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What Is a Help Desk Technician?

Help desk technicians may be able to trouble shoot computer issues.
Many companies now offer tech support through online chat.
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  • Written By: G. Kirkland
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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A help desk technician is a computer support specialist whose primary responsibility is to respond to requests from computer users. People who choose this profession typically have a love for solving technical problems and helping others. Many have undergraduate degrees in information technology (IT), or at the very least have learned the trade from extensive computer use and experience. Typical responsibilities of someone in this position include troubleshooting specific computer issues, working one-on-one with the public, and filing work tickets to help track the process.

For the most part, a help desk technician is the front line for customer support whenever there is a problem with a computer. Computer support is traditionally divided into different classifications, called tiers. A first-time caller with a problem will most likely be assisted by a tier one technician. The technician usually does his or her best to answer the caller’s question during the conversation.

If the problem is particularly challenging, the support call may be escalated to a tier two help desk technician. These individuals usually have experience solving more challenging questions or problems that computer users face. He or she has likely had to solve similar cases in the past and generally is looked upon as an expert.

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Some larger computer support organizations will have a tier three technician to handle the most difficult questions. These technical support engineers typically have great problem solving and technology research capabilities. They use these capabilities to help solve problems for complex issues that may or may not have previously occurred.

Many tech support individuals will also teach technology classes on individual subjects to help people help themselves. This can reduce the number of help desk calls, thereby allowing technicians to focus more time on additional responsibilities. A technician might also help manage a network, perform computer installations, or produce training course material.

Most help desks typically have a specialized software package that is used for tracking the completion of support requests. Having software to track problems can help managers analyze the types of questions and problems that the end users have. Trends can be analyzed to help with planning the computer education program. Help desk software also keeps statistics to know how many calls each help desk technician resolves over a given period of time. This information can be used as a basis for performance reviews among peers, as well.

Help desk software can also be helpful to the end user who is making the request. A ticket is generated when the support call begins, and both the caller and the technician follow this ticket to track progress on the problem until it is satisfactorily resolved. Closing out a help desk ticket signals the completion of the support case and releases the help desk technician to begin helping another client.

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BrainyGoat
Post 3
@Federlink: You may need to relocate to another area with more, or better paying jobs. Or, if you have a reliable internet connection, you may be able to find a virtual help desk technician job that allows you to work from home, providing customers with computer assistance over the Internet.

The compensation for entry level IT jobs varies widely, depending on where in the country the job is located, the amount of experience required, and how large the company is that is offering the position.

Federlink
Post 2

I've completed my help desk technician training, but am having difficulty finding a position. There aren't many computer firms or large businesses in my area, so jobs are scarce.

What areas of the country are best for finding an IT job of this nature? What type of salary or compensation can I expect? I'm interested in pursuing this career field, but keep hitting dead ends.

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