It’s simple. Technology is all around us and ALL of that technology needs support. From setting up email for a new hire, to programming a smart thermostat in a home or office, all of these systems need someone to help other people use them properly and confidently. This is why tech support is a great IT career starting point for anyone, including those with no experience to those who are considered the local computer guru at work or in the community. With time and commitment, you can build a great career where you “learn while you earn” and grow your knowledge and responsibility while increasing your income.
In lieu of a degree, entry into this field may be obtained through entry level support roles or a demonstration of self taught knowledge. Individuals working in tech support gain invaluable soft skills and hands on experience with systems that often lead to training opportunities and promotions. Starting in tech support allows individuals to experience many aspects of tech and decide where they would like to specialize.
There are four basic stages to a career in tech support. They are: Entry Level, First Promotion, Technical Specialist, Management/Engineer. Keep reading to learn more about these stages and the advancements you can make throughout your career as a tech support specialist!
Entry level support workers are the first line of support for an organization and its customers. This is typically a customer service role set in a product or corporate call center environment. Core responsibilities include setting up, installing, and troubleshooting technology and systems, and helping the customer troubleshoot issues with the system they are currently using or setting up a new system. This role tends to focus on general product knowledge and provides ample training opportunities.
Support specialists are responsible for upgrading, servicing, and maintaining all desktop/ laptop computers and systems for a company. They also might manage a company’s smartphones and tablets in addition to any desktops or notebooks.
Common job titles include:
- Technical Support Coordinator
- Computer Specialist
- Computer Support Specialist
- Computer Technician
- Help Desk Analyst
- Support Specialist
- Technical Support Specialist
While this is very much an entry level position, it provides a clear path to grow and increase your role within the company by demonstrating knowledge, know-how, and excellent customer service.
Once you advance beyond entry level, the first promotion is where an individual can start to explore other roles within the tech department or continue to advance in support. Often referred to as “Level 2 Support,” these individuals are still helping people solve their day to day problems; however, they will not generally be fielding front line calls. This role typically requires more specialized knowledge of the systems they will support.
These are just a few of the new roles that open up outside of the support path:
- Junior Analyst
- Project Coordinator
- Network Technician
- Junior Website Developer
- And more
A Junior Analyst helps a company or other organization use computer technology effectively and efficiently. Project Coordinators serve as a liaison between business and technical aspects of projects, monitoring progress to assure deadlines, standards, and cost targets are met. A Network technician analyzes and resolves end user hardware and software computer problems in a timely and accurate fashion, and provides end user training where required. And Junior Website Developers are the support people behind the design, installation, testing and maintenance of an organization's website.
After 4-6 years working in technology, workers typically gain specialized knowledge inside the tech industry and will be offered higher level roles inside specific departments. These “Level 3 Support” workers have decided to make support their passion and grow a niche speciality that is highly focused and refined. They tend to be very specialized and, in many organizations, level three support is considered to be a part of product development rather than general support.
Here are some of the common roles of a Technical Specialist and their core responsibilities:
- Analysts incorporate new technology into a company's current system after doing a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether doing so is financially sound and will serve the organization well.
- Network Administrators are responsible for implementing, maintaining, supporting, developing and, in some cases designing communication networks within an organization or between organizations.
- Programmers turn specifications into working code for a specific system or platform.
Of course, there are other specialities that exist outside of these examples, and the opportunity exists to create one that is uniquely your own. The key to advancing to this role is to identify early on where you wish to specialize and be strategic about refining your focus in this area.
After a professional has 8-10 years of experience and training under their belt, they will have the skills needed to lead support teams and other teams. At this level, some will have taken a path where they can also design systems like the ones they once supported. This is an exciting advancement where you will be given the responsibility to oversee other people and technical systems, and with the responsibility comes the need for strong leadership skills, accountability, and problem-solving. Before someone advances into management and/or engineering, it’s important that they have the right skills not only to do, but to predict, problem-solve, and lead.
Common job titles that fall under this category include:
- Technical Support Manager
- Technical Project Manager
- Network Security Analyst
- Systems Architect
- Database Architect
How to Get Started
Through these examples, we hope you can see how investing in a skills training program in tech support can lead to an amazing career. The big advantage of a tech career path is that you can continue to gain skills and take courses while you work to advance your career. Better yet, it’s common that your employer will pay for continuing education. Additionally, the need for people to support and design technology is only going to grow, so you are getting in on a great career path.
While you consider whether you desire a carer in tech support, why not take the first step to speak to a real person who can answer your questions and provide you with additional information? There’s never any cost or commitment to having this first conversation, and the information you gain can help shape your career in ways beyond what you can anticipate. Take the leap today! Contact NuPaths and we’ll connect you with a student success coordinator who will be excited to learn about your skills and passion.