Computer support specialists provide technical assistance to people and organizations that use computers. To become a computer support specialist requires extensive computer knowledge and experience. At least a high school education normally is expected, and an associate's degree or bachelor's degree often is desired by employers. Fields of college study that will help you prepare for this career include information technology, computer science or even non-computer-related subjects, if you have the requisite computer experience. If you don't have a college degree, completion of a certificate program in computer support, computer programming or a similar area through a vocational school or community college might help you find work as a computer support specialist.
If you still are in high school, you can do several things to work toward your goal of becoming a computer support specialist. To gain computer experience, take advantage of all of the computer courses that your school offers. Sign up for computer camps during summer and other school breaks. Take advanced math courses to help you develop problem-solving abilities. Language arts courses will help develop reading and writing skills, which also are important if you want to become a computer support specialist.
If you pursue a college degree program, look for one that offers internships, which will provide real-world experience and possible contacts for later employment. No matter whether you pursue higher education, passing of a certifying test that demonstrates your computer abilities, such as that offered by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), for example, can greatly enhance your credibility with employers. You also can look for software, hardware, networking and other certificates offered by computer vendors that show your expertise in their particular products.
Important skills for working as a computer support specialist include strong problem-solving and troubleshooting abilities. The ability to explain technical concepts to sometimes non-technical computer users and make yourself understood is important. Having patience and a strong customer-service orientation is key in this job, because you will have to assist people who might be frustrated or otherwise upset because of computer problems. Good in-person and telephone communication skills will help you when you become a computer support specialist. Writing ability to communicate effectively via e-mail, as well as to prepare user guides, manuals and other computer documentation, also is helpful if you want to become a computer support specialist.
When seeking employment as a computer support specialist, highlight your computer experience and any specialty areas on your résumé. List your degree if you have one, as well as any certificates you have gained. If you know another language, be sure to highlight it on your résumé, because knowing another language can open many doors in an increasingly global business world.