IT support engineers will never be irrelevant, because at the rate with which technology is growing and pervading our lives, there will always be a need for technical support. An IT support engineer might work directly for a business in their IT department; lots of engineers work are employed by an IT support company, who provide B2B services; and lots of software vendors have technical support staff for customers to contact.
To become an IT support engineer, one must have substantial technical knowledge, as well as a range of soft skills to support your daily duties. In this role, you will often be the first port of call for non-technical personnel experience problems with technology.
An IT support engineer is the first point of contact for customers experiencing issues. They will respond to tickets, and provide immediate resolutions to issues with the customer’s system (whether it be hardware or network issues). Engineers nowadays often use remote assistance tools to resolve issues. An IT support engineers responsibilities may vary depending on the industry they are in, and the organisation they are a part of, but their general duties include:
- Building & setting up hardware – such as computers, printers, servers, etc.
- Installing, configuring, and updating software and applications.
- Provide ongoing maintenance to an organisation’s systems and network.
- Respond to support calls from staff members or clients, helping them resolve technical issues.
- Troubleshoot and diagnose network, software, or hardware issues.
- Keep detailed records of cases – e.g. the issue and its solution.
Salary and Compensation
The salary of an IT support engineer can vary depending on the size or type of company they are working for, and the experience of the individual. However, one can expect a starting salary to be between £18,000 and £23,000 annually. More experienced personnel may have salaries up to £30,000 annually; and senior IT support engineer roles may pay up to £40,000 annually.
Career Paths / Progression
There are lots of options for profession from being an IT support engineer. As one gains experience, they can graduate into more senior roles – for example, some IT departments and companies have a helpdesk with different lines (i.e. first line, second line, third line) which respond to different cases based on severity of the issue, and priority level – with this model, an engineer will usually graduate up to second line with experience, and then onto third line.
One company we spoke with, TechQuarters, provides managed IT services London businesses pay for instead of hiring staff internally. Alongside IT support, they provide other services, like Cloud Hosting, which involves the customer working with one of their Cloud Architects. For IT support engineers working in a company like this, they may have the opportunity to pivot into a field like Cloud Computing, as they will have applicable skills, and may have demonstrated an aptitude for the type of work.
At the moment there are no formal, 3- or 4-year degrees required for an individual to become an IT support engineer. However, studying a relevant subject, such as computer sciences, or even mathematics, will definitely help you as you learn about the industry.
Alternatives to degree courses, such as 2-year diplomas, can also help individuals get their first job as an IT support engineer, and many IT companies offer apprenticeships and internships to young adults who want to get into the industry.
In addition to strong technical knowledge, and an understanding of common software, programs, and platforms is useful – e.g. Microsoft, Linux, Cisco, etc. However, if you were looking at an entry level role, you will undoubtedly receive additional training on the job. In some ways, what is more important are the soft skills related to IT support, things like:
- Customer service skills
- Lateral thinking and problem-solving skills
- Communication skills (with written and verbal)
- Teamworking skills
- The ability to work efficiently under pressure
- Efficient planning and task management skills
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