CAREER GUIDE FOR COMPUTER SUPPORT SPECIALISTS-TECHNICAL (NETWORK SUPPORT-INSTALLATION & REPAIR)

SOC Code: 15-1041

Pay Band(s): 4,5 and 6    (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: Provide technical assistance to computer system users. Answer questions or resolve computer problems for clients in person, via telephone or from remote location. May provide assistance concerning the use of computer hardware and software, including printing, installation, word-processing, electronic mail, and operating systems.

Computer Support Specialist positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Information Technology Career Group:

Information Technology Specialist I

Information Technology Specialist II  

Information Technology Specialist III

While Computer Support Specialist within the Commonwealth are all located within the Information Technology Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Computer Operations

Electronics

Engineering Technology

Training and Instruction

SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ABILITIES AND TASKS

(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Skills
Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Support Specialist commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Teaching others how to do something.
  2. Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  3. Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  4. Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  5. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  6. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  7. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  8. Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  9. Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  10. Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Knowledge
Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Support Specialist commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  2. Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Abilities
Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Support Specialist commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  2. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  3. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  4. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  5. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  6. Speak clearly so others can understand you.
  7. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  8. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  9. Choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  10. Come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

Tasks
Note: The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Computer Support Specialist.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

Tasks

  1. Answer users' inquiries regarding computer software and hardware operation to resolve problems.
  2. Enter commands and observe system functioning to verify correct operations and detect errors.
  3. Maintain record of daily data communication transactions, problems and remedial action taken, and installation activities.
  4. Read technical manuals, confer with users, and conduct computer diagnostics to investigate and resolve problems and to provide technical assistance and support.
  5. Read trade magazines and technical manuals, and attend conferences and seminars to maintain knowledge of hardware and software.
  6. Refer major hardware or software problems or defective products to vendors or technicians for service.
  7. Conduct office automation feasibility studies, including workflow analysis, space design, and cost comparison analysis.
  8. Confer with staff, users, and management to establish requirements for new systems or modifications.
  9. Develop training materials and procedures, and/or train users in the proper use of hardware and software.
  10. Inspect equipment and read order sheets to prepare for delivery to users.

INTERESTED?

Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Computer Support Specialist-Help Desk has Investigative, Conventional and Realistic characteristics as described below:

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

LICENSURE, REGISTRATION, OR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Generally this is not required for Computer Support Specialist positions in state government.

Completion of a certification training program, offered by a variety of vendors and product makers, may help some people to qualify for entry-level positions. Relevant computer experience may substitute for formal education. Certification may enhance professional growth and career progression.

EDUCATIONAL, TRAINING, AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES 

The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Computer Support Specialists provide technical assistance, support, and advice to customers and other users. This occupational group includes technical support specialists.

Technical support specialists are troubleshooters, providing valuable assistance to their organization’s computer users. Because many nontechnical employees are not computer experts, they often run into computer problems that they cannot resolve on their own. Technical support specialists install, modify, clean, and repair computer hardware and software. They also may work on monitors, keyboards, printers, and mice.

Technical support specialists answer telephone calls from their organizations’ computer users and may run automatic diagnostics programs to resolve problems. They also may write training manuals and train computer users how to properly use new computer hardware and software. In addition, technical support specialists oversee the daily performance of their company’s computer systems and evaluate software programs for usefulness.

Due to the wide range of skills required, there are many paths of entry to a job as a computer support specialist. While there is no universally accepted way to prepare for a job as a computer support specialist, many employers prefer to hire persons with some formal college education. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems is a prerequisite for some jobs; however, other jobs may require only a computer-related associate degree.

As technology continues to improve, computer support specialists must keep their skills current and acquire new ones. Employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and universities, and private training institutions offer many continuing education programs. Professional development seminars offered by computing services firms also can enhance one’s skills and advancement opportunities.

The State Council of Higher Education lists many Virginia educational institutions offering programs in computer science on their web site: http://research.schev.edu/degreeinventory/inventory_

Association of Computer Support Specialists: http://www.acss.org provides information on computer support professions.

COMMONWEALTH COMPETENCIES

Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to: http://jobs.state.va.us/cc_planningctr.htm.  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 

COMMONWEALTH CAREER PATH

Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That’s because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth’s pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Computer Support Specialist

PAY BAND

PRACTITIONER ROLES

PAY BAND

MANAGER ROLES

4

 Information Technology Specialist I

6

Information Technology Manager I

   

7

Information Technology Manager II

5

 Information Technology Specialist II

8

Information Technology Manager III

6

 Information Technology Specialist III

   

Sample Career Path

Information Technology Specialist I

This role provides a career track for entry-level network support technicians or repair and installation technicians applying basic skills in the areas of Applications/Programming, Systems Engineering, Network Analysis, IT Analysis and Equipment and Applications Specialty.

Information Technology Specialist II

This role provides a career track for network support technicians or repair and installation technicians applying journey to advanced skills in the areas of Applications Programming/Analysis, Network Analysis, and IT Analysis and specialist level positions in Systems Engineering.

Information Technology Specialist III

This role provides career tracks for network support technicians and installation and repair technicians performing as expert in the areas of Applications Programming/Analysis, Network Analysis, IT Analysis. The first track is as a technical Consultant. The second track has Lead level responsibilities for instructing, directing, and monitoring the work of staff. These tracks can lead to supervisory responsibilities. Requires knowledge and extensive experience in computer programming. Supervisory levels also require leadership experience in the function.

Information Technology Manager I

This role provides a career track for managers in the equipment and applications specialty. They require knowledge and considerable leadership experience in computer programming.

Information Technology Manager II

This role provides a career track for managers in the field of Information Technology who has program direction with several units or sections. Directs, through subordinate supervisors, all program, operations, and staff in assigned area.  Requires knowledge and substantial leadership experience in computer programming.

Information Technology Manager III

This role provides a career track for executive director level positions in the field of Information Technology providing services to multiple state agencies in a multi-technology environment. Requires knowledge and extensive leadership experience in the functional area.

ADDITIONAL OCCUPATIONAL INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: 

O*NET (Occupational Information Network) 

http://online.onetcenter.org/gen_search_page

Virginia Employment Commission 

http://www.alex.vec.state.va.us/

Career One Stop

 http://www.careeronestop.org/

Virginia Career Resource Network

 http://www.vacrn.net/