Desktop SupportJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

The vast majority of jobs in the 21st century can’t be done without a computer, and when employees have an issue with theirs, a Desktop Support Technician is there to come to the rescue. A Desktop Support Technician provides technical support and troubleshooting help to users with their IT hardware and software. They help get IT equipment back up and running to keep the business operating smoothly.

Strong communication skills are vital for a Desktop Support Technician, as they have to clearly provide instructions to colleagues and clients with varying levels of technical expertise about how to solve technical issues. A Desktop Support Technician can either be remote, working to support customers who have purchased particular IT products, or on-site, working to assist employees in a specific organization with their IT issues.

Desktop Support Technicians must have an in-depth knowledge of computer hardware and software to properly assist clients and users. Also, some Desktop Support Technicians are called upon to assist with groundwork, installation, and maintenance of computer equipment and other IT hardware.

Sample job description

Desktop support specialists assist internal and external customers with hardware and software issues. They may provide on-site or remote technical assistance in setting up computer hardware systems, installing and upgrading software, and troubleshooting basic IT issues. The role of desktop support specialist requires extensive knowledge of home and office systems, excellent problem-solving skills, and solid interpersonal skills. [Your Company Name] is looking for an experienced desktop support specialist. If you have experience providing exceptional support for customers with basic hardware and software issues, you might be an ideal candidate for this role.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Walk customers through installing applications and computer peripherals
  • Conduct remote and in-person troubleshooting
  • Customize desktop applications to meet user needs
  • Evaluate new applications and software patches
  • Record technical issues and solutions in logs

Education and experience

An associate degree in Information Technology or a relevant field is required for this position.

Certifications like COMPTIA A+ Certification and Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) are strongly preferred.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Hands-on experience with Windows/Linux/Mac OS environments
  • Ability to perform remote (and face-to-face) troubleshooting and provide clear instructions
  • Expertise in customer service
  • Excellent problem-solving and multitasking skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Proven work experience in desktop support
  • Excellent working knowledge of computer hardware, software, chipsets, memory modules, and peripherals
  • Familiar with popular operating systems, software applications, and remote connection systems
  • Solid PC troubleshooting experience
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Good knowledge of network security practices and anti-virus programs
  • Good written and verbal communication skills

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for Desktop Support is $44,700 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$44,450$60,150 
Los Angeles, California$50,150$67,850 
Denver, Colorado$41,800 $56,550 
Washington, DC$50,900 $68,900
Miami, Florida$41,600 $56,300 
Orlando, Florida$38,400 $51,950 
Tampa, Florida$38,750 $52,450 
Atlanta, Georgia$40,650 $55,000 
Chicago, Illinois$46,750 $63,250 
Boston, Massachusetts$50,550$68,350
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$40,200 $54,500 
New York City, New York$53,200 $71,50 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$43,300 $58,600 
Dallas, Texas$42,200 $57,050 
Houston, Texas$41,800 $56,550 
Seattle, Washington$48,650 $65,800 
National Average$38,000 $51,400 

Typical work environment

Desktop support specialists typically work in an office environment, but many also work from a home office. They will normally work 40 hours a week, but hours may vary. They may be required to work various shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays.      

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for a Desktop Support Technician are usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, remote Desktop Support Technicians could also be employed by technology vendors with 24-hour support services, so some Desktop Support Technicians could work varied shifts, including nights, weekends and holidays.

Available certifications

A variety of certifications are available for Desktop Supports to elevate their careers and improve their job skills. Here are some of the top certifications for Desktop Supports: 

  • CompTIA A+ Certification. The CompTIA A+ certification is designed for beginners and prepares candidates to install, configure, and maintain personal computers, mobile devices, printers, and laptops. They learn basic networking, PC troubleshooting skills, and various operating systems.  The CompTIA A+ program includes two exams that cover a wide range of topics from baseline security skills to troubleshooting and problem solving to configuring device operating systems for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, and others. The CompTIA A+ prepares you to work in a variety of IT positions. 
  • Google IT Support Professional Certificate. The Google IT Support Professional Certificate proves your ability and skills in wireless networking, computer assembly, program installation, and customer service and puts you on your way to landing a top-notch IT entry-level job. The program includes 5 courses, video lectures, quizzes, and hands-on labs and takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete by dedicating at least 5 hours a week to it.

Career path

Desktop Support Technician positions are often the entry-level step for people beginning a career in the IT field. Working in desktop support is a great way to gain knowledge of various hardware and software platforms, as well as develop problem-solving and communication skills. Patience, resourcefulness, and a desire to help others are considered valuable soft skills for candidates applying for Desktop Support Technician positions.

A bachelor’s degree is not often required to become a Desktop Support Technician. However, people who want to pursue a four-year degree are encouraged to study disciplines like computer information systems (CIS), help desk administration, technical support, and network administration. Some candidates can be hired as a Desktop Support Technician with just a specialized certificate in PC repair or IT/help desk support, instead of a formal degree. Candidates with industry certifications in IT infrastructure like CompTIA Server+ or specific operating systems like Oracle are often considered attractive for Desktop Support Technician positions.

Working as a Desktop Support Technician is considered a great jumping-off point for a career in IT. Many Desktop Support Technicians go on to positions as Database Administrators, IT Security Specialists, or Network Administrators. Other Desktop Support Technicians remain in the support aspect of the IT field and become Help Desk Technician Managers.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1232

2020 Employment654,800
Projected Employment in 2030712,800
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 9% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift58,000 increase

Nearly every organization has technology needs. Whether a company has an in-house IT department with its own support staff or relies on support from its IT equipment and software vendors, the need for Desktop Support Technicians will exist for years to come. However, some industry analysts see an increase in the use of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) to take care of simple support needs.

However, according to the trade publication CIO, the transition to the use of some automated help desk applications doesn’t mean that the need for human Desktop Support Technicians will go away. Instead, it could merely divert humans to doing the things humans are uniquely good at, like troubleshooting complex issues and providing exceptional customer service to users and clients.

While expertise in technical issues will always be essential for a Desktop Support Technician, soft skills like communication, patience, and the desire to help people are also of value to companies when they look to hire for this position. Many industry observers see the technical support field drastically shifting to a more customer-focused model in the years to come.

Sample interview questions

  • What are the responsibilities of a desktop support specialist?
  • What is your troubleshooting process?
  • How do you start Windows OS in safe mode?
  • Can you describe a time when you were not able to resolve a technical problem yourself? How did you handle the situation?
  • Which OS are you most comfortable working with?
  • What is the Active Directory and what is it used for?
  • What is a default gateway and why is it necessary?
  • How would you convert a hard disk into a dynamic hard disk?
  • What is the difference between the MSI file and exe file?
  • How would you recover the data on a system that is infected by a virus?
  • What is the difference between permission, rights, and policy?
  • What is the difference between incremental backup and differential backup?
  • How would you solve an issue where a user’s monitor is not working? 
  • What steps would you take to troubleshoot a system that is running very slow?
  • How does DHCP work?
  • What is the difference between reverse DNS lookup and forward DNS lookup?
  • What is the difference between serial and parallel ports?
  • How would you handle an irritated customer?
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • How do you handle pressure at work?

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