Improve Technical Skills and Increase Your Value with a Help Desk Career

By Karen Stinneford

Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part blog series called “Help Desk 101.”

Throughout the series, CompTIA Tech Career Academy explores how starting work in the IT industry as a help desk technician develops your hard technical skills and soft professional skills, and positions you for future career advancement in both responsibility and salary.

Besides being the perfect springboard to a long-term tech career, help desk jobs abound and can be readily secured with CompTIA A+ certification.

In this post, CompTIA Tech Career Academy explores how the help desk builds technical skills.


Let’s be honest, people don’t call tech support for grins and giggles. They only call when something’s wrong.

That can make working on a help desk stressful.

And sometimes people call tech support to complain that their desktop or mouse isn’t working — only to find out their computer isn’t turned on, and their “mouse” actually is the remote control to their garage door.

That can make working on a help desk aggravating.

Still, the benefits of starting your fledgling tech career on the help desk outweigh the costs, according to Adam Turner, chief academic officer at CompTIA Tech Career Academy.

“When you work on a help desk, you field calls ranging from the frivolous to the critical,’” he said. “You have to be prepared to hear and respond to anything.”


What Do You Do on a Help Desk

Depending upon the size of the help desk — and how a particular company triages, responds to, and escalates calls internally — a tech support employee manages everything from resetting forgotten passwords to eliminating dangerous malware. The help desk technologist’s job is to think broadly about the caller’s complaint, reverse-engineer the caller’s actions, solve for the problem, and then communicate a solution in a clear and kind way the caller understands.

Routine help desk technical work can involve:

  • Setting up, maintaining and troubleshooting hardware such as desktops, tablets, smartphones, printers and other peripheral devices.
  • Installing and configuring software.
  • Troubleshooting network issues.
  • Identifying malware and other security vulnerabilities in order to protect users and the company.
  • Documenting calls, issues and resolution steps using your employer’s help desk ticketing system.
  • Tracking inventory of the company’s IT assets.

“The end-user doesn’t necessarily understand how all the functions of IT dovetail together so that their desktop, Word document, and Internet browser all work effectively and securely,” Turner said. “The help desk technologist, however, does.”


What Do You Need to Study to Prepare Yourself to Work on the Help Desk

In CompTIA Tech’s IT-Ready Technical Support program, students learn the technical skills necessary to prepare for them for the  CompTIA A+ certification exam. The CompTIA A+ certification exam covers the following domains and topics:

  • Hardware. Identify, use and connect hardware components and devices.
  • Networking. Explain types of networks and connections including transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP), Wi-Fi and small office/home office (SOHO).
  • Mobile devices. Install and configure laptops and other mobile devices.
  • Network and hardware troubleshooting. Troubleshoot device and network issues.
  • Security. Identify and protect against security vulnerabilities for devices and their network connections.
  • Windows Operating System. Install and support Windows OS, including command line and client support.
  • Other OS Technologies. Understand Mac OS, Linux and mobile OS.
  • Software troubleshooting. Troubleshoot PC and mobile device issues, including application security support.
  • Operational procedures. Follow best practices for safety, environmental impacts and communication and professionalism

Hiring managers often seek CompTIA A+ certification in job candidates seeking employment on a help desk.  

In between taking calls that can be stressful or aggravating, Turner said, something important happens for the help desk technologist — learning and growth.

“A help desk employee interacts with all disciplines of information technology,” he said. “In doing so, you become more knowledgeable, which increases your value to the employer. You’ll also learn what disciplines pique your curiosity most, giving you insightful direction if you choose to specialize.”


Get Started Now

At CompTIA Tech, students are taught by CompTIA A+ certified instructors and have access to online learning tools and discussion forums to reinforce their studies. Plus, students receive targeted professional development to refine critical business skills. Although CompTIA Tech cannot guarantee placement to its graduates, no education program truly can, CompTIA Tech does help students connect to the right employers after they graduate and gain their certification. Applications are open for upcoming classes.


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