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Computer Specialists

Computer specialists, provide technical assistance to staff members and customers that use computer systems. They have an important role in any office that utilizes computers on a daily basis. One of their main objectives is to ensure that a computer system runs smoothly. They are sometimes known as help desk technicians or technical support specialists.

Since computer systems are prevalent in most types of businesses, computer support specialists are employed in most industries. They are also employed by software and hardware vendors. Many work for support services firms and help-desks and provide services on a contract basis.

Many computer specialists give assistance and instructions regarding the use of computer software and hardware. These specialists also provide help and instructions for electronic mail, operating systems and printing.

They answer computer related questions and resolve computer problems. They often use automated diagnostic programs to analyze problems. They help computer users in person, by e-mail and by telephone.

Computer security specialists are involved with planning, coordinating and implementing a company's information security system. These specialists install security software, check networks for security breaches and take action against cyber attacks. They also teach users about computer security.

Responsibilities

  • Oversee the daily performance of a company's computer system
  • Perform computer diagnostics in order to investigate and fix problems
  • Install hardware and software and peripheral equipment
  • Set up equipment for use by company personnel
  • Collaborate with personnel and managers to establish requirements for systems
  • Make minor repairs to hardware, software and peripheral equipment
  • Prepare training materials and procedures
  • Perform evaluations of hardware and software and make recommendations for improvements and upgrades
  • Train staff members how to use hardware and software
  • Perform office automation feasibility studies

Job Characteristics

Computer specialists usually work in comfortable offices or computer laboratories. They typically work 40 hours a week. However, overtime may be required when problems occur. They constantly interact with personnel and customers, thus good communication and interpersonal skills are beneficial.

They often provide support to users from remote locations. They also need good analytical and problem solving skills. Good writing skill are beneficial for developing manuals for customers and employees and for answering questions via e-mail.

Employment Outlook

Employment of computer support specialists is projected to increase by 12 percent from 2006 to 2016. Demand for their services will increase as companies, organizations and individuals use increasingly complex technology. Demand will also increase due to the demand from the computer system design and related services industry which is one of the nation's fastest growing industries.

The median annual earnings for computer support specialists in 2006 was $41,470. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $68,540. Software publishing is one of the highest paying industries for computer support specialists. In addition, computer support specialists that are employed by software and hardware firms often have good opportunities to advance in their careers.

The demand for computer security specialists is expected to grow as companies and government agencies continue to invest in cyber security to protect important computer networks and electronic infrastructures from attacks.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

The requirements for computer specialist jobs vary, however many employers prefer to hire those with some college education. For some jobs a bachelor's degree in computer science or information systems is necessary. For some computer specialists jobs candidates may only need a computer related associate degree. For a number of positions computer experience and certifications may suffice. Completing certification training programs provided by product manufactures and vendors may help some applicants qualify for entry-level jobs.

To stay current with changes in technology many computer specialists are involved in continuing education programs offered by their employer, colleges and universities, software and hardware vendors, and private training institutions.

Resources

Major Employers

Some of the major industries for employment are computer software and hardware vendors, support services firms and help-desks, finance, insurance, education, telecommunications and healthcare.

Schools for Computer Specialists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Computer Specialists Skills

Below are the skills needed to be computer specialists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening44
Reading Comprehension44
Speaking44
Complex Problem Solving3.753.25
Critical Thinking3.754

Computer Specialists Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be computer specialists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Computers and Electronics4.796.14
Customer and Personal Service4.335.06
English Language3.93.16
Telecommunications3.622.84
Engineering and Technology3.073.44

Computer Specialists Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being computer specialists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.884.99
Getting Information4.224.13
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.24.48
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge4.085.52
Making Decisions and Solving Problems3.793.89

Computer Specialists Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being computer specialists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.7
Dependability4.66
Cooperation4.42
Analytical Thinking4.38
Stress Tolerance4.25
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Computer Specialists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.