Are IT Help Desk Jobs Worth It? Expert Insight Into These Entry-Level Roles
There is no doubt that your future is going to be in the IT industry. You’ve always been gifted with technology, and the biggest question you have now is how to position yourself in the best way possible for success. You’ve probably seen IT companies with openings in help desk roles, so you’re left with a handful of questions: Is a help desk job a good starting point for me? What are the benefits of having this experience? Is it possible to do this while still pursuing an education?
We are here to help you answer those questions. We’ve asked tech pros who started their careers at an IT help desk whether their experience got them where they wanted to go and whether they thought the job was worthwhile.
Is working in an IT help desk job worth my time?
While the crux of this answer can be subjective based on your specific career goals, we’ve asked various IT experts for their input—and many answered with a resounding “Yes!”
Many of today’s IT professionals working in advanced and specialized roles began working at an IT help desk. Chris Ciabarra, CTO and co-founder of Athena Security, says his help desk job helped him hone the skills he would need to change the course of his career. “This made me the person I am now,” Ciabarra says. “While working at the help desk, I got promoted to client services. From there, another promotion to network engineering.” Eventually, Ciabarra started a company that quickly thrived, and his experience at the help desk was an essential part of that.
Another reason to consider an IT help desk job is that working at various levels of a company can give you unique insight into company operations. “I can draw a direct line between the support I was doing early in my career to my current leadership role,” says Eric LeeShanok, president of LeeShanok Network Solutions. “My experience coming from the ‘bottom-up’ doing help desk support has meant that I can lead our teams with experience and empathy.”
The daily skills you refine in this role can be a huge future asset. “It gave me experience working with customers and dealing with problems,” says Marcus Nielsen, editor in chief at LaptopBlogger. For Nielsen, the customer-facing aspects of the job helped him better problem solve, become better organized and showcase customer service skills on his resume. “Overall, I think being a help desk employee has been beneficial for my career, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an entry level position or someone who wants to improve their customer service skills.”
In summation, our various IT experts greatly valued their experiences at help desk jobs. “I’ve always touted that help desk is a phenomenal intro to technology,” says David Worley, site lead at Beyond20. “It doesn’t have to be the intro, but it is the intro for many, and it helps to lay a great foundation of experience and knowledge.”
What are the biggest benefits of working an IT help desk job?
If that sounds pretty good so far, let’s get more granular. Here are five specific benefits our experts highlighted in working a help desk job.
1. It can help you find your IT niche
When doing a help desk job, you are going to experience a wide array of issues and interact with various departments. With this huge swath of experience, Worley notes that “You can always seize opportunity to drill down and master something that you can use to pivot to a more specialized role.”
2. Direct experience working with clients
Working a help desk job means lots of direct interactions with customers. While there are IT jobs that are less people facing, the one-on-one customer time will help develop you as an employee long term. Nielsen credits his direct experience working with customers as something that was “really helpful when applying for jobs in the future because it shows that I have good customer service skills.”
3. Development of problem-solving skills
One huge aspect of a help desk role is having to think on your feet.
“In those early days, I learned a lot from the tickets coming through the help desk,” says Leeshanok. “The next ticket could be a routine password reset, or it could have been a broken server where I needed to quickly learn a new brand or new technology.” The more problems you face, the more capable you will be to solve new ones.
4. They’re a great first step toward higher aspirations
Help desk jobs are going to interact with all facets of a company, and if you are able to do your job well with good customer feedback, your name may begin to stand out with your bosses. Worley describes this exact experience. “As a help desk employee, I evolved from a novice all the way through to advanced senior leadership roles, to include senior tech, tech supervisor, help desk supervisor and service desk manager roles.”
5. Experience on your resume
If nothing else, help desk jobs are great resume builders. Future employers know the kind of work that goes into operating a help desk. This role is going to naturally highlight customer service, a wide variety of experience with tools and systems, your problem-solving skills and other important abilities that tech companies want in their hires.
Plus, when interview time comes, being able to tell anecdotes about your help desk days in future job interviews can be a great way to show an employer how you respond to pressure or show empathy.
How should I pick a help desk job?
If you are sold on the idea of finding some kind of help desk job, the natural next question is “Which one?” Our experts recommend using a little bit of discretion in selecting a help desk job, as this can be a great opportunity to get in with a company you like.
“I would start out in a help desk inside of a company you wish to grow in,” says Ciabbra. “This will help you get to know the business from so many angles. You get to experience problems first hand from all departments in the organization.”
Take your time and do some research. Start with companies you may be interested in working for one day to see what may be available.
IT help desk jobs can be a great starting point to your career
As you can see from the experts above, there are many potential benefits to starting your IT career as a help desk employee. Whether it is direct experience in problem solving with customers, the flexibility to work these jobs while getting an education or just getting a foot in the door at a company that interests you, help desk jobs are a great way to set a solid foundation for your burgeoning IT career.
If you’re looking for a solid education option for building the foundational IT skills needed for a help desk role, check out the Rasmussen University IT Support Certificate program. This fully online program will prepare you to sit for key industry certification in as few as six months!1,2
1Completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
2Rasmussen University will reimburse you any out-of-pocket costs of the application fee for each first attempt of up to three designated industry certification exams for which you qualify. Should you need to take an exam more than once to receive a passing grade score, you will be responsible for all subsequent exam application fees. Rasmussen University will provide practice exams and materials when available.