How to Become a Help Desk Technician in 3 Steps

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn about help desk technician essential skills, relevant duties, qualifications, job outlook, and more.

[Featured Image] A help desk technician smiles at someone on a video call in their home office.

Help desk technicians are specialized types of customer service representatives. In addition to having excellent interpersonal skills, they are also technically proficient. If you enjoy working with people and technology, a help desk technician position could be a great fit for you. Read on to learn more about the role of a help desk technician and how you can become one in three steps. 

What does a help desk technician do?

A help desk technician is an information technology (IT) professional. Their primary goal is to help customers and teach users how to navigate technology properly. The title help desk technician is often used interchangeably with IT technician or IT support technician. While these roles do have many similarities, they are not the same. 

IT support focuses on providing technical assistance for complex product issues. A help desk technician is likely to help users resolve more straightforward matters, such as a forgotten password. They may escalate more complicated technical problems like faulty products to IT support. 

Help desk technician jobs

Help desk technicians can work in a variety of industries. Below, the chart explores a few of the top companies hiring help desk technicians from several industries. To determine the top companies, we looked at Glassdoor’s list of the top companies hiring help desk technicians. We further curated it to adequately represent several industries and eliminate companies with low employee ratings. Employee ratings are measured on a scale of one to five stars. They are calculated based on six categories: culture and values, diversity and inclusion, work/life balance, senior management, compensation and benefits, and career opportunities.   

CompanyIndustryEmployee RatingAverage Help Desk Technician US Salary

TEKsystems

HR Consulting

4.0/5

$40,480 per year [1]

Microsoft

Computer Hardware Development

4.4/5

$60,335-$67,031 per year [2]

SAIC

Aerospace & Defense

4.1/5

$50,687 per year [3]

How much does a help desk technician make?

The average salary for a help desk technician in the US is $42,503 annually. According to Glassdoor, help desk technicians also report an additional yearly compensation of $24,676. Additional wage insights may represent profit-sharing, bonuses, or commissions. These figures represent an average total pay of $67,179 per year for help desk technicians [4]. 

Job outlook for help desk technicians

Help desk technicians belong to the occupational field of computer and information technology. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13 percent job growth for careers in this field between 2020 and 2030 [5]. This figure translates into around 667,600 new jobs in the United States. As of July 2022, there are approximately 4,800 job listings for help desk technicians on Glassdoor [6]. 

Help desk technician job description 

Most commonly, help desk technicians study computer science, information technology, or a relevant field. An example of a relevant degree for an aspiring help desk technician to pursue is a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. In the United States, 48 percent of help desk specialists have a bachelor’s degree, and 35 percent have an associate degree [7]. Help desk technician responsibilities may include:

  • Responding to customer support inquiries

  • Helping customers troubleshoot technical issues in person or remotely

  • Offering technical assistance to users regarding the configuration, setup, and maintenance of products

  • Redirecting unresolved issues to the appropriate teams

  • Maintaining documentation of problems and processes

  • Training end-users in security practices

Essential skills checklist for help desk technicians

A help desk technician must possess workplace skills in addition to their technical knowledge. The checklist below outlines a few of the most important skills from each category:

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Customer service experience

  • Strong understanding of operating systems, software, and devices

  • Patience

  • Verbal and written communication skills

How to become a help desk technician in 3 steps

If you haven’t yet mastered all of the above skills, don’t worry. You can gain the qualifications you need to become a help desk technician with the following walkthrough. 

1. Build your skill set.

You may already have some qualifications to become a help desk technician today. For example, suppose you are transitioning from a food and beverage industry role, such as a server or a general manager. In that case, you likely already have excellent people skills. Your focus should be on building technical expertise. In contrast, someone who is technically proficient but without experience in customer service should focus on building their communication skills. You can work on both simultaneously with a foundational online course like Google’s Technical Support Fundamentals.

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2. Enhance your resume. 

Enhancing your resume is a crucial step for any job seeker to take. One way to demonstrate your expertise on a resume is to earn professional certifications from industry experts in your desired field. For instance, IBM offers a Technical Support Professional Certificate that you can use to gain vital IT skills and experience. Additionally, those who complete this certification course receive an IBM digital badge and access to exclusive job placement resources. 

To ensure your resume gets noticed by recruiters, match your language to the language employers use in their job listings. Employers often use applicant tracking systems (ATS). These systems allow them to quickly process applicants by filtering out applications and resumes that don’t contain chosen keywords. You have a better chance of being selected if your wording matches the keywords employers input in their ATS. You can read about nine more ways to enhance your resume with the article below.

Read more: 10 Ways to Enhance Your Resume

3. Stay current.

Tech professionals need to stay current with the latest trends and technologies. Following the activity of industry leaders on social media or YouTube can be an effective way to keep up-to-date. This practice can help you discover in-demand skills employers are currently interested in. You can also join relevant communities and forums to connect with other professionals in your industry. 

Start today with Coursera.

You can take your first step toward becoming a help desk technician with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.

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This is your path to a career in IT. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.

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Article sources

1. Glassdoor. “TEKsystems Help Desk Technician Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/TEKsystems-Help-Desk-Technician-Salaries-E23297_D_KO11,31.htm.” Accessed June 22, 2022.

2. Glassdoor. “Microsoft Help Desk Technician Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Microsoft-Help-Desk-Technician-Salaries-E1651_D_KO10,30.htm.” Accessed June 22, 2022.

3. Glassdoor. “SAIC Help Desk Technician Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/SAIC-Help-Desk-Technician-Salaries-E41130_D_KO5,25.htm.” Accessed June 22, 2022. 

4. Glassdoor. “How much does a Help Desk Technician make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/help-desk-technician-salary-SRCH_KO0,20.htm.” Accessed July 1, 2022. 

5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer and Information Technology Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm.” Accessed July 1, 2022.

6. Glassdoor. “Help desk technician jobs, https://www.glassdoor.com/Job/us-help-desk-technician-jobs-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,23.htm.” Accessed July 1, 2022. 

7. Zippia. “Help Desk Specialist Education Requirements and Degrees, https://www.zippia.com/help-desk-specialist-jobs/education/.” Accessed June 22, 2022. 

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