Desktop Support Technicians are the first rung on the IT engineering career ladder.
What is it? Where can it take you? Should you become one? How do you become one?
WHAT IS IT?
The Desktop Support Technician: The unsung hero of the digital era; the 21st century emergency service; a luddite’s first port of call in a cyberstorm (“have you tried turning it off and on again?”).
Also known as: Network Admin, Technical Support, Junior Engineer, Field Support, IT Admin, Technical Service Desk Agent.
When your computer can’t connect to your company intranet, or your smartphone stops downloading apps, or your projector won’t talk to PowerPoint, it’s a Support Technician that you call first.
They are responsible for installing, maintaining and fixing computer software and hardware, and troubleshooting technical problems, whether onsite or remotely, for customers or colleagues.
Other duties may include:
- Setting up user accounts and permissions to allow access to a network.
- Maintaining and testing security; blocking unauthorised access.
- Setting up a maintenance plan to prevent faults.
- Giving technical support to people who use the network/service.
- Carrying out day-to-day administration.
- Designing computer systems to meet specific needs for a company.
- Monitoring day-to-day performance of tech systems.
- Training people how to use computer systems.
PROVIDING AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE
In a contemporary sense, they’re in the same category as mechanics, plumbers and electricians: they keep our essential infrastructure working.
Because of the essential nature of the job, and the round-the-clock service many companies offer their customers, the hours of a Desktop Support Technician can be unpredictable and include night shifts and weekends.
A Desktop Support Technician is the entry level in IT engineering. It is not a well-paid role, but provides experience and a platform for promotion in a very well-paid sector.
WHERE CAN IT TAKE YOU?
The Desktop Support Technician role is the first rung on the IT engineering career ladder: Experienced and skilled IT Engineers are in high demand, and can command a high price for their labour too. Many senior IT Engineers earn $100k+.
The skills you learn are highly transferrable. You could work at the cutting edge of machine-learning in Silicon Valley, or you could offer IT support for your local library. Every business and service needs an IT Technician in some capacity.
And technical support isn't your only option going forwards – you may not be as tech-savvy as your peers, but find you have excellent people management skills, or that project management is your forte. These skills are no less needed, and Desktop Support can provide a springboard into many roles.
WHAT ABOUT THE ROBOTS?
Many employment sectors are suffering at the hands of tech innovation: automation will dramatically reduce the need for drivers; robots are replacing people on production lines; and AI is even stepping on lawyers’ toes.
However, the effect of this in IT – and across STEM subjects – is to increase the need for technical support and engineering skills.
And this growth is set to continue: the dawn of the smart city will require new IT skills across municipal administrations; and the roll-out of blockchain technology will shrink layers of corporate bureaucracy in favour of software-managed systems.
In other words, learning IT support is a way to future-proof your career.
SHOULD YOU BE ONE?
Of course you should be one! But can you? It’s not a job for everyone.
It helps if:
- You love tech.
- You are technically minded.
- You like being challenged. And note that the challenges never get easier: as you get more skilled, the challenges sent your way will get more technical.
- You like helping people, and you have patience. Remember that most people you will be assisting have no IT knowledge, and you may spend a lot of your time explaining the most basic things.
- You’re polite. Desktop Support is a customer service role, so how you treat people is as important as how you treat their devices.
- You like learning. Tech never stops evolving, so neither can you – you’ll have to learn up until the day you retire – an out of date engineer is as good as out of date tech.
- You’re perseverant, and creative: your role is to fix things. If you can’t fix something, you have to figure out a way that you can.
- You’re organised. You may be working on many different projects at once. Managing your time (and other people’s) wisely is important.
If you’re methodical and patient, enjoy learning, teaching and challenging yourself, and are open minded to new ideas and technologies, you will do very well.
If you’re a tech whiz-kid who finds the inability of analogue-minded people to use their devices infuriating, this job probably isn’t for you.
NSC Support staff in Barcelona
HOW DO YOU BECOME ONE?
Desktop Support Technicians are needed in every industry: you could start in the Army, in Healthcare, in retail, or with a larger IT resourcing organisation like NSC where you will work across many clients, earn qualifications and get broad experience. You won’t need to look far to find the job listing.
And getting hired? IT is about competency – so a degree or high school diploma will help, but experience and being demonstrably able is better. Completing the free Google IT Support certification is a clear way of showing eagerness.
And remember, Desktop Support Technicians are the entry level role – get your foot in the door by showing enthusiasm, then work hard and flourish!
Getting a job with NSC isn't the only way to start a career in IT. However, it is a good way: learn while you earn, work with multinational clients, work alongside senior IT engineers and work in a growing company with many international opportunities. Take a look at our open positions on our jobs page.