Help Desk Technician
Explore the help desk technician career path, including skills and responsibilities, education requirements, training and certification, outlook, jobs & salaries.

Help desk technicians provide support and troubleshooting for end-users who need assistance with their computer hardware or software.

There are two main types of help desk technicians: in-house and remote. Remote help desk technicians support technology customers via phone, online, and occasionally on-site. In-house technicians only provide support for internal employees.

Key Takeaways

  • The typical help desk technician education requirement is a certificate in IT support or an associate degree. Some specialized roles require a bachelor's.
  • In-demand certifications for help desk technicians include CompTIA A+ and Google IT Support Professional.
  • The job market for help desk technicians will grow by 5% over the next decade, faster than the 3% rate for all jobs.
  • The median annual salary for help desk technicians is $61,580.
Featured Help Desk Training

Compare top-rated online courses and degrees for help desk technicians and related roles.

Help desk technicians need a deep understanding of computer hardware and software. Strong communication skills are also essential, as help desk professionals must effectively relay solutions to technical and non-technical users. This career path is ideal for methodical problem-solvers with an aptitude for learning and quickly adapting new skills. Patience, resourcefulness and a desire to help others are virtues at the IT help desk.

Many IT pros begin their career as help desk technicians because of the low experience and education requirements. Then, as they're exposed to new disciplines and technologies, they discover their niche and branch out into other IT careers, such as network administrator, DBA, or IT security specialist. Other technicians will remain at the help desk and leverage their experience to become a manager.

a.k.a. Desktop Support Technician | Technical Support Specialist | Computer Support Specialist

Help Desk Skills & Responsibilities

Typical duties and in-demand skill sets for IT help desk technicians include the following. Help desk technicians:

  • Diagnose computer errors and provide technical support.
  • Troubleshoot software, hardware, and network issues.
  • Train end-users how to set up and use new technologies.
  • Backup and restore an organization's data files and systems.
  • Install, configure, and upgrade PC software and operating systems.
  • Clean and repair computer hardware, such as keyboards and printers.
  • Remote IT help desk technicians provide technical support over the phone or Web.
  • Remote help desk technicians often use specialized software to take control of users' computers to troubleshoot, diagnose, and resolve complex issues.

Help Desk Technician Salary

The median annual wage for help desk technicians is $61,580, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Here are the average salaries for help desk technicians and related jobs:

Help Desk Position Average Salary
Help Desk Technician Tier 1 $48,000
Computer Repair Technician $51,000
Desktop Support Specialist $54,000
Help Desk Technician Tier 2 $59,000
Help Desk Technician Tier 3 $67,000
IT Help Desk Manager $89,000

These are the top-paying cities for help desk technicians:

U.S. City Help Desk Technician Salary
Sacramento, CA $93,320
San Francisco, CA $83,410
San Jose, CA $81,400
Boulder, CO $77,050
Seattle, WA $74,870

The hourly wage for help desk technicians ranges from $20 to $48 per hour, depending on location, technical specialties, experience, and IT certifications held.

Explore a deep-dive comparison of help desk & technical support salaries.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Analysis of Online Job Boards

Help Desk Technician Education Requirements

A college degree is optional for most entry-level help desk positions. However, it may help you get the interview and job faster - and at a higher pay grade - than candidates without degrees. For those pursuing a formal education, degree programs in information technology, computer information systems (CIS), systems administration, and network administration provide a solid base for the help desk technician career path. If you want a formal education but don’t want to spend the time and expense of a 2-year or 4-year degree program, consider a specialized certificate in PC repair or IT support.

Marketable skill sets in a training program for help desk technicians include PC repair, network management, OS deployment and configuration, information security, desktop and mobile device troubleshooting, and soft skills like customer service and verbal and written communication.

For help desk technicians, IT certifications offer a viable alternative or complement to an accredited degree program. CompTIA's A+ and Network+ certifications are an ideal place to start, as they introduce the essential IT domains and provide valuable insight into IT infrastructure. The A+ curriculum includes a solid customer service component - a key element in today's business-focused IT job market. The next step in your help desk certification track may be mastering a popular operating system, for example, Microsoft's MCSA: Windows and MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure credentials.

With the recent advent of sophisticated online simulations and PC hardware packages that can be mailed to remote students, help desk technician training works well in a distance learning format.

Research and compare top-rated help desk training programs online and in your area.

Search IT courses and degrees by job role, technology platform, and concentration.

IT Help Desk Certifications

Marketable certifications for help desk technicians and computer support professionals may include the following:

Help Desk Technician Jobs

Your help desk technician training, certifications, and experience qualify you for a variety of job roles:

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Help Desk Technician Job Outlook

Employment of help desk technicians will increase by 5% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the 3% average for all occupations. Demand for help desk technicians will rise as organizations implement the latest computer systems to reduce long-term costs and foster a competitive advantage. However, job growth for help desk technicians will be tempered as cloud computing continues to increase the productivity of technical support solutions, thus requiring fewer hours and personnel to accomplish the same tasks.

To improve your job prospects as a help desk technician, bolster your skill set with topics like cloud engineering and cybersecurity, two of the most sought-after IT disciplines. As for specific industries to focus on, healthcare practices have a growing need for help desk professionals.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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About the Author

IT Subject Matter ExpertDaniel Greenspan is the founder and Editor-in-chief of ITCareerFinder. Working closely with IT professionals, world-class trainers, and hiring managers since 2005 has given him unique insight into the information technology job market and the skills and credentials IT pros need to succeed.