Being “the computer person” or “IT specialist” at a company is a job that requires you to deal with lots of people and always stay up to date with lots of different technologies. If you’re more of a loner who prefers working alone in front of a screen all day, software development or some other coding profession might be better for you. But if you like solving people’s tech problems and particularly like working with lots of devices, computer services is a expertise that’s needed at virtually every company on earth.
In a large company environment, a tech support specialist may be asked to fix problems that pop up with laptops, email servers, mobile devices or even the telephone system. He or she would probably be asked to evaluate the idea of buying iPads for all salespeople, to integrate a new videoconferencing system or to train employees on how to use a new piece of scheduling or sales software. It’s a job where you’ll seldom be lonely. If there’s a downside, it may be that there are some days when the IT person can get whipsawed by 100 different help requests coming in at the same time.
It is also possible for a tech support specialist to work at a helpdesk, possibly working via phone from a home office, or to travel around to various client offices helping to work out their tech bugs. Tech support specialists in some companies may enjoy a certain sense of freedom, since their work generally involves fixing a real problem and then walking away, rather than hanging around at meetings and playing office politics.
Degree or Certificate?
You can certainly get an advanced degree in computer support services, but it’s often possible to get your foot in the door for this type of job with an associate’s degree or even a certificate. You can find good quality learning at community colleges, trade schools or full-scale colleges. It’s probably a good thing if you’re a bit of a computer “geek” before you start, as it will help you quickly learn the variety of tech skills you’ll need for the work. Topics you’ll likely study include:
- Computer science courses in hardware, software and networks.
- Operating systems
- Electronic data processing.
- Email hosting and systems.
One of the best things about IT is that it’s applicable to every industry where computers are used, which nowadays means every industry that exists. If you spend time in computer services at a bank, for example, and you want to make a change, the odds are good that your skills will be very transferrable to a media, insurance, advertising or even a college or university. At large companies, there may be opportunities to move up and manage large IT teams. If you like to be the go-to person for all sorts of different tech questions, if can be a good career choice.