Help Desk ManagerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

The vast majority of jobs in the 21st century can’t be done without a computer. When users have an issue with their computer hardware or software, a the help desk is always there to come to the rescue. A help desk manager runs a team of technicians who provide support to end users for all issues that may come up. They help people get IT equipment back up and running.

Strong communication skills are vital for help desk managers as they have to clearly provide instructions to their team, to colleagues and clients with varying levels of technical expertise about how to solve technical issues. A help desk manager can work with a team focusing on the vendor side, working to support customers who have purchased particular IT products or for a particular company, working to assist employees with their IT issues.

Help desk managers must have an in-depth knowledge of computer hardware and software to properly assist clients and users. It’s also essential to have a methodical sense of problem-solving, patience, and a desire to teach and help others understand how to use their IT equipment.

Sample job description

Help desk managers supervise technical help desk support teams, track performance, and ensure a high level of customer service. They also hire, train, and support help desk representatives. Help desk managers need excellent leadership skills, strong interpersonal skills, and must be adept at handling conflict. If you have experience providing excellent technical support to internal and external customers, as well as training, supporting, and leading a help desk team, you could be the perfect fit for the position at [Your Company Name]. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Take initial telephone or email inquiries and troubleshoot and manage standard hardware, software or network problems
  • Perform remote troubleshooting through diagnostic techniques and pertinent questions
  • Determine the best solution based on the issue and details provided by customers
  • Direct unresolved issues to the next level of support personnel
  • Pass on any feedback or suggestions by customers to the appropriate internal team

Education and experience

This position requires an associate or bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, or a relevant field. Certifications like COMPTIA A+ Certification or Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) are strongly preferred.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work in a team environment

Preferred qualifications

  • 2 + years of team management experience
  • Hands-on experience with help desk and remote control software
  • Experience leading complex technology project and dynamic project teams
  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration, computer science, or related field 
  • Ability to effectively manage and mentor employees
  • Customer-service oriented with a problem-solving attitude
  • Strong technical background with excellent analytical and troubleshooting skills

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a help desk manager is $85,700 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$85,250$115,300
Los Angeles, California$96,150$130,100
Denver, Colorado$80,150$108,400
Washington, DC$97,600$132,050
Miami, Florida$79,750$107,900
Orlando, Florida$73,550$99,550
Tampa, Florida$74,300$100,550
Atlanta, Georgia$77,950$105,450
Chicago, Illinois$89,600$121,200
Boston, Massachusetts$96,900$131,100
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$77,200$104,450
New York City, New York$102,000$138,000
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$83,050$112,350
Dallas, Texas$80,850$109,400
Houston, Texas$80,150$108,400
Seattle, Washington$93,250$126,150
National Average$72,850$98,550

Typical work environment

Help desk managers typically work in offices where they spend much of their time on a computer. They also spend time supporting the help desk team, training new team members, and hiring. The work can be stressful and fast-paced much of the time. Help desk managers generally work from 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday, but they may have to work overtime on occasion as the workload demands.  

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a help desk manager can vary, especially if they work for an organization with 24-hour support services. That means help desk manager could work varied shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

Available certifications

Many institutions offer certifications that allow help desk managers to improve their skills and knowledge and gain an advantage in the workplace. Here are some of the top certifications for help desk managers: 

  • Certified Service Desk Manager (CSDM). The Knowledge Academy offers this certification for service desk managers who are looking to gain a better understanding of the help desk environment. Candidates learn essential management skills, how to integrate and promote the service desk, quality assurance, effective management of tools and technologies, and more. 
  • Help Desk – Manager. This course is administered by Udemy and provides instruction on managing, hiring, and building a team in a help desk environment. Students gain an understanding of how to hire new staff, how to evaluate staff, how to build and manage an effective team, and what the principles of IT service management are. The requirements to take the course include a basic understanding of the business industry and a basic foundation of the help desk industry. A certificate is awarded upon completion of the course.

Career path

Help desk manager positions are often the next-level step for people who worked help desk to start a career in the IT field. Working at a help desk 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 to help desk manager positions.

Though a bachelor’s degree is not often required to become a help desk manager, 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 help desk manager 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 platforms like Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) are often considered attractive for help desk technician positions. As with all management positions, leadership experience is generally preferred as well.

Many help desk managers go on to positions as database administrators, IT security specialists, or network administrators. Other help desk managers remain in the support aspect of the IT field and become directors and beyond.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-3021

2020 Employment482,000
Projected Employment in 2030534,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 11% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift52,700 increase

Nearly every organization has technology needs, and whether the organization 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 help desk managers will exist for years to come. However, some industry analysts foresee 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 help desk employees 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 technical expertise will always be valuable to a help desk manager, soft skills like communication, patience, and the desire to help people are also of value to companies when they look to hire a help desk manager. 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 is the difference between a help desk and a service desk?
  • How do you handle a frustrated customer?
  • Can you describe your worst experience as a help desk manager?
  • How would you respond if you didn’t know the answer?
  • What steps would you take with a representative on your team who was underperforming?
  • How can you improve the productivity of help desk agents?
  • What process would you recommend for ticket escalations?
  • How do you motivate your team?
  • How do you keep track of individual employee performance?
  • How important is customer service to you?
  • What would you do to boost help desk agent productivity?
  • What is your management style?
  • What strengths would you bring to this position?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What criteria would you use in hiring new agents for the help desk department?
  • How would you describe your leadership qualities?
  • How do you handle conflicts on your team?
  • How would you rate your computer skills?
  • In what ways do you think you would benefit our organization?

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