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Working in IT Support

Working in IT support involves monitoring and maintaining the computer systems and networks in an organisation. IT support officers install and configure computer systems, diagnose hardware / software faults and solve technical problems.

Qualifications
You do not necessarily need any formal qualifications to secure a job in IT support, but having a degree or a foundation degree in the following subjects is advantageous:

  • Business information technology
  • Business systems engineering
  • Computer networking and hardware
  • Computer science
  • Computer software development
  • Information technology
  • Software engineering

If you do not have any formal qualifications, then it is sometimes possible to start as a trainee IT support technician through an apprenticeship scheme in engineering, electronics or information technology. Some employers will also hire candidates on the basis that they have good technical working knowledge of computer systems. Often candidates can build upon their IT knowledge at home by reading and using practical applications.

Skills and knowledge
Although some employers seek an IT-related qualification or appropriate work experience, some employers also look for candidates who have in-depth knowledge of the programs and packages they use. These may include Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco technologies. There are many IT support jobs based on Windows and MS Office knowledge.

Employers also look for the following attributes:

  • Good problem solving skills
  • The ability to communicate problems and solutions to non-technical staff
  • The ability to work under pressure
  • The ability to prioritise
  • Good memory of how software and operating systems work
  • Attention to detail
  • An awareness of electrical health and safety regulations

Working in IT support is often a good starting point for anyone looking to move into and gain experience in other aspects of IT work.

Typical work activities

  • Installation, configuration and maintenance of computer systems
  • Troubleshooting and problem solving
  • Running network applications to support systems and end users
  • Setting up new users and modifying existing users
  • Conducting electrical safety checks on computer equipment
  • Providing support documentation, including procedural documentation
  • Providing feedback to departments

Career opportunities
There is a need for IT support technicians in nearly all industries. Most companies of a reasonable size using an IT system will have a requirement for in-house technical support. There are also many IT support agencies who provide outsourced IT support to SME’s in the UK.

With sufficient experience, IT support officers can move into supervisory roles or into related areas such as network engineering, IT security or training. Additionally IT support roles provide a good “foot in the door” into many companies and there are then plenty of further IT opportunities and career development.

Salary and benefits

  • Salaries range from £17,000 to £20,000 for new entrants
  • The average salary in the UK for IT Support is £33,065, which has risen 11.50% on the same period last year.