CHOOSING A CAREER / SEP. 12, 2014
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How to Become a Helpdesk Professional

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Helpdesk professionals offer online and offline support to customers experiencing problems with their computers. They analyze computer hardware and software to identify faults and solve them. If you are an adept problem-solver with good communication skills and a detailed understanding of computer systems, this could be the career for you.

Job Responsibilities

Helpdesk professionals work in organizations that have incorporated IT systems in their operations. Since systems are subject to failure or malfunctioning, they are needed to restore them when they fail. These professionals also work for computer manufacturers and retailers, where they provide web-based support services to customers.

Their work activities include;

  • Inspecting clients’ computer systems to identify faults
  • Advising clients on how to solve small technical problems
  • Analyzing reported computer failures to draw problem trends
  • Using web-based trouble shooting programs to help customers fix computer problems
  • Writing reports on the performance of various computer systems
  • Escalating complex problems to senior engineers.

Work Environment

Helpdesk professionals work 37 to 40 hours a week. Those working on shifts may have irregular schedules.

Although these professionals work in office settings, those working for manufacturers and retailers often travel to customer locations to fix various computer problems.

Salary

Salaries for helpdesk professionals vary with the level of job experience as shown below;

Level of experience

Annual pay

Starting professionals

£17,000- £21,000

Experienced professionals

£18,000 - £27,000

Supervisors

£30,000 - £42,000

Source: National Careers Service.

Entry Requirements

Although you could get started in this profession with sufficient computing experience, the following courses can enhance your employment prospects;

  • BTEC Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in IT
  • City & Guilds IT Practitioners Certificate
  • OCR (iPRO) Certificate for IT Practitioners

In addition to this, it is important to have some customer service experience or superior customer service skills.

Alternatively, you can enter the profession through an IT, software or web apprenticeship program. To join, you will need four GCSEs (A-C), including math and science.

Important Skills and Abilities

To be a successful helpdesk professional, you should have the following competencies;

  • Excellent computing skills
  • Good analytical and trouble shooting
  • Good technical skills
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills
  • The willingness to update your knowledge and technical skills continually.

Training and Development

Once on the job, your employer will provide training covering the company’s computer software and systems.

As you progress, you can take the following part-time qualifications to sharpen your skills and increase your competence levels;

  • Level 1 and 2 NVQ IT for Practitioners
  • Level 3 and 4 NVQ IT for Professionals
  • Level 2 to 4 NVQ Communication Technologies Professionals
  • Level 4 City & Guilds Higher Professional Diploma for IT Practitioners

The Chartered Institute for IT and the Standard Deck Institute also offer relevant qualifications for helpdesk professionals who want to qualify for senior positions.

Job Opportunities

The main employers of helpdesk professionals include;

  • Software and equipment manufacturers suppliers                         
  • IT maintenance companies
  • Colleges and Universities

With experience, you could become a helpdesk supervisor or department manager. Later on, you could use your knowledge and experience to move into careers such as;

  • Network engineering
  • Database administration
  • Technical sales.

Follow the links below to read more information on this career;

Finally, this career enables you to monetize your love for computers. With many businesses and individuals purchasing computers and other IT-driven equipment, more helpdesk professionals will be needed to keep them running efficiently. 

 

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