Candidates who are interested in computers and enjoy problem solving might find themselves in IT support jobs. Support technicians provide support for software and hardware problems across a wide range of applications. Some can be found in-house working for a specific company, whereas others may choose to work through an agency as a more specialised consultant. The opportunities are endless when it comes to the role, but what are the sorts of skills that candidates need to groom? We shall take a look.
To become a support technician, candidates will need to have a thorough understanding of various computer operating systems and software. In addition to this, support technicians must be familiar with networking and hardware requirements in order to offer live assistance to issues that come up beyond simple software glitches and bugs. Most importantly, they will possess the communication skills to break down the jargon and offer solutions in simpler language to end users who may not be as technically advanced as the support technician.
Support technicians either work directly on site or increasingly can offer support virtually through web based applications and built-in solutions like remote desktop. They may also be assigned to take queries by phone or e-mail. The position typically includes talking to clients to get them out of the issues they are experiencing and explaining workarounds so that the issues do not come up again.
However, support technicians offer much more than just live solutions to current issues. They will also be required to fix equipment like printers and scanners when they develop faults and set up new equipment when upgrading existing solutions. They will also be required to test and service equipment throughout their day and offer training and insight when an upgrade takes place.
Support technicians often work sociable hours during the week. However, this is not an ingrained requirement of the role. Technicians will often be required to commit to an on-call rota or do shift work, which will often include evenings and weekends. This is an important consideration to make since rota changes can quickly change or interrupt weekend plans.
Travel is also often a requirement. While technicians are usually based in a home office, they will usually be required to travel between departments within the company or even externally to other clients altogether. For this reason, it is often required that support technicians have a full driver's license with increasing preference being given to those with access to their own vehicle. Companies will sometimes provide a company car for technician use, but this is not always the case.
Technicians tend to start in a salary range between £18,000 and £22,000 a year, and experienced technicians can earn up to £30,000 a year. Senior technicians tend to command these higher salaries and this only comes after several years of experience in a support role and by holding supporting titles, like an advanced degree in IT or other high-level qualification.
The academic side of the role is not a hard requirement, however. Often, while preference will be shown towards those with qualifications in the Level 5 range and above, those holding technician-specific qualifications like the ICT PC Maintenance at Level 1 or the Certificate in ICT Systems and Principles at Level 2 are likely to be considered. These courses are widely available at colleges and universities across the United Kingdom, as well as within private training centres.
IT is a field that changes on a regular basis, so candidates will likely need to keep on top of things if they want to be considered as support technicians. They will need to continue to develop their skills and knowledge throughout their career as well. They may do this directly through the company, which is often the case, or may take it upon themselves to increase their qualifications to Level 4 or Level 5 and beyond.
There are an increasing amount of support technicians who choose to support very subject-specific areas and thus a broader qualification wouldn't be appropriate. Recognised certification programs exist in this area instead. These include the Cisco Certified Network Associate and the CompTIA A+ Certificate. These involve far more in-depth levels of study, but the areas of study will be far more focused. This is sometimes thought to limit job opportunities across the board, but will usually command higher starting salaries for those who are able to secure roles calling for these certifications.