Help Me Transition Into Computer Help Desk Work?
April 18, 2021 3:24 AM   Subscribe

I am a talented amateur at computer help desk work, but I am looking for guidance on how to transition to the field formally, a sense of average job security, and accurate statistics as to how the salary might differ from my current one. Much more details after the fold.

I've worked for 20 years in legal admin. But during my life I've accumulated a lot of computer and Office expertise (Windows, Mac, bash, zsh, etc.), and usually can grok the ins and outs of new software pretty quickly.

In addition to my existing knowledge I'm a good problem-solver and know how to Google answers and adapt them to the problem at hand, and already have done a lot of informal help desk at every job I've been at. The help desk at my current employer know I'm a good liaison.

I really get an enjoyable kick out of helping people with their problems one-on-one, and I like making computers work and figuring out what weirdness is causing the bug.

In short I feel I'm a talented amateur who has the above inclinations and the skills, but I'm at a total loss as to how to take that and transition it to a paying job opening in the field. Ideal location: help desk at a law firm. (Not a possibility at my current field.)

Do I need formal certifications, and if so, from which entities (I see Microsoft and Google both have certificates)?

Are there ways to discover where the gaps in my knowledge lay (which I probably don't know exist) for a typical help desk technician?

How is average job security in such a job?

Is there a way to learn what an average help desk tech salary in my metropolitan area would be?

This and any other advice would be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The job will usually tell you what they require: CompTIA A+, Network+, or even Security+, Microsoft's equivalent, and so on. Google have an IT Admin Cert but it's for really beginners and comes before CompTIA A+.

Glassdoor and such job websites will give you the average salaries in metro areas.
posted by kschang at 7:10 AM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

A few things:

1) Robert Half has salary guides that cover a lot of fields/geographies. I don't know whether they have legal tech, specifically. I don't know what current salaries are like.

2) I think certifications get you past recruiters, but may not mean much in terms of actually passing an interview. Interviewers are going to care about how much you know about troubleshooting issues and the software used.

3) Demonstrated knowledge of being able to troubleshoot/administer legal tech solutions, especially with 20 years' legal experience, is extremely valuable. Things like BigHand, MacPac, document review systems, document management systems such as iManage, time tracking systems. And now, all manner of remote access, VPN, etc.

4) At my firm we've never had layoffs of help desk people (or, I think, anyone in tech), even though other groups have seen cuts. I think at a law firm, especially a large one, if you're good, your job is pretty safe.

I am not your law firm's technical support manager, although I used to be my law firm's technical support manager. If you want to MeMail me, I'd be happy to a) try to connect you with a recruiter at Robert Half (you might not be interested in contract-to-hire, but I can probably find someone to talk with you who can answer some of your questions), b) answer more specific questions you have, and c) help you network with people at my firm, either recruiters, or people in tech support/help desk, depending on where you live. And I know a few people at other law firms that might be willing to talk to you about the situation at their firms, if you're in Seattle.
posted by Gorgik at 7:24 AM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

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