Network Technician, Network Specialist, IT Consultant.

Skills Needed to Be a Technical Support Specialist

A variety of technical skills may be needed for this role, depending on what type of software and services are being supported. A basic understanding of how software works can be helpful, and the required expertise will probably be different for each product being supported.

Besides technical skills, communication and problem-solving are probably the two most important skills to have for technical support specialist roles. These professionals will confront problems on a daily basis that they will have to solve in creative and unique ways.

Man helping a coworker on a computer.

Helping users when systems malfunction is a major part of a technical support specialist role.

Even when the role is more limited, and the solutions are generally provided for you, it will take excellent communication skills to explain technical material in a way that can be easily understood by users that don’t have the same level of technical expertise.

Hours and Expectations for Technical Support Specialists

While technical support specialists may be full time or part time, they may work any shift to provide 24 hour-a-day support–especially for phone support positions. Some jobs may offer overtime to cover absences or personnel shortages. Even some organizational positions may require shift work in the evenings or on weekends.

There are usually specific rules to follow for these roles. Confidentiality agreements may be used to keep proprietary information private. Supervisors may handle tough cases like those who are abusive or too angry to speak calmly, as well as complex situations that go beyond the normal scope of user problems.

While AI bots are not yet advanced enough to be able to conduct technical support without human help and interaction, they may be used to handle basic inquiries and cut down on staffing for these positions somewhat. This may actually improve working conditions by making the job less repetitive and less focused on basic issues that are easy to solve.

These positions, while they pay well, do not all require computer science degrees. In some cases, just a few courses may be necessary if you can demonstrate the necessary skills and expertise. As you gain knowledge and experience, you may qualify for more advanced positions like network administrator or call center supervisor.

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