How To Become an IT Support Specialist

Learn how to become an IT support specialist with expert guidance from CompTIA.

How To Become an IT Support SpecialistIf you’re looking for a fulfilling career in IT but don’t have years to dedicate to schooling, IT support specialist could be the perfect role for you. Many IT professionals start out in IT support, often in a help desk technician role, and some choose to stay in IT support long-term. However, it’s easy to springboard from IT support to another area of IT. Either way, tech support is a great place to start your IT career.

A FAQ about the IT support specialist role is “what is the job outlook like?” The job outlook for IT support roles is very good. IT support jobs are in high demand as there were more than 348,400 job postings by U.S. employers for IT support specialists from May 2022 to April 2023, according to Lightcast.

Not only are IT support specialists in demand, but they are also well paid. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for IT support specialists/computer network support specialists is $49,770 – that’s 9% higher than the median national wage for all occupations.

Ready to learn more about what an IT support specialist is, what they do and how to become one? Keep reading!

What Is an IT Support Specialist?

An IT support specialist, sometimes referred to as a technical support specialist or a tech support specialist, is an information technology professional who offers technical support in a variety of ways and contexts. They troubleshoot issues with computers and offer end-user support. They also support internal employees.

Organizations rely on IT support specialists to tackle the technical challenges end users, internal employees and other in-house IT professionals run into. Those in IT support often help develop and maintain an organization’s network systems, as well.

What Does an IT Support Specialist Do?

Primarily, an IT support specialist uses their technical and problem-solving skills to troubleshoot computer-related problems and help users with any technical issues they have. But their tasks don’t end there. Other common responsibilities of an IT support specialist include:

  • Installing computer hardware and peripheral components such as disk drives, network cards, monitors, keyboards, printers and scanners
  • Installing software and updating drivers
  • Providing customer support for technical issues
  • Loading software packages like graphic design programs and operating systems
  • Maintaining the performance of networks and computer systems
  • Configuring and troubleshooting computer hardware 
  • Managing new tickets by using computer tracking systems
  • Performing system upgrades
  • Recommending computer system improvements
  • Implementing productivity and new business software
  • Backing up and maintaining security databases

Additionally, a support technician sometimes trains new tech staff in IT best practices, new software and systems. They also work in tandem with other IT specialists, such as software developers and cybersecurity professionals, to help an organization reach its goals.

An IT support specialist’s technical skills, as well as soft skills, should support these tasks and responsibilities.

4 Steps To Become an IT Support Specialist

Wondering how to become an IT support specialist? It’s easier than you think.

1. Get CompTIA A+ Certified

The most important step in becoming an IT support specialist is getting the right certifications. With CompTIA A+, you can get an IT support specialist job with no prior experience or education in IT.

If you want to establish a career in IT, especially IT support, CompTIA A+ is for you. CompTIA A+ appears in more tech support job listings than any other IT credential. Employers use this certification to identify the best job candidates for technical support roles. Those who earn CompTIA A+ prove to employers that they have the skills needed to perform all the tasks an IT support specialist job calls for.

The CompTIA A+ certification exams cover:

  • Hardware
  • Operating systems
  • Networking
  • Mobile devices
  • Troubleshooting
  • Virtualization and cloud computing
  • Software troubleshooting
  • Security
  • Operational procedures

By earning CompTIA A+, IT pros have all they need to land an entry-level IT support role, even if they have no IT education or experience with tech support.

Having an additional, foundational IT certification such as CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+) will add weight to your resume and put you on the fast track to an IT support career. This certification is especially helpful to those who are brand new to IT and want to ensure a career in information technology is right for them, as well as attain technical knowledge. CompTIA ITF+ also lays the perfect foundation for CompTIA A+, although it is not a prerequisite.

The CompTIA ITF+ certification exam covers topics such as:  

  • IT concepts and terminology
  • Security
  • Software development
  • Applications and software
  • Database fundamentals
  • Infrastructure

If you are not sure if an IT career is for you, need basic IT knowledge and skills or want a certification that compliments CompTIA A+, CompTIA ITF+ is a good bet.

Download the exam objectives for free to see what's covered.

2. Get Active on LinkedIn and Start Networking

For any IT pro, networking is essential. Up to 85% of jobs are filled via networking. The good news is that it’s never too early or too late in your career to begin networking.

Creating a LinkedIn profile is the key to effective networking. It’s also important to be consistently active on the platform. The more connections you make and interact with, the more likely it is that the right person will see your LinkedIn profile and reach out to you with a job opportunity.

Even if you come from a non-IT background, your unique skill set combined with the skills you gleaned from studying for CompTIA A+ may be exactly what an employer or recruiter is looking for.

That’s why it’s important to list all IT job training and certifications you’ve earned on your LinkedIn profile.

3. Get Your Resume Job-Search Ready

By simply earning CompTIA A+, you will be qualified for one of the many entry-level positions in IT support that are posted each year. Once you pass your certification exams and create or update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your new skill set and career aspirations, it’s a good idea to get your resume ready for hiring managers.

Your resume should begin by stating your objective, which is to get a full-time IT support specialist job. Personalize this by explaining why you want to work in IT support. Do you want to be of service to end users experiencing frustrating technical issues? Are you passionate about ensuring an organization’s internal employees have the technical support they need? Whatever your reason for pursuing a job in IT support, make it clear in your objective or opening statement.

Here are some additional tips for writing an IT resume:

  • Use impactful action verbs throughout your resume (for example, “created,” “developed,” “implemented,” “monitored” and “supported”)
  • Include all awards and IT certifications you’ve earned
  • List your relevant or transferable skills (these can be any skills that relate to the position you are applying for, not just IT skills)

Many people in an IT support role have come from a different background than IT. View this as a strength when writing your resume and an opportunity to wow employers with your diverse skill set. Working with a career coach or resume writer can help you create a resume that gets you noticed, especially if you are new to IT.

Note that listing any job training in IT support or participation in an IT support specialist training program will make your resume shine.   

4. Prepare for Your Job Interviews

Next, it’s time to prepare for your IT support specialist job interviews. To do this right, you’ll need to know what hiring managers are looking for in IT support specialists. While different job descriptions may call for different skills and qualities in an ideal IT support job candidate, most will search for skills related to:

  • Teamwork
  • Networking
  • Mobile devices
  • Troubleshooting
  • Software troubleshooting
  • Security/network security

Communication skills and customer service skills are also important to the success of an IT support specialist. Knowledge of and certifications in cybersecurity, as well as skills related to Linux and Microsoft operating systems will make you a more competitive job candidate.

During your interviews, hiring managers may ask you how you would respond to different types of technical issues and on-the-job crises. You will need to have an idea of how you would react in these situations. Getting the perspective of a friend in IT support can help prepare you for some common scenarios.

It can be helpful to practice interviewing with a friend, colleague or family member. Also, check out online forums to get firsthand accounts of what newly hired IT support pros experienced during their job interviews.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you are ready for your job search and can apply for IT jobs with confidence.

How Long Does It Take To Become an IT Support Specialist?

If you’re looking for a career change, there’s a good chance you want out of your current job as soon as possible. Thankfully, getting into IT support doesn’t have to take a long time.

Once you get the certification or certifications you need, get active on LinkedIn and start networking. Prepare your IT resume, apply for entry-level jobs and get ready for your interviews. If you are very focused on your career goals, this could take a matter of months.

How long it will take to get hired is much more outside of your control than taking the steps to become an IT support specialist. Some organizations take longer to hire IT pros than others. If you’re applying to every IT support job that interests you, have the certifications you need and are networking, you are doing all you can do. Eventually, you’ll find the right IT support specialist job for you.

Can You Become an IT Support Specialist Without a Degree?

One of the best things about the IT support specialist role is that you don’t need a degree to qualify for jobs. Many IT job roles require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, but this isn’t usually the case for IT support roles. Check the educational requirements listed on individual job descriptions to know what different employers expect.

Do you have an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in computer science, information technology, information systems or a related field? If so, you may have an advantage over job candidates without a degree. However, don’t let your lack of a degree prevent you from taking the steps needed to become an IT support specialist.

With CompTIA A+ and a high-school diploma, you can get your foot in the door to IT support. If you have CompTIA A+, you are qualified for an entry-level IT support role, with or without a degree.

Ready to get started? Learn the skills you need with CompTIA CertMaster Learn + Labs. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today!

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