CAREER GUIDE FOR COMPUTER SUPPORT SPECIALIST-HELP DESK

SOC Code: 15-1041

Pay Band(s): 3 and 4       (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-Help Desk positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Computer Operations Career Group:

Computer Operations Tech I

Computer Operations Tech II

While Computer Support Specialist-Help Desk within the Commonwealth are all located within the Computer Operations 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:

Information Technology

Administration and Office Support

General Administration

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-Help Desk 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.
  11. Actively looking for ways to help people.

Knowledge
Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Support Specialist-Help Desk 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.
  3. Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Abilities
Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Computer Support Specialist-Help Desk 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-Help Desk.  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-Help Desk 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. Certification may enhance professional growth and career progression.

Help Desk Institute Certifying Organization is an organization that certifies individuals as Help Desk Analyst (HDA): http://www.helpdeskinst.com

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 help-desk technicians.

Help-desk technicians assist computer users with the inevitable hardware and software questions not addressed in a product’s instruction manual. Help-desk technicians field telephone calls and e-mail messages from customers seeking guidance on technical problems. In responding to these requests for guidance, help-desk technicians must listen carefully to the customer, ask questions to diagnose the nature of the problem, and then patiently walk the customer through the problem-solving steps.

Help-desk technicians deal directly with customer issues, and organizations value them as a source of feedback on their products. These technicians are consulted for information about what gives customers the most trouble, as well as other customer concerns. Most computer support specialists start out at the help desk.

Due to the wide range of skills required, there are many paths of entry to a job as a computer support specialist or systems administrator. 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. Many continuing education programs are offered by employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and universities, and private training institutions. Professional development seminars offered by computing services firms also could 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-Help Desk

PAY BAND

PRACTITIONER ROLES

PAY BAND

MANAGER ROLES

3

Computer Operations Tech I

   

4

Computer Operations Tech II

5

Computer Operations Manager I

   

6

Computer Operations Manager II

Sample Career Path

Computer Operations Technician I

This role provides a career track for computer support specialist that serve as help desk support technicians. Technical work ranges from performing the most basic entry-level skills to working independently as a technician.

Computer Operations Technician II

This role provides career tracks for help desk support technicians that perform senior technicians responsibilities. The first career track is for positions that serve as a consultant and provide technical leadership and advice to address problems encountered, data analysis, and technical issues. The second track is for positions that have lead responsibilities to include instructing, directing and monitoring the work of project staff.

Computer Operations Manager I

This role provides a career track for supervisor and managers that manage and coordinate all activities of a unit with multiple projects to meet project deadlines and budgets.

Computer Operations Manager II

This role provides a career track for managers that supervise two or more functional areas or shift operations.

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/