IT support refers to technological support services which entities offer to end users of computer products or services, instead of offering training, provision of equipment or support services themselves. In simple terms, IT support provides assistance regarding particular technological issues with computer software, hardware or peripherals, instead of offering training, distribution or modification of the software, hardware or peripherals themselves. Therefore, IT support is not related to computer software or hardware itself but encompasses it.
In today’s highly technical and complex world of computer systems and hardware, IT support specialists need to possess certain skills. For instance, a network administrator must be capable of managing bandwidth, security, routing, protocols, backup and recovery. There are also web site designers who need to be skilled in HTML (hypertext markup language), design of web pages, writing HTML/XHTML codes, knowledge of various scripting languages and working knowledge of databases. There are also network professionals who need to possess the skills necessary for managing business networks. Besides, a professional IT specialist is expected to possess good writing skills in communicating with both internal and external personnel and management, especially in situations concerning disciplinary action, disciplinary issues and even customer issues.
The role of an IT specialist therefore, requires specialization. A broad knowledge of software and hardware along with a comprehensive knowledge of networking and troubleshooting techniques is therefore required. IT support specialists may work as end users or consultants. End users are those individuals who access a computer system either for home or professional purposes and consultants are those individuals who provide IT support as part of their job.
IT support specialists can either specialize in a particular field such as network support specialists, data center support specialists, server support specialists, desktop support specialists, software support specialists, web support specialists or systems integrators. There are also support specialists who work as trainers and teachers in IT departments. Most IT support specialists start out as consultants who help smaller organizations or businesses set up IT networks and then eventually move on to become full-time employees once their contract has expired.
The first step to becoming an IT specialist would be to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree at an accredited university or college. Most IT specialist positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in either computer science information technology, electrical engineering, computer information systems or IT portfolio management. A more specific type of IT support specialist job might require candidates with degrees in information technology, software engineering, network engineering, computer science or a related field. Those interested in IT support careers that require a more technical background will most likely need to attend and pass a series of tests, usually based on the particular division in which the candidate hopes to enter. These tests cover both writing and verbal communications within a professional environment as well as math, reading and science.
Part of a good IT specialist job description includes providing computer systems support for larger customers. For example, if a business buys large industrial PC equipment, it is likely going to want to hire a hardware specialist for managing the hardware needs of that company. This person is usually responsible for training employees, as needed, providing system maintenance and support for newly purchased computer systems and for training computer applications such as network security and software configuration.
IT support specialists can also provide advice for new software systems that are purchased. Often times, new software programs are a complex combination of hardware and operating system. New software can cause new problems that an IT specialist can test and help the new owner to resolve.
One IT specialist specialty that is growing in demand is that of troubleshooting any computer hardware device. Some examples include testing, diagnosing and repairing PC hardware such as computers, printers, motherboards and sound cards. A computer specialist that has knowledge of a specific model of computer hardware can sometimes be the only person who can troubleshoot certain types of hardware issues.