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How Do I Become a Computer Support Specialist?

A computer support specialist may train fellow employees to use their computers more efficiently.
Computer support specialists may need to look at a computer's basic programming to identify problems.
Computer support specialists usually have prior experience providing IT support.
A computer suppot specialist can help identify and resolve issues stemming from computer viruses.
Computer support specialists help deal with compatibility issues when software is downloaded onto mobile devices.
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  • Written By: Vicki Hogue-Davies
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Computer support specialists provide technical assistance to people and organizations that use computers. To become a computer support specialist requires extensive computer knowledge and experience. At least a high school education normally is expected, and an associate's degree or bachelor's degree often is desired by employers. Fields of college study that will help you prepare for this career include information technology, computer science or even non-computer-related subjects, if you have the requisite computer experience. If you don't have a college degree, completion of a certificate program in computer support, computer programming or a similar area through a vocational school or community college might help you find work as a computer support specialist.

If you still are in high school, you can do several things to work toward your goal of becoming a computer support specialist. To gain computer experience, take advantage of all of the computer courses that your school offers. Sign up for computer camps during summer and other school breaks. Take advanced math courses to help you develop problem-solving abilities. Language arts courses will help develop reading and writing skills, which also are important if you want to become a computer support specialist.

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If you pursue a college degree program, look for one that offers internships, which will provide real-world experience and possible contacts for later employment. No matter whether you pursue higher education, passing of a certifying test that demonstrates your computer abilities, such as that offered by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), for example, can greatly enhance your credibility with employers. You also can look for software, hardware, networking and other certificates offered by computer vendors that show your expertise in their particular products.

Important skills for working as a computer support specialist include strong problem-solving and troubleshooting abilities. The ability to explain technical concepts to sometimes non-technical computer users and make yourself understood is important. Having patience and a strong customer-service orientation is key in this job, because you will have to assist people who might be frustrated or otherwise upset because of computer problems. Good in-person and telephone communication skills will help you when you become a computer support specialist. Writing ability to communicate effectively via e-mail, as well as to prepare user guides, manuals and other computer documentation, also is helpful if you want to become a computer support specialist.

When seeking employment as a computer support specialist, highlight your computer experience and any specialty areas on your résumé. List your degree if you have one, as well as any certificates you have gained. If you know another language, be sure to highlight it on your résumé, because knowing another language can open many doors in an increasingly global business world.

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Fa5t3r
Post 3

@bythewell - Well, yes and no. I have friends who have worked in that role and they almost always seem to have some other kind of role in the company as well. They are "from the IT department" rather than just a support specialist and they all have degrees in computer science.

If you want to be able to move up in this kind of job you need to either think about being an expert in computers, or an expert in management, because those are your two best options and a degree in either, or both, of those is going to help a lot.

bythewell
Post 2

@croydon - It depends on what kind of role you're taking. I guess phone support isn't all that great a job in some ways, but any job is better than none and I don't think many people would throw away a good job at the moment because it's a bit boring.

It's not the only kind of computer support specialist though. You might be the support for a company and have to help them when their computers aren't working, which would be a lot more difficult and probably require special knowledge.

croydon
Post 1

This job doesn't really require all that much experience with computers. They will usually train you up if you know the basics. It's much more important to know how to relate to people in a support role. And that can be taught as well, but you really need to be able to show that you're a people person when you go for an interview.

The thing is, this job isn't really the most popular and often involves just patiently asking people to turn their computer off and on again in order to reset it. If you want to become a computer support specialist you aren't going to face much competition.

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