Inside Help Desk Technician Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"A Challenging And Satisfying Job...
I was surprised on how many different things I had to do. Sometimes its challenging" (IT Help; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied It at Vista in Texas; completed Certificate degree in 2011

"The Speed Of Technology Advancement...
I was surprised at how fast technology advances in such a short time. I have to continually go back and review the latest technology updates to keep up with demand." (Electronic Systems Technician; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, male
School: Studied A+ And Net + Certification at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana; completed Certificate degree in 2001

"Work Expectations Of An IT Professional...
Being in a help desk and working above tier 1 I'm surprised with the amount of time I surf the internet. When you have a well trained tier 1 group the length of time you actually have to work on help tickets is not very high." (Business Analyst; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, male
School: Studied IT at CompTIA Training in Virginia; completed Certificate degree in 2003

"Applying Skills Universally...
I was surprised about how the IT field connects to every job and everywhere. The skill which you can learn through IT classes as well as networking classes, can be applied in many different applications whether personal or business. It is always good to find cross-application of skills and software which is widely used." (It Support; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied Automotive Management at Ferris State University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2003

"What surprised me the most is how mundane the job is, dealing with the same issues happening on a different day. What would surprise others are how easy the job is in terms of learning and completing." (System Analyst; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Computer Information Systems at SUNY Institute Of Technology in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

"Working Conditions Similar To Retail...
I was surprised how much downtime there is and how there would also be really busy moments like retail. IT did not have problems consistently so as a network systems assistant I been cross train to do other things. I really enjoy the ability to telecommute which I didn't know exist." (System Analyst Assistant (Tier 3); 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, female
School: Studied IT -Telecom at Portland State in Oregon; completed Certificate degree in 2011

"Software Is Always Changing, But Lately Not For The Better...
What most surprised me is how often things break for no reason. Microsoft office 2013 is absolute garbage and causes all kinds of wonderful headaches. I'm surprised that so many applications are released that don't work, or don't work very well." (IT Support Technician; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Information Technology at Palomar College in California in 2012

"Tech Skills Are Not Universal...
I was surprised by how much knowledge I possess on IT. It was not until I obtained my career that I realized that others are not nearly as tech-literate." (IT Consultant; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Liberal Arts, English at Temple University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"People Can't Fix The Simplest Problems...
I honestly was surprised by how computer illiterate people are these days. In college, everyone seemed to know how to use and fix their computer, even the people who would seem the least likely to know how. Yet, the first day I started, I had three calls about issues which could have been solved by either simply rebooting the computer, or simply closing the program. This surprise really shaped the way I help others over the phone and in the office." (IT Support Technician; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Rowan University in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"What surprised me about my current profession is the different personalities that I would have to deal with as far as management, co-workers and clients. Also, it was very surprising when I learned that most of our clients were not computer literate. It is surprising how some people call with very simple problems that are simple to resolve." (Help Desk Technician; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied Business Administration / Computer Information Systems at NC Central University in North Carolina; completed Bachelor degree in 2003

"I Was Surprised In How Difficult It Is To Get A Relevant Job In My Career Field...
I was surprised how difficult it is to get experience in system administration tasks. Usually employers want people with experience since one screw up can take down the whole company. It is easy to get tech support jobs but I usually end up burning out and not really getting relevant experience towards my career goals. I felt like Stevens Henager did a poor job of preparing me for a career in computer science, I spent a lot of time doing non-computer related jobs since I was not qualified for computer related jobs." (IT; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Utah, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Stevens Henager College in Utah; completed Bachelor degree in 2003

"Basic Computer Maintenance...
I am constantly surprise at how little people know about the maintenance they need to do on their computers. You own a car, most people know it needs gas, oil changes, etc. People have no concept of that with computers." (Technical Support; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Louisiana, female
School: Studied Sociology at Tulane University in Louisiana in 2012

"Extra Commitment Needed...
I was surprised to find the level of extra time needed to get everything done around the office. On numerous occasions I have stayed late so I would not fall behind in my work." (Campus Technologist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Computer Electronics at Central Texas College in Texas; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Wide Range Of Skills Required...
Being in Helpdesk, you have to have excellent people skills to understand people, how they operate, and how to solve their issues. If you enjoy working with computers, and enjoy working with people - it's a great career to start." (System Administrator; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Engineering at Lane Community College in Oregon; completed Associate degree in 2012

"People Skills Are More Important Than Head Knowledge...
It surprised me how much customer service and people skills play a part in helpdesk support. Just being kind and treating people with respect will get you far." (IT Helpdesk Manager; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Networking at Coleman University in California; completed Associate degree in 2003

"What surprised me most is the lack of competitive wages, opportunities and how much I've found I hate people." (Help Desk Technician; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Montana, female
School: Studied Computer Science at MSU - Great Falls College Of Technology in Montana; completed Associate degree in 2007

"What surprised me the most is the dullness of the job. Much of the time is actually spent waiting for someone in the company to have an issue so that we can fix it. During that time, regular maintenance is done on things like the network servers and Ethernet cables, which is also a boring and repetitive task." (IT Support; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, female
School: Studied Computer Information Technology at Ivy Tech in Indiana; completed Associate degree in 2009

"Ability To Comfort Stressed Out Users...
I was surprised to find that customer service skills were important. Most of the users I deal with on a daily basis come to you for help and are stressed and frustrated and may take it out on you. You need to learn to be compassionate and patient or it will take a toll on your mental health." (IT Technician; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, female
School: Studied Computer Science at Fitchburg State in Massachusetts; completed Bachelor degree in 2004

"Ancient Tech In A Modern School...
I had hoped that the school I worked for would have had slightly newer technology as they had promoted themselves as being renovated in 2010 with new computer equipment. This however consisted of one computer cart of Macbooks. The majority of the rest of the equipment was over 6 years old and is subject to frequent failures, most of which are not caused by students and staff directly." (Help Desk Lead; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Nebraska, male
School: Studied Management Information Science at University Of Nebraska At Omaha in Nebraska; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Business And Technical Skills Are Needed...
I was surprise to find that being a Technical Assistant that you always learn new things. When working in IT, it can be demanding at times and you have to keep up to date on technologies." (Lab Technician II/Technical Assistant; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Computer Information Systems at Texas A&M University - Central Texas in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"I was surprised that I was able to utilize my degree in linguistics my current job as a phone support supervisor. By having this knowledge I am able to help other interpret and correctly help clients based on vague information." (Phone Support Supervisor; 2013)

Career: 13 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, female
School: Studied Linguistics at Montclair State University in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2006

"Helping Reluctant Customers...
I was surprised how many people I encountered when working with the public at my current job were averse to using technology because they found it intimidating and overwhelming. When I was in school, IT stuff was really pushed, but they never told us how to make technology seem less intimidating to people we work with, so I wasn't expecting that to be part of my job." (Librarian/Information Professional; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Information Science/Community Informatics at University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign in Illinois; completed Master degree in 2012

"Communication Skills More Important Than Technical Skills...
I am surprised that my education in the humanities translated into a job in the IT industry. My first job was as a Technical Writer, and I was hired just on the strength of my writing ability. Also, I took quite a few technical courses in college and these applied towards my career. Eventually, I shifted from doing technical writing to a support role." (Helpdesk Analyst; 2013)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Iowa, male
School: Studied Philosophy And Political Science at Iowa State University in Iowa; completed Bachelor degree in 1989

"Communication Skills More Important Than Technical Skills...
Most people are surprised about how difficult it is to excel as an IT Help Desk technician in a call center environment. It actually requires a lot more soft skills than technical skills. More than half of the battle is asking the right questions to obtain the necessary information to allow you to determine the correct technical solution to apply in that particular instance." (IT Service Desk; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Washington, female
School: Studied Engineering & Design at Eastern Washington University in Washington; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"People Don't Know How To Use Computers...
How incompetent people are when working with computers. I receive multiple calls each day where people demonstrate lack of basic knowledge of computer use. There are actually websites devoted to sharing "funny IT stories", and when I read them I find that most of them are believable to me." (Help Desk Technician; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Engineering at Rutgers University in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"There Are So Many Titles With Similar Job Duties...
I was surprised to find that there are many different paths that one can take in the IT field that may have similar duties as another title in the same field. For example, if you want to work hands on with a network and clients all day, you can be a network engineer, a network Admin, and even a help desk technician, as all three of these title have hands on experience working with a clients network. Also, one would find that they may like one certain title and may originally be drawn to working as a network engineer but come to find out later that they would enjoy it much more to work with Cellular phones and mobile equipment. There are just so many different titles and tasks one can do in the field and sometimes it can be surprising to find out that one minute something you like to do or think you like to do can be traded for something you love even better within the field." (Network Engineer; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Information Systems at Pasadena City College in California; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Users Have Limited Computer Knowledge...
I was surprised by how little some people know about their computers. I don't assume that the person I am helping knows anything about their computer or network." (Network Tech Support; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Ohio University in Ohio; completed Associate degree in 1995

"Certification Is Just As Important As Fancy Degrees...
I was surprised by the fact that certifications and experience seems to matter more than higher education (graduate degrees, etc.)" (Technical Support Representative; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, female
School: Studied Desktop Support at Rio Salado College in Arizona; completed Certificate degree in 2010

"Most People Don't Know How To Properly Use Technology...
I was most surprised at the amount the average person does not know about computers and technology. What has always come as common knowledge and logical to me, is not necessarily that way for a lot of people." (IT Assistant; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Information Technology at Bryant And Stratton in Ohio; completed Associate degree in 2010

"Surprise Career Path...
I didn't expect my education would take me down this path. The degree is what it took to get me in the door but the only thing that really prepared me for this field of work was years working in a retail environment. I remotely manage part of an IT help desk BPO in the Philippines that services an Australian client. The technical side is something anyone with a relative knowledge of computers can learn in a week or so of on the job training, the real challenge is keeping your calm, learning to tactfully deal with people and employing problem solving skills with limited and sometimes malformed information." (Helpdesk Administrator; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Bellevue College in Washington; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"Help Desk Support Can Be A Job For Everyone...
If you are good at customer service and have ever used a computer, you probably would be a good fit for a help technician position. I did not think I would be a good choice for the job, but I was able to pick everything up quickly." (IT Support; 2014)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied International Studies at The Ohio State University in Ohio; completed Bachelor degree in 1990

"New Opportunity...
I was surprised about all the fields that my career has to offer me, I learn to much in 3 years and I feel that I can improve much more. I really thought that I'll be stuck on an office all day, but in fact is very active work.. That surprised me." (Business And Management; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Business at University Of Phoenix in Arizona; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Help Desk Specialist: "The best part of my job is that I interact with a lot of interesting people on a day to day basis. Our company employs a variety of different people from different backgrounds and a day doesn't go by that I don't interact with a new person. I love that I get to work with computers as that is my passion. This job gives me the freedom to use my mind and knowledge to keep our customers information safe." (2011)

IT Specialist: "Best part of the job was the satisfaction I got from knowing I was doing a good job and got immediate feedback from my customers. The worst part was I could be literally and physically on-call for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." (2010)

Career Background

Help Desk Technician

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Anyone Can Learn IT Support...
If you want to be good at IT Support, you want to be good at customer service. If you have a past in retail, you'd most likely be able to learn how to be a good Help Desk Support member." (IT Support; 2014)

"Practice What You Learn And Get An Internship If Possible...
Go to a public college or university. For-profit schools do a very poor job of preparing you for a career and cost a lot more than a public school. Make sure to practice what you learn at home or in a lab environment to get relevant experience. Do internships if you can." (IT; 2013)

"Get Real World Experience To Supplement Your Studies...
If there are volunteer opportunities relating to your IT studies in your area, take on these opportunities as much and as often as you can. Volunteering for community organizations to help fix computers, create websites for them, etc. and at public library IT help desks, etc. really helped me incorporate things I learned in class to real world experiences and helped me see different ways I might be able to use my degree." (Librarian/Information Professional; 2013)

"People Only Come To You When They Have Problems...
If your coworkers come up to you a majority of the time it will be because they need you to do something. Stopping by just to say hello is a very rare occurrence." (Campus Technologist; 2013)

"Get As Much Educational Variety As Possible...
Get as much experience as you can in undergraduate school. I double majored in Philosophy and Political Science, but I started out in Engineering and those courses applied towards my career. If I had it to do over, I would major in Philosophy again for the mental discipline. I would double major in something technical to go with it." (Helpdesk Analyst; 2013)

"Certification Vs. Education...
The best prospects will be for those with a combination of certifications and a degree" (Technical Support Representative; 2013)

"Positive Interactions With Customers...
Being patient and making sure every person you work with doesn't feel overwhelmed or talked down to during your interactions. It can make working with them more pleasant and less frustrating down the road, and they are more likely to be cooperative." (Technical Support; 2013)

"Hands-On Experience More Than Education...
You should make sure that you take courses in Business as well. It pays to have good communication skills when talking to clients." (Lab Technician II/Technical Assistant; 2013)

"Universal Education...
Apply general skills in all aspects which you can in order to practice and learn." (It Support; 2013)

"Help Desk Is For Personable People...
Be ready for any situation when dealing with students, not just technology ones." (Help Desk Lead; 2013)

"Help Desk Should Only Be A Stepping Stone...
Use a job in help desk as a stepping stone to gain experience. I wouldn't recommend it for a permanent career, although it is beneficial to work with users to help develop people skills in the IT industry." (IT Technician; 2013)

"Work Hard...
Make sure you find a stable job that wont fire you when it goes slow" (IT Help; 2013)

"Things To Do While In School...
Tip 1: In college I recommend taking learning vba basics then java since it seemed more approachable. Once you master the concepts of vba then java/linux will be much easier. I recommend doing hackathons- even if you don't win. The experience on resume is really appealing" (System Analyst Assistant (Tier 3); 2013)

"Use A Help Desk Job As A Springboard...
I would recommend getting your degree as soon as possible. You do not want to be stuck working the help desk forever. No one ever calls in to compliment your product. The negativity will eventually get to you." (Business Analyst; 2013)

"Niche Fields Aren't The Way To Go...
Get your hands on every type of software, hardware and certification you have. You can't be too well rounded." (System Administrator; 2013)

"Familiarize Yourself With Your Career Path...
To make sure you are heading towards the right path or taking the most needed certifications or classes, familiarize yourself with the numerous career paths in IT and get some hands on experience so you will know exactly what it is that you want to do in the field." (Network Engineer; 2013)

"Working In The IT Field...
The pay is good. You must, ideally, keep up on rapid changes to this industry." (Electronic Systems Technician; 2013)

"Study IT On Your Own Time...
Employ independent research on your own time to garner a skill-set." (IT Consultant; 2013)

"Take Advantage Of Your School's Computer Certification Programs...
Take whatever IT classes that your school offers. If they have courses that offer A+ and Network+ certifications, take advantage of them. Those will help immensely on an application with no actual IT work experience." (IT Support Technician; 2013)

"Never Talk Down To People You Help...
Always be polite and respectful of who you are helping. Even if the solution is very clear, acting as if the problem or question is giving you a little trouble, suggesting how to fix it, rather than just telling the person, will make you seem like you want to help and are interested in them." (IT Helpdesk Manager; 2013)

"Focus Less On The Degree And More On Skills...
Make sure to take classes to familiarize yourself with managing databases. It also doesn't hurt to adopt the motto "The more you know, the better" when referring to programming languages." (Help Desk Technician; 2013)

"Be Patient With Those You Help...
If you want to be successful in IT, you have to learn to be patient. So much of the day to day work is interacting with people and their problems. They are usually stressed out and confused. Take the time to address their issues and make them feel as comforted as possible." (IT Assistant; 2013)

"Be A Sponge...
Learn anything you can about everything you can. It is very general but the thing about IT is it is constantly evolving. I've seen people made redundant in less than a year simply because they stopped working on their knowledge of the technology they work with and felt they 'knew enough'." (Helpdesk Administrator; 2013)

"Have A Backup Career Plan...
You need to have all the math classes that are offered, because trust me you will need them. Always have a back up plan in case you need it. I would strongly suggest that you get another degree in case you have to fall back on something." (Database Administrator; 2013)

"Realize Users Are Not Computer Savvy...
Not only should you develop good interpersonal skills during your studies, but you should also learn how to sum up issues simply and quickly as possible to your client/customer/user. Understand that they do not have the knowledge that you have and they most likely only know how to check their email, turn on the computer, and play simple Flash games during their lunch break. By being able to communicate these issues quickly and simply as possible, you'll be able to not only create a positive rapport between you and the user, but they'll understand much easier what was wrong with it and how to avoid it in the future." (IT Support Technician; 2013)

"Communication Skills Pivotal...
The most important skills for a support person are communication skills. If I can't communicate with the customer, I can't find out their problem, or solve the problem, once I determine what it is. Keep control of the interaction, listen, and ask probing questions!" (Network Tech Support; 2013)

"Good Job For Problem Solvers...
If you like solving problems and working in a customer facing position the Help Desk would be for you! If you prefer to work by yourself coding or working on web development working in system admin or a networking position maybe more ideal. No one calls the Helpdesk because they are happy. Be prepared to be the scapegoat for their computer problems. All ways have a smile on your face when ever you answer the phone, even when the situation is difficult the client can tell you are smiling through the phone." (Phone Support Supervisor; 2013)

"Treat Your Customers With Respect...
Be mindful that customer relations, empathy is of the utmost importance in the IT field. Must establish a rapport with the customer and be understanding of their issues and limitations. Do not speak to the customer in a condescending manner." (System Analyst; 2013)

"Real World Training...
One tip that I would give a student who is interested in a career such as my own is to make sure they do several internships to get hands on training and to also make sure that this is a job that they would not mind doing for years to come." (Help Desk Technician; 2013)

"Know What's Acceptable During Off Times...
Be prepared for long days without much to do. Since you're likely going to be in a cubicle, be sure to find out what the policy is for casual browsing on the Internet and such between tasks. You're likely to get very squirmy if you don't have much to do." (IT Support; 2013)

"More Time Spent With People Than Computers...
Many people go into this field expecting to work with computers when most of your experiences will be in working with people. Make sure to hone your people skills." (Help Desk Technician; 2013)

"Focus More On Social Skills Than Technical Skills...
To excel as an IT Service Desk technician, the most important skill to develop is your social skills. You need to be able to communicate effectively and always be respectful and friendly to your customers in order to succeed. Your technical skills is just a small part of the equation. Social skills are more sought after since it's easier for managers to give you the technical training than to help you develop your social skills." (IT Service Desk; 2013)

"Extended Work Hours...
Make sure that you truly enjoy working with computers. A lot of people think they want to work with computers, but quickly realize they don't enjoy it. The job isn't always the most exiting thing in the world and there is a lot of downtime. There are also times when you have to work long stressful hours to make sure our system stays up and running. This isn't a 9 to 5 job. I am on call at all hours of the day." (Help Desk Specialist; 2011)

"Be Patient...
You need to be knowledgeable in data center operations. It's a great help to have had experience in being a data center operator, and working with programmers and their programs, along with systems administrators. With time and trust, they will show you how to do the more routine and mundane tasks and allow you to take over, freeing them up to spend more time designing and dealing with the more pressing issues of their job. You have also be patient with other people, when dealing with your customers over the phone. They will not be patient always with you, as they have deadlines to meet." (IT Specialist; 2010)