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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe6GS8kSN1g.
Quick Facts: Computer Support Specialists
2021 Median Pay $57,910 per year
$27.84 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2020 844,600
Job Outlook, 2020-30 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 72,200

What Computer Support Specialists Do

Computer support specialists maintain computer networks and provide technical help to computer users.

Work Environment

Most computer support specialists work full time. Because computer support services may need to be available 24 hours a day, some specialists work nights or weekends.

How to Become a Computer Support Specialist

Entry requirements vary for computer support specialists. Network support specialists typically need an associate’s degree, and user support specialists typically need to complete some college courses. However, candidates may qualify with a high school diploma plus relevant information technology (IT) certifications.

Pay

The median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $62,760 in May 2021.

The median annual wage for computer user support specialists was $49,770 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of computer support specialists is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 70,400 openings for computer support specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for computer support specialists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of computer support specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about computer support specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Computer Support Specialists Do About this section

Computer support specialists
Network support specialists analyze, troubleshoot, and maintain computer networks.

Computer support specialists assist computer users and organizations. These specialists either maintain computer networks or provide technical help directly to computer users.

Duties

Computer network support specialists typically do the following:

  • Test and evaluate existing network systems
  • Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks operate correctly
  • Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Internet systems

Computer network support specialists analyze and troubleshoot computer network problems. They have an important role in the daily, weekly, or monthly maintenance of their organization’s networks. This maintenance may be routine or part of the organization’s disaster recovery efforts. Network support specialists also may assist computer users through phone, email, or in-person visits. They often work under the direction of network and computer systems administrators, who handle more complex tasks.

Computer user support specialists typically do the following:

  • Analyze customers’ computer problem to diagnose it and determine the cause
  • Document customers’ descriptions of their computer problems
  • Guide customers through the recommended problem-solving steps
  • Set up or repair computer equipment and related devices
  • Install and train users on new hardware or software
  • Inform team members and managers of major problems or of customers’ recurring concerns

Computer user support specialists, also called help-desk technicians, usually provide technical help to non-IT computer users. They respond to requests for help in a number of ways, such as in person or by phone, online chat, or email.

Help-desk technicians solve a range of problems that vary with the industry and the particular firm. Some technicians work for large software companies or for support service firms and instruct business customers in the use of business-specific programs, such as an electronic health records program used in hospitals or physicians’ offices.

Other help-desk technicians work in call centers and take customers through a problem step by step, such as to reestablish an Internet connection or to troubleshoot Wi-Fi routers or other household IT products.

Work Environment About this section

Computer support specialists
Computer support specialists work for a variety of industries.

Computer network support specialists held about 189,800 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of computer network support specialists were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 20%
Telecommunications 12
Finance and insurance 8
Management of companies and enterprises 6
Data processing, hosting, and related services 3

Computer user support specialists held about 654,800 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of computer user support specialists were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 23%
Educational services; state, local, and private 12
Management of companies and enterprises 5
Software publishers 4
Temporary help services 3

Some computer support specialists are able to telework. Others must be onsite or may need to travel to clients’ locations.

Work Schedules

Most computer support specialists work full time. Because computer support services may need to be available 24 hours a day, some specialists work nights or weekends.

How to Become a Computer Support Specialist About this section

Computer support specialists
Communication skills are important for computer support specialists.

Entry requirements vary for computer support specialists. Network support specialists typically need an associate’s degree, and user support specialists typically need to complete some college courses. However, candidates for either type of position may qualify with a high school diploma plus relevant information technology (IT) certifications.

Education

Education requirements for computer support specialists vary. Computer user support specialist jobs require some computer knowledge but not necessarily a college degree. Applicants who have taken courses in areas such as networking, server administration, and information security may qualify for these jobs. For computer network support specialists, employers may accept applicants who have an associate’s degree, although some prefer that applicants have a bachelor’s degree.

Large software companies that provide support to business users who buy their products or services may require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. Positions that are more technical are likely to require a degree in a field such as computer and information technology or engineering. For others, the applicant’s field of degree is less important.

To keep up with changes in technology, computer support specialists may need to continue their education throughout their careers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification programs are generally offered by vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge of and best practices required by computer support specialists. Companies may require their computer support specialists to hold certifications in the products the companies use. Other types of certifications, such as CompTIA A+, may be a helpful starting point for workers seeking entry into the occupation.

Advancement

Many computer support specialists advance to other information technology positions, such as information security analysts, network and computer systems administrators and software developers. Some become managers in the computer support services department. Some organizations provide paths for support specialists to move into other parts of the organization, such as sales.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Computer support specialists must clearly convey information, both orally and in writing. They must describe solutions to computer problems in way that nontechnical users can understand.

Customer-service skills. Computer support specialists must be patient and sympathetic. They often help people who are frustrated trying to use software or hardware.

Listening skills. Support workers must be able to understand the problems that their customers are describing and know when to ask questions for clarification.

Problem-solving skills. Support workers must identify both simple and complex computer problems and then analyze and solve them.

Pay About this section

Computer Support Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Computer occupations

$97,430

Computer network support specialists

$62,760

Computer support specialists

$57,910

Computer user support specialists

$49,770

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $62,760 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,560, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,410.

The median annual wage for computer user support specialists was $49,770 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,220, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $91,060.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for computer network support specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Telecommunications $76,910
Finance and insurance 74,920
Management of companies and enterprises 66,500
Data processing, hosting, and related services 62,460
Computer systems design and related services 61,390

In May 2021, the median annual wages for computer user support specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Software publishers $59,830
Management of companies and enterprises 58,430
Computer systems design and related services 48,540
Educational services; state, local, and private 48,530
Temporary help services 46,680

Most computer support specialists work full time. Because computer support services may need to be available 24 hours a day, some specialists work nights or weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Computer Support Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Computer occupations

13%

Computer user support specialists

9%

Computer support specialists

9%

Total, all occupations

8%

Computer network support specialists

7%

 

Overall employment of computer support specialists is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 70,400 openings for computer support specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

More support services will be needed as organizations upgrade their computer equipment and software. Computer support staff will be needed to respond to the installation and repair requirements of increasingly complex computer equipment and software. However, a rise in cloud computing could increase the productivity of computer support specialists, slowing their growth at many firms. Smaller businesses that do not have information technology (IT) departments will contract services from IT consulting firms and increase the demand for computer support specialists in those firms.

Employment growth also may come from demand for IT support services from healthcare industries. As this field continues to increase its use of IT, support services will be crucial to keep everything running properly.

Employment projections data for computer support specialists, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Computer support specialists

15-1230 844,600 916,800 9 72,200 Get data

Computer network support specialists

15-1231 189,800 204,000 7 14,200 Get data

Computer user support specialists

15-1232 654,800 712,800 9 58,000 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of computer support specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Computer and information systems managers Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.

Bachelor's degree $159,010
computer network architects image Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Bachelor's degree $120,520
Computer programmers Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write, modify, and test code and scripts that allow computer software and applications to function properly.

Bachelor's degree $93,000
Computer systems analysts Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and design ways to improve efficiency.

Bachelor's degree $99,270
Customer service representatives Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and answer questions.

High school diploma or equivalent $36,920
Database administrators Database Administrators and Architects

Database administrators and architects create or organize systems to store and secure data.

Bachelor's degree The annual wage is not available.
Network and computer systems administrators Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.

Bachelor's degree $80,600
Information security analysts Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Bachelor's degree $102,600
Web developers Web Developers and Digital Designers

Web developers create and maintain websites. Digital designers develop, create, and test website or interface layout, functions, and navigation for usability.

Bachelor's degree The annual wage is not available.

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about computer support specialists, visit

Association of Support Professionals

Help Desk Institute (HDI)

Technology Services Industry Association

For more information about computer careers, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

Computing Research Association

Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)

IEEE Computer Society

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

O*NET

Computer Network Support Specialists

Computer User Support Specialists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Support Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm (visited August 02, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Monday, April 18, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.