Technical support (or IT support) professionals help resolve people’s technical problems via email, phone and social media and in person.
Professionals in this area either work in-house (providing support within a particular organisation) or provide support and services to other businesses, to customers of a particular product, or on an ad hoc basis (for example, fixing cracked phone screens or removing malware from a user’s laptop).
Typical duties include:
- talking to clients and computer users to determine the nature of the problems they are encountering
- diagnosing the source of users’ IT problems
- advising clients on possible solutions
- carrying out a repair or helping customers do this for themselves
- escalating complex problems and making users aware of the impact of this
- installing and configuring computer hardware, software, systems, networks, printers and scanners
- planning and undertaking scheduled maintenance upgrades
- setting up accounts for new staff and ensuring that they know how to log in
- logging and processing support calls
- repairing equipment and replacing parts
- supervising other staff
- checking IT equipment for electrical safety
- maintaining records of software licences
- managing stocks of equipment, components, consumables and other supplies.
The role may involve working unsociable hours if your organisation provides IT support at these times. You’re likely to work shifts if this is the case. You may also have to work longer hours if there is an emergency.
Your organisation may have an agreed time in which IT issues need to be resolved. This can add pressure to the role.
You may also need to be on call (available to handle emergencies), particularly as you progress to more senior roles.
IT support analysts tend to earn between £25,000 and £30,000 (source: glassdoor.co.uk). Earnings grow with experience, particularly if you aspire to managing a team of analysts.
You could expect to work for:
- banks and professional services firms
- manufacturing firms and service areas
- schools, colleges and universities
- public sector organisations, such as the NHS and local authorities
- electronics retailers
- charities, particularly large ones
- software retailers.
Almost all SMEs and larger companies recruit IT support staff to assist employees. Smaller organisations may use external IT support companies rather than employ people in-house.
With experience, you could become self-employed and work with the clients or organisations you choose.
Jobs are advertised on targetjobs and by careers services. You’ll also find them advertised by recruitment agencies, both specialist IT agencies and general ones. Jobs boards such as it-supportjobs.co.uk also advertise roles.
Both university graduates and school leavers can enter the IT support or helpdesk profession. Whether you have a degree or not, you will need to demonstrate an interest in fixing technical problems, either through previous work experience or activities you have completed in your own time.
While IT support roles are open to graduates of any discipline, some employers prefer graduates with an IT-related qualification.
It is often possible to enter this career without a degree. Apprenticeships are available in IT support, sometimes requiring GCSEs only.
Key skills recruiters will be looking for include:
- in-depth knowledge of hardware and software
- up-to-date knowledge of IT and software trends
- strong customer service ethos
- the ability to work well with people from all backgrounds
- strong communications skills
- excellent organisational skills
- the ability to quickly establish good working relationships with clients
- the ability to work to deadlines and under pressure.
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