Help Desk Technician/Desktop Support Technician
Who do you call when your computer gets a virus? Who do you call when your printer won’t work? Who do you contact when you swear up and down you typed your password in correctly and you can’t seem to log in?
Not everyone is a tech wiz and oftentimes there is someone you can call or email who can provide support for your technical issue. The first person you encounter most likely has a title like “Help Desk Technician”.
There are different levels of help desk technician. These levels are based on experience, training, responsibilities, and sometimes education.
Often, entry to mid level positions do not require a bachelor’s degree. A few may require or prefer an associate’s degree. There are, however, many positions that are satisfied with either relevant experience or a certification. Customer service positions or military experience in a technical specialty can also help you meet the experience requirement for some jobs.
There are a few paths to earning certifications. You can buy a book and study at home. You can buy an online course and study anywhere you have internet access. You can even take a class or a small hand full of classes at a community college. Sometimes, the certificate of completion from your course of study is enough. Other times you may need to take an industry recognized certification exam in which you must pay a fee and take a proctored exam. Any of these routes are far less expensive than a four year degree.
Certifications Which May Help
The following list is a sampling of a few industry recognized certifications. Sometimes Certifications are necessary, sometimes they are preferred, and sometimes, they are just nice to have.
The compTIA A+ exam is usually an entry level exam and can prepare you for your first job as an IT help desk technician and it can be a stepping stone for further certifications.
The Network+ exam shows you the basics of how networks function and how to manage and troubleshoot networks. It can be taken after the A+, or if you have relevant training and experience already, you can try your luck and prepare for this certification straight away.
CompTIA has more certifications that can help you along your career path. There are many paths to prepare for the exams such as courses through Coursera, Udemy, a community college, or even a good old fashioned book. You can check out the CompTIA exams in the link below.
Google IT Professional Certificates
Google IT Professional Certificates come in two flavors. The first certificate is the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. It is similar to the CompTIA A+ certification. According to the Grow With Google site, this certification
introduces you to troubleshooting, customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, and security — all the fundamentals of IT support that are critical for success in the workplace.
The second certificate appears less IT related and more geared toward someone looking for an entry level programming job. It’s called the Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate. You would more likely be working in a field known as IT automation in which your goal is to write code that decreases human interaction with IT systems.
The training is offered through Coursera. Learn more at the link below.
Microsoft Office Specialist Certification
You can demonstrate your proficiency in individual Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more, through a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification. Each application has two certification levels, associate and expert.
Cisco is one of the largest IT companies in the US. If you haven’t directly held one of their devices in your hand, you still very likely have received some kind of voice or data service on the internet that was routed through a piece of Cisco hardware.
They do offer certifications for anyone from the entry level tech to a systems architect. You can start out with their CCT exam and get an entry level job and they provide other certifications to guide you along your career path. Check out their certifications at the link below.
Some common responsibilities, qualifications, and preferences for a sample of IT help desk jobs have been compiled and posted below.
- Answer calls
- Execute 1st attempt to solve the Service Call
- Password Resets
- Remote Desktop Support
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) Support
- Microsoft Outlook support
- Log all help desk interactions and prepare activity reports
- Identify and solve problems requiring urgent attention
- Escalate problems when necessary
- Provide internal software and hardware support
- Setting up new accounts
- Deleting accounts
- Adjusting customer storage capacities
- Granting permissions (access and privileges to make changes to data)
- Forwarding phones
- Setting up mailboxes
- Setting up and testing equipment needed for critical meetings and conference calls including projectors, TV’s, microphones, and other A/V requirements
- Familiarity with Mac and/or PC equipment
- Familiarity with apps and peripheral devices and accessories such as iPads, iPhones, Android phones, etc
- Ability to communicate technical issues into simple, easy to understand language
- Strong analytical skills
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Ability to be a team player
- Must be a self-motivated professional, able to take initiative and multi task in a fast-paced environment
Job Skills for Advanced (and Higher Paying) Help Desk Jobs
- IT support relating to technical issues involving Microsoft’s core business applications and customer line of business applications.
- Troubleshoot infrastructure solutions including routers, switches, remote access solution, wireless access points, servers, printers and desktop technologies
- Administer hosted and cloud based solution services including Office 365 and its related technologies such as email archiving, encryption, etc. as well as technologies that meet customer requirements.
- Ability to analyze existing infrastructure deficiencies and present recommendations for improvement
- Knowledge of VOIP based PBX systems and concepts
- Communication with customers as required keeping them informed of incident progress, notifying them of impending changes or agreed outages
- Utilize our Remote Management tools (i.e. Automate – formerly Labtech) to perform work on customer environments and troubleshoot higher level system alerts
- Effective use of troubleshooting tools to quickly resolve issues
- System documentation to include system reviews and recommendations
- Assist with administering and maintaining the helpdesk software; log all help desk interactions and prepare activity reports.
- Identify and solve problems requiring urgent attention, escalate problems when necessary and coordinate scheduling.
- Provide internal software and hardware support to employees/end-users.
- Administer company-wide end-user environment, i.e. setting up new accounts, deleting accounts, adjusting storage capacities, granting permissions, forwarding phones, setting up mailboxes, ordering equipment, etc.
- Setting up and testing equipment needed for critical meetings and conference calls including projectors, TV’s, microphones, and other A/V requirements.
- Research new technologies and stay abreast of significant changes in the computer industry that relate to products that can be utilized in the organization.
- Assist with physical moves/relocation of equipment.
- Perform preventative maintenance.