Technical support (or IT support) professionals help resolve customers’ technical problems via email, phone, 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, there is a growing market for on-demand services for home and office tech repair, set-up and troubleshooting. Companies providing this service dispatch their support analysts when summoned to fix anything from a cracked iPhone screen to a tricky installation or a laptop riddled with malware.
Typical duties include:
- logging and processing support calls
- installing and configuring computer hardware, software, systems, networks, printers and scanners
- planning and undertaking scheduled maintenance upgrades
- setting up accounts for staff, ensuring that they know how to log in
- solving password problems
- talking to clients and computer users to determine the nature of any problems they encounter
- responding to breakdowns
- investigating, diagnosing and solving computer software and hardware faults
- repairing equipment and replacing parts
- supervising junior engineering and technical staff
- obtaining replacement or specialist components, fixtures or fittings
- checking computer equipment for electrical safety
- maintaining records of software licences
- managing stocks of equipment, consumables and other supplies
- Banks and financial service companies
- Manufacturing firms and service areas
- Schools, colleges and universities
- Public sector organisations, such as the NHS and local authorities
- Electronics retailers
- Software retailers
- Almost all SMEs and larger companies recruit IT support staff to assist employees
Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and by recruitment agencies.
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 open to graduates of any discipline, technical support employers typically 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. To find out more about getting into IT and technology via a school leaver route, visit the IT and technology section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
Many IT support analysts advance their careers by broadening their skills within a specific industry or area. Large companies with an extensive technical infrastructure may have separate teams dealing with different areas of their business. With experience, a move to a specialist area dealing with more complex technical environments is possible. Another option is to take on the role of team or section leader.
- In-depth knowledge of hardware and software
- Up-to-date knowledge of the latest IT and software trends
- Strong customer service ethos
- Ability to work well with people
- Strong communications skills
- Excellent organisational skills
- Ability to quickly establish good working relationships with clients
- Willingness to sometimes work unsociable hours
- A logical mind
- Enthusiasm for continual learning