Because of how common computers are in the workplace, nearly every business whether large or small employs at least one computer support technician.
Smaller businesses often hire computer support technicians on a freelance basis or work with computer support companies in the areas. Larger businesses often have their own team of customer support technicians on retainer.
Customer support technicians work directly with customers to address issues with their computers. Some technicians work over the phone to direct customers, while others visit the site in person to correct more challenging issues. Some customer service technicians work solely over the internet, using chat programs and email to address issues. Specific programs are designed to allow customer support technicians to remotely connect to a computer to make changes when needed.
Technicians who are not on retainer typically work in a call center or similar customer support building. Many customer support technicians work as freelancers, doing a mixture of in-person and over the phone customer support. More detailed information about different customer support technician careers is covered below.
What does a computer support technician do?
Computer support technicians handle any kind of computer problem their clients are unable to solve on their own. Common issues solved by computer technicians include small issues, like being unable to login to a computer or needing a password retrieval. Larger issues are handled as well, like reformatting a computer or removing viruses.
Computer support technicians who primarily work over the phone or internet are sometimes called help desk technicians. Help desk technicians primarily handle software related issues, since hardware issues normally require an onsite technician to fix.
Computer support technicians must provide step by step instructions to address an issue. Even if the technician is handling the issue on his or her own, it is common to explain what he or she is doing so the customer understands. This way, the customer is aware of any changes being made to their system and may even learn how to prevent the issue in the future.
Walking the customer through the process ensures the customer is not caught off guard by any changes. For example, some problems are only fixed with extreme methods, like wiping the hard drive. The customer may lose information in this instance. Customers who understand the process prepare for this and either wait to get their files backed up or accept the loss and approve the repair. This is especially important in a workplace setting, as the computer may contain critical company files.
Some computer support technicians specialize in a role, like solving issues for specific programs. This is especially common in a company setting where employees use custom programs. Other technicians field any sort of computer issue.
Some technicians handle onsite installations for new hardware or programs as well. These technicians sometimes instruct employees on how to use new programs. Technicians handle mass updates throughout an office in some instances. In many businesses, these technicians are referred to as system administrators.
Other types of specialization include network support technicians. These technicians address any issues relating to devices connected to a network, primarily treating routers and servers. Most network technicians have minimal contact with customers, often going directly on-site to solve network problems.
Where Computer Support Technicians Work
Many computer support technicians work remotely. Freelance technicians may work entirely from home. Other technicians provide customer support from a call center. Call center technicians typically handle smaller issues, such as helping new customers establish an internet connection, refresh passwords or perform basic system updates.
Computer support technicians are commonly found in healthcare industries. Hospitals are run 24/7, with the majority of customer information stored on computers. Even a small technical error may have serious consequences, so a dedicated computer support team is kept on hand to address any issues.
College campuses often have a dedicated computer support team as well. In a school setting, the computer support team is available to both students and teachers. Many state and federal offices employ a dedicated customer support team.
Essential Qualities for a Computer Support Technician
Computer support technicians need several different skills. Knowing how to use computers is a key part of being a support technician, but it is not the only required skill. To truly be a successful computer support technician, the technician must have strong customer support skills.
Many customers are frustrated when they call for customer support. There is the possibility the customer is not technologically savvy. Computer support technicians must be able to clearly and patiently explain what the customer needs to do.
Computer support technicians must be able to quickly analyze problems and come up with solutions. With computers, the problems are often caused by different factors. Some issues have universal solutions, but many are dependent on other factors. Computer support technicians must be able to consider all the possibilities and come up with the best solution, otherwise, they may end up creating new problems.
Research is important for computer support technicians as well. Unlike other professions, customer support technicians must learn constantly. New programs are being released throughout the year. Technicians must understand how all these programs work so they can fix any issues with newly released programs.
Learn How to Become a Computer Support Technician
The requirements to become a computer support technician largely depend on the company. Most companies prioritize technical experience versus specific credentials or degrees. If the company deals with specialized programs or equipment, technicians may need certification in those areas before being considered for a job. Technical businesses, such as engineering firms or hospitals, often require technicians to have a mix of experience and credentials.
Salary and Job Outlook
Computer support technicians are often paid well even if they are not working with a large company. According to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2017, the lowest salary for a computer technician was around $37,000. The highest was close to $105,000. On average, technicians earn between $50,000 and $70,000, depending on where they work.
Computer support technicians are constantly in high demand. Both small and large businesses need computer support. Even freelance computer support technicians are in high demand, and the industry is only expected to grow in the following years as computer technology continues to advance.