Updated December 2022
Most of today's companies could never survive without talented IT support specialists.
Also known as help desk analysts, IT support specialists are the first people we call when our computers don't work properly. They handle everything from forgotten passwords, lost files, and broken network connections to malfunctioning printers, software problems, and slow internet.
Without IT support specialists, daily operations would basically grind to a halt! And that's why these pros are in such high demand.
But what's it really like to work in this field? What would you actually be doing on a daily basis? And what are the pros and cons of the job?
In this post, we give you an inside look at the role of IT support specialist. Find out what this career is all about and see if it's right for you.
WHAT AN IT SUPPORT SPECIALIST actually DOES
IT support specialists are like first responders for computer-related emergencies.
First, they assess a user's description of the problem to see what level of support is required.
They then walk the user through the steps required to get back on track. In some cases, they might escalate the issue to another specialist or department.
IT support specialists commonly deal with problems like:
☑️ Malfunctioning hardware
☑️ Unresponsive printers and other peripheral devices
☑️ Network connectivity problems
☑️ Misconfigured software
☑️ Questions about how to use new software
☑️ Lost passwords
☑️ Lost files
☑️ Computers running slowly
They offer support via email, phone, live chat, online message boards, and other channels. Sometimes they provide help or training sessions in person.
Herzing College graduate David Thibodeau has been a support specialist for several years. He says every day in this job is a bit different. "I'm a technical support specialist at Natus Medical. They provide medical equipment and diagnostic and monitoring tools to hospitals," he explains.
"I train people on software and systems. I take calls from people who are having difficulty using the Citrix system or having software/hardware issues. I help people track down lost files and rebuild computers to get them up and running again. Every day is a bit different. The job is really cool that way."
WHERE do IT SUPPORT SPECIALISTS WORK?
Organizations in virtually every industry need reliable IT support specialists.
Sometimes they work in-house, as part of the corporate IT team. Sometimes they work for IT services companies that offer tech support to many different organizations.
Potential employers include:
☑️ IT services companies
☑️ Retail stores
☑️ Insurance firms
☑️ Educational institutions
☑️ Hospitals and other healthcare organizations
☑️ Government agencies
TYPES OF IT SUPPORT POSITIONS: Levels 1, 2, and 3
IT support careers are frequently divided into levels or tiers. These are based on technical knowledge and experience.
Beginners start out at level 1, which involves taking care of routine or basic IT problems.
As a level 1 IT support specialist, you have a checklist of troubleshooting procedures to follow. And the solutions you need can generally be found in the company knowledge base. If a problem is beyond your expertise, you kick it up to the next level.
Level 2 specialists handle more challenging problems and require more in-depth product or technical knowledge.
Level 3 specialists deal with the most complex issues.
Smaller companies might only have a single level of IT support, while larger organizations often have all 3 tiers.
With experience, you can work your way up the levels and qualify for more pay.
TYPICAL SALARIES FOR IT SUPPORT SPECIALISTS in Montreal
According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, user support technicians in Montreal start out making around $37,000.
The median salary is about $59,000. And the most experienced and knowledgeable specialists earn over $83,000.
In this career, your salary will grow as you gain knowledge and experience.
PROS & CONS OF WORKING IN IT SUPPORT
Every job has advantages and drawbacks. Before you decide if you want to become an IT support specialist, you need to know the pros and cons of the job. Here are some of the most common.
☑️ PRO: You get to solve problems and help people.
Resolving IT problems is like putting together puzzles. A lot of support specialists really enjoy the challenge. Plus, people are really grateful when the IT support specialist swoops in and saves the day.
☑️ CON: You will deal with frustrated people.
Nothing is more frustrating than a computer or software program that doesn't work properly! Sometimes, IT support specialists have to deal with people who are upset and angry. They need patience and tact to keep the situation calm.
☑️ PRO: Your skills will be in high demand.
The need for IT support was strong even before the pandemic. But the massive shift to remote work pushed that demand even higher.
The Job Bank says IT support jobs in Montreal grew by 53% just between March 2019 and October 2020. And demand is expected to keep growing strong into the future.
☑️ CON: Some users make the job harder than it has to be.
Some people are just clueless about technology, while others actually lie about their technical issues to avoid being blamed for screwing something up.
Sometimes, it can take some serious digging to figure out what really happened and solve the problem!
☑️ PRO: You can leave work at work.
Unlike many tech industry professionals, IT support specialists do not typically work on call. Your shifts might be at night or on the weekends, but when you're done, you're done.
☑️ CON: The job can be repetitive.
You may have to deal with the same issues over and over again. Especially when you're just starting out, you may spend a lot of your time resetting passwords or performing other basic fixes.
☑️ PRO: There are many ways to advance your career.
You can move up within the technical support team or pursue entirely new roles in programming, sales, training, or network administration. There are a lot of career opportunities in IT support.
INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN IT SUPPORT?
Your first step is to find a quality training program that teaches the technical skills employers want.
Have a look at the Computing Support diploma offered by Herzing College Montreal.
It takes just 14 months to complete and includes a seven-week internship at a local company. The program is offered in English and French.
Our students learn how to install, optimize, and troubleshoot hardware, software, and computer operating systems. They train on the latest products and graduate with real work experience.
Click below to get more program details and chat live with an admissions advisor. We're here to help!