The wheels in your head are turning as you battle traffic and sip coffee on your morning commute. You enjoy your job, but you know you have the potential to do more with your career. The lifestyle you’ve always wanted is outside your means right now. You’re tired of feeling stuck and frustrated by your financial situation and your going-nowhere job.
If you’re thinking that a career in IT could change all of that, you could be right! This could give you the financial freedom you’ve been seeking. You’ve secretly had your eye on an IT career for quite some time, but you’re not sure what the first step is.
How do you get started in such an intimidating field? The answer: as a help desk technician. It may not seem like a glamorous job, but it has the potential to launch your IT career to new heights.
“Most careers in tech start at a help desk,” says Nick Teeple, co-founder of tech startup Skyline Servers. Landing one of these positions could be your ticket to a career in IT.
What will you gain from becoming a help desk technician?
Whether you call it help desk technician, computer user support specialist or technical support specialist, a job in tech support is the perfect stepping stone to higher-level IT careers. Not only can you earn a respectable salary at this entry-level position—$48,900*, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—but your experience in the trenches of customer support is just what many hiring IT managers are seeking.*
"Most careers in tech start at a helpdesk."
Not convinced yet? We connected with some IT experts to find out just how valuable this experience is. Here are three ways working as a help desk technician prepares you for the IT career of your dreams.
1. You’ll get on-the-job training
A self-motivated help desk technician can use the time between calls to network with senior technicians, learn new software and equipment and take advantage of training programs, according to Liza Daly, CTO at Safari.
Working the help desk gives you the opportunity to make the most of your position in the company. Employers know that if you can’t fix customer support problems, they can’t count on you to fix larger technology issues in the company, Teeple explains.
She urges aspiring IT pros to go above and beyond by taking advantage of the paid “on-the-job training”. Not only will you improve your technical skills, but you’ll also prove your value and ambition to your company.
2. You’ll add necessary soft skills to your repertoire
Technical experience isn’t the only skillset you’ll gain at the help desk. An entry-level position as a help desk technician will give you skills that are critical in the IT field, including customer service, communication, critical thinking and prioritization, says Randy Belbin, IT specialist at Technology Seed.
These are transferrable skills that will stick with you on your journey climbing the corporate ladder in the IT industry. “Technical knowledge doesn’t always stay relevant, but the ability to quickly research and master new challenges will never go down in value,” says Teeple.
3. You’ll become a master of customer service
Our IT experts agree that the skills you gain being fully immersed in customer service at the help desk will serve you well throughout your entire IT career.
“Effective communication, building and maintaining trust and creating win-win situations are all lessons that are learned from interacting with customers in the help desk environment,” says Sean Vogt, director of operations at Greenview Data. He says these abilities will provide great value to you and your organization throughout your entire career.
Teeple emphasizes the importance of knowing how to support your team and your employer as you advance up the IT ladder—a skill that’s honed to perfection working as a help desk technician. You’ll learn how to view problems from the users’ perspective and work effectively with a team, two skills that will be invaluable in any higher-level IT position.
Where can your job as a help desk technician take you?
Taking a help desk technician job could put you on the fast-track to a high-earning IT career. “Without taking this help desk role, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. The job allowed me to find out which areas of IT I enjoyed, to work among like-minded people and to create future career goals,” says Sarah Milligan, managing director for Elite Technologies.
Many IT companies recognize that their current help desk technicians are their future leaders. “At Safari, we actively support our own help desk and other junior technologists as they grow into more senior roles as software engineers or corporate system administrators,” says Daly.
Your job as a help desk technician could pave the way for a career in software development, computer systems administration, IT management and more according to the BLS. The possibilities are endless!
Take the first step
The BLS expects jobs in computer support to grow by 17 percent through 2022. This is your chance to ditch your dead-end job and achieve financial success in your dream career.
Now you know about the invaluable knowledge and experience you can acquire by becoming a help desk technician. This could be the first step to a long and lucrative career in IT. Learn how you can get started in as little as 18 months by earning an Information Technology Associate's degree.
*BLS salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.