What Does a Technical Support Specialist Do? 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Most industries need technical support specialists to keep its tech running smoothly. Learn more about what a technical support specialist does and if this field is for you.

[Featured image] Two technical support specialists are talking to one another.

Technical support specialists, sometimes referred to as network specialists, help desk technicians, or computer support specialists, keep computers and technology working smoothly for individuals and organizations. They resolve any problems and questions regarding computer systems that customers, organizations, or employees have.   

These professionals play a pivotal role for businesses, and the need for them is likely to grow over the next few years as technology becomes increasingly prominent in our lives. If you're detail-oriented, enjoy solving problems and helping people, and have an interest in or background working with computers, this may be the job for you. Read on to explore what a tech specialist does and how you can become one.  

What is a technical support specialist?

A technical support specialist handles troubleshooting and problem-solving for a business's technology systems. This role could also involve working as a tech company's customer support line and answering calls from clients. In both cases, your goal is to find and fix problems or take care of regular computer maintenance.  

Depending on the nature of your job, you might test an organization's network to ensure everything is operating properly, as well as upgrade software and hardware as needed. You'll generally work under the guidance of the technical support supervisor or a network or computer administrator.  

Read more: Entry-Level IT Support Jobs Overview: Skills, Education, Salaries

Technical support specialist salary and job outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the computer support specialist median salary in 2022 was $59,660 per year, which equals $28.68 per hour [1]. 

The BLS also reports a favorable job outlook for this field. It predicts that the need for this role will grow at a rate of 5 percent between 2022 and 2032. That growth is faster than average compared to other industries. 

What does a tech support specialist do?

As mentioned above, a tech support specialist typically works in one of two roles or a combination of both. Here are some examples of different duties depending on your role. 

  • In health care, you might oversee the network used to maintain patients' records and respond to tech support requests from employees within that health care system. 

  • If you work for a tech company, such as a company that produces software, you might work in a call center, taking calls or answering emails from customers who need help with a product. 

Tech support specialist tasks and responsibilities

As a tech support specialist, your responsibilities will vary from job to job. Because technology is an important part of almost every industry, you may find work in numerous fields, ranging from education to finance. Some typical tech support tasks might include:  

  • Answering and responding to inquiries, calls, emails, and chat messages from customers and colleagues 

  • Troubleshooting computer systems 

  • Diagnosing technological issues

  • Setting up accounts and providing access to computer systems

  • Providing training on how to use new software and hardware 

  • Solving problems or making minor repairs to computers and other technology 

  • Testing various components of a system to ensure they're functional

  • Making recommendations on how to improve an organization's computer systems   

  • Installing, updating, and ensuring compatibility of software and hardware 

Tech support specialist skills

To qualify for tech support jobs, you must possess a certain skill set. This includes technical skills, which allow you to solve problems and do the hands-on aspects of your job, and workplace skills. Workplace skills are the ones that allow you to interact professionally with customers and colleagues. 

Workplace skills

Workplace skills are important to become a successful tech support specialist. Here are some skills to master: 

  • Communication. Throughout the day, you'll communicate with customers, computer and network users, colleagues, and more. You may also have to record information about each problem throughout the day, so make sure both your written and oral communication skills are excellent. 

  • Problem-solving. You will most likely spend your day solving problems that people and organizations have with their computers. You'll need to be a critical thinker and have great analytical skills. While some answers may come easily, you may need to think outside the box. 

  • Multitasking and staying organized. You'll likely encounter issues from multiple people, so be sure to keep up with each one and solve them in a timely manner. 

  • Customer service. You’ll likely interact with many people, so listen, reassure, and prioritize their needs. 

Technical skills

For technical support specialist jobs, you'll need plenty of technical knowledge and computer-related skills. Some areas to focus on might include:   

  • Microsoft Windows and other operating systems 

  • General computer knowledge and maintenance 

  • Computer hardware knowledge

  • Mobile device knowledge

  • Knowledge of programming languages like Java and Python 

  • Enterprise operations

  • Computer and network security

  • Software maintenance and testing

  • Microsoft Office 

Technical support specialist career path

In many cases, a technical support specialist is an entry-level position. However, you may find that with experience, you can advance to a more senior position, such as a tech support manager. This career can also help prepare you for other types of technical jobs. You might go on to become a network specialist, software developer, or cybersecurity specialist. 

Read more: Computer Support Specialist Salary: Guide


The path toward becoming a technical support specialist will vary, depending on the knowledge you have and the place you want to work. Some companies may want you to have a degree, while others will not. Some will offer on-the-job training to the right candidate. 

According to Zippia, 50.4 percent of tech support specialists hold a bachelor’s degree, 31.5 percent have an associate, and 6.8 percent have a high school diploma [2]. Consider enrolling in an associate or bachelor's degree program in a related field, like computer science, engineering, or information technology. Even if the degree is not necessary for the job, it may impress a potential employer. 

Read more: Information Systems vs. Information Technology (IS vs. IT)


Consider getting certified to enhance your resume. Certain tech companies, such as Microsoft, offer certifications for their products. You can also obtain general certification from a reputable organization. For example, many regard the CompTIA A+ certification as an industry standard for basic IT knowledge. 

Some employers value previous experience as well. Working in customer service can help showcase your workplace skills, while jobs like computer technician or help desk specialist can help you highlight your technical skills. You can use certificate programs such as the Microsoft IT Support Specialist Professional Certificate as an opportunity to create portfolio-ready projects to demonstrate your skills to potential employers.

Getting started with Coursera

Considering a career as a technical support specialist? Start by checking out some introductory courses on Coursera. Offered by industry leaders, you'll learn the basics of an IT career. Consider courses like IBM’s Introduction to Technical Support or Google’s Technical Support Fundamentals. Upon completion of either course, gain a shareable Professional Certificate to include in your resume or LinkedIn profile. 

Article sources


United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer Support Specialists, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-1." Accessed October 6, 2023. 

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