Help Desk Infographic

Help Wanted at the Help Desk: Lucrative jobs without a college degree or previous experience

By Karen Stinneford

Ask the average person on the street and they’d probably agree that jobs offering $26-plus per hour to someone with no college degree or previous experience all have been outsourced overseas.

Have they, though…?

No. Those jobs are right here, in the United States.

Information technology is hiring — from entry-level to C-suite positions; with no previous work experience or decades of it; and with no college degree or graduate education.

If you know something about technology, you can secure a job in IT.

 

The Quickest Way in Is via the Help Desk

A great “foot in the door” to a career in information technology is a position on the help desk.

According to the most recent data available from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are some 863,100 help desk positions throughout the United States. And that number is expected to increase by 10 percent within the next year.

Why is the help desk such a great position for a newcomer to IT?

For starters, you don’t need a college degree or previous IT experience.

As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, a help desk employee — or computer user support specialist, in IT-speak — needs to have some understanding of technology. Certification that demonstrates broad-based foundational tech skills — such as CompTIA’s non-vendor-specific A+ certification – shows employers that one is equipped to help with challenges involving desktops, laptops, mobile phones, printers and other devices.

And help desks do not exist just at quote-unquote tech companies. Every midsize and larger company — be it hospital or bank or utility or university — operates a help desk.

Help Desk IT Jobs Infographic

 

Help Desk: It’s What You Know

When working on a help desk, a support specialist is tasked with ensuring that computer systems are up-to-date, secure and functioning properly.  An employer would expect a help desk employee to assist with the following:

  • Hardware. Identifying, using and connected hardware components and devices. 
  • Operating systems. Installing and supporting Windows, Linux and mobile operating systems.
  • Software. Installing software and troubleshooting PC and mobile devices issues, including application and security.
  • Networking. Understanding and being able to explain the different types of networks and connections; troubleshooting issues.

  • Security. Identifying and protecting vulnerabilities devices and their network connections.

  • Mobile devices. Installing and configuring laptops and other mobile devices.

  • Virtualization and cloud computing. Comparing and contrasting cloud computing concepts and setting up client-side virtualization.

  • Operational procedures. Following best practices for safety, environmental impacts, and communication and professionalism.

Daily responsibilities range from running diagnostics and troubleshooting systems; installing software; updating computer hardware; onboarding new employees by setting up their computer systems, login information and access to a company’s cloud services; training employees in new technologies; and providing technical support over the phone or Internet.

Most specialists who work on a help desk find the experience not only broadens their own tech know-how, but it also helps them identify what aspect of information technology appeals to them the most. Is it networking? Cybersecurity? Servers? Cloud infrastructure? Project management?  

With that interest, a help desk employee can earn additional certifications allowing him or her to advance into information technology positions offering more autonomy and authority — and paying more money.

 

Tech Knowledge Is Important, But So Is People Knowledge

While employers look for help desk specialists with basic tech knowledge, they also seek specialists who understand people.

According to Manpower Group — a Fortune 500 multinational corporation that studies staffing trends — 65 percent of companies hiring IT workers say communication is the most valued soft skill one can bring to a technology role.

And employers reported that communication, problem-solving, and collaboration were the most desirable soft skills someone could bring to an IT role.

The most successful information technology employees, they say, are equipped with both hard and soft skills.

 

CompTIA Tech Career Academy: Blending Hard and Soft Skills in One Training Program

Creating IT Futures is a workforce charity founded by CompTIA to expand the IT pipeline and create more on-ramps to tech careers.

To that end, it has launched the CompTIA Tech Career Academy. Called CompTIA Tech for short, it takes the proven IT-Ready Technical Support curriculum — combining practical knowledge, technical expertise and soft skills development — and pairs it with preparation for the respected CompTIA A+ certification. Then we include career services — offering career guidance, resume building tips, and interview prep, and connecting graduates with employers looking for trained, qualified professionals.

 

So, Why CompTIA Tech?

There are multiple paths to launching a career in IT. Here’s how CompTIA Tech compares to the most familiar other options:

  • A college degree, which works great for students interested in pursuing higher education anyway. But the years-long commitment and tuition costs are barriers for many. Even with a degree, you still might not have the right tech training and certifications needed to secure employment.  
  • A boot camp can be a great resource; literally thousands of people have earned CompTIA certifications this way. But it isn’t necessarily a good pathway for an IT novice; they move fast and focus almost exclusively on technical skills. If you’re launching a career in IT without a tech background, CompTIA Tech provides more comprehensive training of greater value that includes soft skills and career services.
  • Video on demand, a good option if low-cost training is your main focus. But they lack responsive, real-time instructors to answer questions, as well as the ability to collaborate with classmates.

To apply CompTIA Tech, link to https://www.comptiatech.org/admissions/apply.

 

Help Wanted

Not only are tech jobs plentiful and lucrative, but they are also immensely rewarding.

Glassdoor recently named its “50 Best Jobs in America for 2020” and seven of the top 10 can be found in information technology.  

So, the “Help Wanted” sign is hanging in just about every company that uses technology to function day in, day out. And today’s tech employers care less about where IT workers went to school — and more about what tech specialists know and how they share that knowledge with others. 

 

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