If you believe the cliché, working in IT is all about turning computers on and off and keeping people waiting on the phone. But it's so much more than that, we promise.
So if friends and family go to you when they're having trouble with technology and if you're a logical person with excellent problem-solving skills, then you may be the perfect candidate for working in technical support.
So, what will I actually be doing?
You'll be part of the IT crowd if you work in a technical support job or as a helpdesk operator, so you’ll be monitoring and maintaining the computer systems as well as the networks within an organisation.
You’ll be at the very busy front-line, dealing directly with employees or customers who have technical issues such as forgotten passwords, viruses or email issues. Tasks may include:
- Installing and configuring computer systems
- Diagnosing and solving hardware/software faults
- Logging customer/employee queries
- Analysing call logs to spot trends and underlying issues
With many doors open to you, there's plenty of opportunities and varied roles available, so you'll never be bored or feel like you're stuck in a dead-end job.
So whether you fancy working for software or equipment suppliers providing after-sales support, or specialising in providing IT maintenance, or even working in-house, supporting the rest of the business with their ongoing IT requirements, the sky is the limit.
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The nitty gritty
Your working hours will change depending on your job. If you’re solving customer issues you’re likely to be working shifts on a helpdesk. If you’re supporting employees then normal office hours generally apply and you’re unlikely to face pressure to do more.
In terms of career progression, you can get promoted to senior technical support, and from there to a team, section or department leader. Technical support is also a good way in for many IT jobs, such as programming, technical sales or systems administration.
Money, money, money
A typical starting salary for technical support roles ranges from £15k to £21k. As a technical support manager with 10 to 15 years of experience you could bring home up to £47k.
See what people are earning in this job
The good points...
"It’s a good way to get to know people in other parts of the business. It’s a pretty low pressure role too: the hours are regular and when you’re trying to solve a technical issue for someone, they can’t know how long it should take to get fixed, which has its advantages!," says ex-BBC IT support employee Charlotte Gonella.
...and the bad
""It’s not the cleanest job! IT support staff often have to use other people’s filthy equipment – keyboards are the worst. I also had to spend a lot of time crawling around under people’s desks."
Is there study involved?
You can start training to work in a technical support role straight from school if you have good GCSE grades in English, Maths and IT or Science. Or, give yourself the competitive edge with a computing course, such as:
- BTEC (Edexcel) National Certificate and Diploma IT Practitioners
- City & Guilds (E-Quals) IT Practitioners Certificate and Advanced Diploma
- OCR (iPRO) Certificate for IT Practitioners.
Ongoing training is a good idea to keep up with new technology. If you have a degree in a computing subject, you could enter a graduate trainee scheme; you'll receive a high standard of on-the-job training and you can look forward to swiftly moving up the ranks.
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
- Able to talk about technology in simple terms
- A logical thinker
- An excellent problem solver with strong analytical skills
- Like to keep up to date with the latest technology. (if you don't know your Ipod from your Ipad, then it's time to swot up)
...then you're perfect for the role. But it’s not all about being good with computers – customer service and interpersonal skills are just as important, so personality still counts.