Help desk technicians provide instructions and troubleshooting assistance for those using computer systems or software. Technicians may work directly for software or hardware companies or on a contractual basis for a variety of organizations. They may be responsible for solving technical problems, answering questions regarding software, running diagnostics programs as well as responding to any other generally-related customer inquires. A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field is generally recommended for those seeking to become a help desk technician. Some companies also may require specialized certifications.
It is typically easier to become a help desk technician if one has completed a four-year degree. Bachelor’s degrees in computer science, information systems or engineering are all suitable choices for training as a technician. A degree can provide technicians with strong computer knowledge and problem solving skills. Formal education may also provide an advantage for negotiating salary and advancement.
Some employers may hire candidates who do not have a degree or certification, but some level of computer expertise is generally expected. Professionals with backgrounds in customer service, software and hardware sales or electronics repair may also be seen as assets to employers. Those without specifically related training or degrees should expect to begin as an entry-level employee and may have fewer advancement opportunities.
Work experience and technical knowledge typically are highly valued in this field, and possessing either may be a successful means of gaining entry-level employment. Certification programs for a particular type of hardware or software may also be useful to those seeking to become a help desk technician. Some companies may offer on-the-job training, but prior hardware or software knowledge is generally required. Technical and vocational schools may offer computer specialist and information systems certificates or associates degrees, which may also be helpful to those who have not completed a four-year degree.
Most help desk technicians are also required to undergo specific company training once they have been hired. Training may take several months to complete, and there are usually continuing education requirements as well. Many help desk technicians are required to complete additional training sessions as technology changes or hardware and software components and programs are updated.
To become a help desk technician and be successful in the field, strong customer service skills are normally required. Technicians interact with many different people throughout the course of a day and should be able to maintain a certain level of professionalism. The ability to communicate technical information to non-technical customers can also be valuable skill for a help desk technician.