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Career profile Computer Support Specialist

Also known as Computer Specialist, Computer Support Specialist, Computer Technician, Desktop Support Technician, Help Desk Analyst, Help Desk Technician, Information Technology Specialist (IT Specialist), Support Specialist, Technical Support Specialist

Computer Support Specialist

Also known as Computer Specialist, Computer Support Specialist, Computer Technician

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$32,830 - $88,940 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Telecommunications
Core tasks
  • Answer user inquiries regarding computer software or hardware operation to resolve problems.
  • Oversee the daily performance of computer systems.
  • Read technical manuals, confer with users, or conduct computer diagnostics to investigate and resolve problems or to provide technical assistance and support.
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What does a Computer Support Specialist do?

Computer Support Specialists provide technical assistance to computer users.

In addition, Computer Support Specialists

  • answer questions or resolve computer problems for clients in person, via telephone, or electronically,
  • may provide assistance concerning the use of computer hardware and software, including printing, installation, word processing, electronic mail, and operating systems.

What kind of tasks does a Computer Support Specialist perform regularly?

Computer Support Specialists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Answer user inquiries regarding computer software or hardware operation to resolve problems.
  • Oversee the daily performance of computer systems.
  • Read technical manuals, confer with users, or conduct computer diagnostics to investigate and resolve problems or to provide technical assistance and support.
  • Set up equipment for employee use, performing or ensuring proper installation of cables, operating systems, or appropriate software.
  • Develop training materials and procedures, or train users in the proper use of hardware or software.
  • Enter commands and observe system functioning to verify correct operations and detect errors.
  • Refer major hardware or software problems or defective products to vendors or technicians for service.
  • Maintain records of daily data communication transactions, problems and remedial actions taken, or installation activities.
  • Install and perform minor repairs to hardware, software, or peripheral equipment, following design or installation specifications.
  • Prepare evaluations of software or hardware, and recommend improvements or upgrades.
  • Confer with staff, users, and management to establish requirements for new systems or modifications.

The above responsibilities are specific to Computer Support Specialists. More generally, Computer Support Specialists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Computer Support Specialist salary?

The median salary for a Computer Support Specialist is $52,690, and the average salary is $57,000. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Computer Support Specialist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Computer Support Specialists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Computer Support Specialists earn less than $32,830 per year, 25% earn less than $40,730, 75% earn less than $68,500, and 90% earn less than $88,940.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Computer Support Specialists is expected to change by 8.9%, and there should be roughly 54,800 open positions for Computer Support Specialists every year.

Median annual salary
$52,690
Typical salary range
$32,830 - $88,940
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
8.9%

What personality traits are common among Computer Support Specialists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Computer Support Specialist are usually higher in their Realistic, Conventional, and Investigative interests.

Computer Support Specialists typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Computer Support Specialists typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Lastly, Computer Support Specialists typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Computer Support Specialists typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Computer Support Specialist tend to value Relationships, Working Conditions, and Independence.

Most importantly, Computer Support Specialists strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Computer Support Specialists strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Computer Support Specialists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Computer Support Specialists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Computer Support Specialists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Computer Support Specialists need?

Computer Support Specialists often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Computer Support Specialists usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Computer Support Specialists

  • 0.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 10.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 24.5% completed some college coursework
  • 15.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 37.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 10.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Computer Support Specialists

Computer Support Specialists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as computers and electronics, customer and personal service, or telecommunications knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Computer Support Specialists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Telecommunications
Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Important Abilities needed by Computer Support Specialists

Computer Support Specialists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Computer Support Specialists need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Computer Support Specialists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Critical Skills needed by Computer Support Specialists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Computer Support Specialists frequently use skills like speaking, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Computer Support Specialists, ranked by their relative importance.

Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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