IT support refers to support services that commercial entities offer to consumers of information technology products or services, typically through electronic means. In essence, IT support provides technical assistance in terms of troubleshooting, diagnosis, configuration, maintenance or upgrading of hardware, software, data, imaging or communication devices. Computer basic maintenance services comprise computer networking, memory, storage and hard drive maintenance. Computer support specialists may also provide assistance with issues that pertain to security, network connectivity and information technology policy.
There are three support tiers in Information Technology that address common IT support needs. The first tier, desk support, provides assistance with specific computer problems such as installation, software upgrading and maintenance, router installation and security updates. Desk support personnel typically have IT experience and are skilled at managing a variety of IT related issues. In addition, they can troubleshoot hardware problems or identify and resolve data errors.
The second tier is the support specialist, who most likely will need specialized training to perform the job. Specialized training for these positions requires an associate’s degree in computer systems or communications. Those who complete this level of training are likely to be eligible for lower paying clerical or telemarketing positions in businesses. Employees at this level typically manage the day-to-day technical needs of a company. IT support specialists use specialized tools to resolve software errors and resolve physical issues in computer systems.
The third type of IT support team member is the managed service provider. A managed service provider is not trained in diagnosing or fixing computers, but rather is responsible for providing technical support in accordance with the provider’s contract with an organization. Managed service providers typically provide support for basic computer systems, including antivirus and anti-spyware applications. Computer technicians who are hired as a managed service provider are often trained onsite by an organization. In some companies, support team members may be trained on call by a consultant or a technician who works for the organization.
The final and highest ranked IT support specialist level is the troubleshooting specialist. Troubleshooting support specialists are required in every industry, including consumer, small business, and large business. These support specialists are usually employed in call centers or by companies that sell computer systems to consumers. They perform troubleshooting activities such as restoring a computer system to its previous configuration, correcting hardware errors, and resolving network problems. While a troubleshooting specialist has many duties and responsibilities, he or she is primarily required to resolve problems that consumers may be having with their computers.
IT support specialists must also possess certain skills. To become a good IT specialist, it is important to understand how networks work, understand networking technology, and possess excellent typing and communication skills. A supporting specialist also needs to be good at troubleshooting, and must be able to describe their problem to a client in detail. IT support specialists must also be able to follow detailed instructions, and understand the impact of their computer system on a customer’s business. When IT support specialists complete their training courses, they will have a number of options available to them.
Many IT support specialists start their careers working as network technicians and are hired to maintain the company’s networks. Networking specialists are required to know how to troubleshoot, configure, and secure servers, as well as how to make the most of the bandwidth and network resources. Business intelligence specialists are required to learn about new technologies such as enterprise resource planning software and business intelligence tools. Business intelligence specialists are also required to understand current trends in business that could affect IT costs and sales. Computer support specialists could also choose to specialize in a particular area of IT support, such as antivirus support, application support, e-mail security, or networking.
IT support specialists who choose to specialize may find it more efficient to begin by specializing in one skill set, such as managing servers or managing network environments. If IT support specialists decide to specialize in a particular skill set, they should begin by determining what qualities they will need to learn in order to perform the job well. They may want to take courses that focus on the particular subject they wish to specialize in, or they may want to attend seminars to get a better understanding of current professional practices. In either case, IT support specialists will need to work hard to convince a potential employer that their experience meets the required qualification standards.