Desktop Support as a Long-Term Career? Yes or No? Why?
March 22, 2017 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Being the Computer Technician for a Hospital, Clinic, School District, or Corporate IT has been always one of my ideal long term jobs. But curious on how the the Outlook of a Desktop Support Technician will be for the next 20+ years? I love talking to people a lot and resolving technical issues.

Well I just got accepted into a Desktop Support role at a private school and the interview went pretty. They asked some technical questions and soft skills questions and I got the job.

Im glad it did and after some more in deep researching of the IT Field I think Desktop Support would be a good ideal career for me.

When I was in School I took some web programming and java classes because it was part of my major but I never had no desire to be a programmer. Writing code all was very boring and tedious to me and most of the time I wanted to kill myself.
Then had some interaction with Databases and Network Security.
Databases were still interesting and Network Security not as much

It was when I got a chance to talk to people that got me really excited for the most part.

Learning about technology is awesome while I can share and apply my knowledge everyday with different people while doing more Hands On tech work at the same time. Its pretty awesome

I am thinking of getting my Comptia A+ Certification more to have access to more desktop support roles.

But to succeed in Desktop Support? What is recommended? How would I keep up with technology and what kind of Certifications are recommended ?

Has anyone here worked on Desktop Support? How has it been for you?
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't believe they're 14 years old, but these posts I made about doing freelance tech support still offer some useful advice.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:40 AM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

About 30% of my business is housecalls. Most? Many? people can't deal with appliances more complicated than their refrigerator. I get calls of all kinds including "Here's the power button for your iMac, it's just in the back here" and "Is your monitor plugged in? No, I mean you have to plug this left over cable into a wall outlet...."

I don't imagine this situation will change over the next 20 years.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Desktop support is a good entry into corporate IT and is probably OK for next decade or so, but I don't know that it's safe for 20 years. Desktop support has gotten squeezed in the corporate world over time to save costs and I expect that to continue. The profession is also somewhat pay limited.

We're likely to see desktop operating systems get better and better over time and need less support. Automating now manual tasks requires less hands-on support and more pushing a refreshed application or profile from a server. Lastly, we may see fewer desktops and more servers used, where the desktop itself doesn't do much but display a desktop that's located elsewhere. (That last model has not worked so far, but it probably will eventually).

That being said, desktop support can be a good entry into IT training and business analysis, both of which are basically safe forever, with analysis being a much more common profession. Desktop support is also generally an entry into server and network support, but those professions may actually be under bigger long-term threat from outsourcing and cloud computing than desktop support itself.
posted by cnc at 10:05 AM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

A friend who does support put it in context. When he started out, one guy could support about 25 users. Now it's more like one per 200 users. You can expect the trend continue, and you can think about what that means for the types of tasks that would still remain.

A couple years ago I was visitor in a big hospital. It was about 11 floors high, and there was a PC in every room. Just replacing three year old computers with new ones would be a full time job.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:55 AM on March 22, 2017

Based on what I've seen in the companies I've worked in, you'll top out on compensation or career growth long before you have to worry about the field going away. Most companies seem to treat IT support as an entry-level role, without a lot of expectation that people will stay in it long term. People go into management, system admin, devops, network engineering, customer support, etc. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to stay in IT support long term, but be sure to set your expectations in terms of how much you will get paid and how much growth is available before making a career shift.

Obviously, consulting or running your own company, as Mo Nickels and humboldt32 mention, is a different ballgame.
posted by primethyme at 12:30 PM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


this is true
Yes that what I was looking at.

It does seem like there is always IT Support work wherever you go nowadays
I don't think I have ever expect a big salary
What is the top out of a Level 2 Support Tech generally?
Here in California it seems to be in the 40-60k Range

With that said I am looking to increase my value as an Employee.
I was thinking the CompTIA A+ Cert to establish my knowledge and skills and probably getting the Apple Mac cert

With a Degree thou I was looking maybe into Desktop Management one day.
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 1:36 PM on March 22, 2017

Desktop support is a customer service role more than a technology role. Yes...there's a technical component, and yes you need to be literate in the technology, but that's the slim difference between "desktop support" and any other customer service job. Ultimately, success depends on whether you can fix problems and make the user feel good about the experience. Over the last decade or so, I've seen desktop support organizational evaluations move from hard metrics like "how many tickets closed" to "how well did you do on customer satisfaction surveys", so clearly soft skills are coming to fore. My personal opinion is that even though automation takes care of an increasing percentage of desktop support tasks, people who can hand-hold users through the technology without choking some of them to death will still have jobs.

But just as primethyme said, it's generally considered an entry level job with commensurate (limited) pay upside and opportunities. The expectation as I've seen it is that to move up, you'll at least have to take on managing groups of desktop support folks, or finding some niche.
posted by kjs3 at 3:14 PM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've worked with a lot of desktop support people. It's very rare they stay in that role for more than a year or two because it's not challenging. Like humboldt32 said, a lot of it is dealing with people who didn't plug in their monitor or can't figure out how to create a pivot table in Excel. It's rarely very technical. Most of it is being a patient person and not rolling your eyes at people who refuse to Google before calling the help desk.

Lots of the desktop support staff ended up in networking, server administration, things like that.
posted by AFABulous at 4:18 PM on March 22, 2017

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