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Ever found yourself playing tech hero, swooping in to fix your friends’ computer woes? If you’re the go-to person for troubleshooting Wi-Fi issues or vanquishing pesky software glitches, why not turn that knack into a career? Becoming an IT support specialist might just be your perfect fit!

In this guide, we’ll dive into the steps you need to take, all without needing a fancy degree. Ready to turn your techie talents into a rewarding job? Let’s get started!

1. What is IT Support?

What is IT Support?

IT support involves diagnosing and resolving technical issues related to hardware, software, and network systems to ensure smooth operation and efficiency within an organization. It includes providing assistance to end-users, maintaining IT infrastructure, and implementing security measures.

15 Different IT Career Paths

Curious about the diverse opportunities in the IT world? IT is an umbrella field for multiple jobs. From cybersecurity to cloud computing, explore these 15 exciting IT career paths that could shape your future in tech.

  1. IT Support and Help Desk: Focus on troubleshooting and resolving user issues with hardware, software, and network problems.
  2. Network Administration: Manage and maintain an organization’s network infrastructure, including routers, switches, and servers.
  3. Cybersecurity: Protect systems, networks, and data from cyber threats through monitoring, analysis, and response strategies.
  4. Software Development: Design, code, test, and maintain software applications and systems, often specializing in specific programming languages or platforms.
  5. Database Administration: Manage and maintain databases, ensuring data integrity, security, and accessibility.
  6. Systems Administration: Oversee and maintain an organization’s IT systems, including servers, operating systems, and applications.
  7. IT Project Management: Plan, execute, and oversee IT projects, ensuring they are completed on time, within budget, and meet business objectives.
  8. Cloud Computing: Specialize in cloud services and infrastructure, managing cloud-based applications, platforms, and data storage solutions.
  9. IT Consulting: Provide expert advice to organizations on how to optimize their IT systems and processes.
  10. Data Science and Analytics: Analyze and interpret complex data to help organizations make informed decisions and identify trends.
  11. Web Development:  Design and build websites, ensuring they are functional, user-friendly, and visually appealing.
  12. IT Auditing: Assess and evaluate an organization’s IT systems, ensuring compliance with regulations and identifying areas for improvement.
  13. DevOps Engineering: Bridge the gap between development and operations teams, automating and streamlining the software delivery process.
  14. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Develop and implement AI and machine learning algorithms to create intelligent systems and applications.
  15. Technical Writing: Create clear and concise documentation, manuals, and guides for software applications and IT systems.

Each of these paths offers unique challenges and opportunities, allowing IT professionals to specialize and advance in their careers according to their interests and skills. 

In this article, we will focus on entry-level IT Support positions you can transition into without a degree or experience.

2. What is an IT Support Specialist?

What is an IT Support Specialist?

An IT Support Specialist is the go-to person for resolving technical issues and ensuring the smooth operation of computer systems within an organization.

Two Merit America alumni discussing job placement.
3. What Do IT Support Specialists Do?

What Do IT Support Specialists Do?

You’ve scrolled Indeed job listings and watched the latest “Day in the Life of an IT Support Specialist” video on YouTube. Yet, you still have the same question: What the heck does an IT support specialist do?

Do IT support specialists spend their days coding? Or fighting hackers? Not quite.

When employees encounter tech-related problems, IT support specialists step in to help. These issues can range from a frozen screen and software glitches to connectivity problems. The specialists diagnose and fix the problems quickly, minimizing downtime. This ensures that the workflow remains uninterrupted.

IT support specialists also play a proactive role in maintaining the health of an organization’s IT infrastructure. They install and configure new hardware and software, set up user accounts, and provide training on new technologies.

Additionally, they implement and monitor security measures to protect against cyber threats, ensuring that sensitive data and systems are secure. By performing regular maintenance and updates, they help prevent future issues and keep the IT environment running efficiently.

In essence, IT Support Specialists are the unsung heroes who keep the technological backbone of an organization stable and efficient.

IT Support Specialists Job Responsibilities

  • Diagnose and resolve hardware and software issues for end-users, including desktops, laptops, printers, and other peripherals.
  • Respond to and manage help desk tickets, providing timely and effective support via phone, email, chat, or in-person.
  • Provide remote support to users by accessing their systems and resolving issues through remote desktop tools.
  • Install, configure, and update software applications and operating systems on user devices.
  • Set up and configure new hardware, including computers, servers, and network devices.
  • Assist with the implementation of system upgrades and patches to ensure optimal performance and security.
  • Diagnose and resolve network connectivity issues, including problems with routers, switches, and wireless access points.

How Much Do IT Support Specialists Make?

We get it—before you embark on a career change, you want to know it’s worth the investment.

The median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $71,530 in May 2023, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Likewise, the median annual wage for computer user support specialists was $59,240 in May 2023.

So how does that compare to other occupations?

The median annual wage for all occupations was $48,060 in May 2023, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In other words, support specialists make more than the median average wage of all jobs.

That said, the salary of an IT Support Specialist can vary significantly based on factors, such as geographic location, level of experience, education, and the specific industry they work in.

In addition to base salary, IT support specialists may receive various benefits that contribute to their overall compensation package. These can include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and opportunities for professional development and certification reimbursement. Some organizations may also offer bonuses or profit-sharing plans based on individual performance or company success.

Overall, while the base salary provides a good indication of earning potential, the full compensation package can add significant value, making IT support a financially rewarding career choice for many tech professionals.

3 Variables Impacting IT Support Specialist Salaries

  • Location. Employers often consider your local cost of living when determining an appropriate salary range. This is especially important when considering remote IT support specialist jobs. A company located in California may not offer you a California pay-grade if you live in Wisconsin. 
  • Education. At Merit America, we can help you acquire foundational skills to attain an entry-level IT support specialist position. In addition, we have accredited university partners, including Northeastern University, Golden gate University, University of North Texas, and Western Governors University, that can support you through continued education.
  • Experience. Experience is a great determiner of salary. A specialist with 15 years of experience qualifies for a higher salary than one with 15 months of experience. As you gain experience, you can qualify for higher IT support specialist salaries.
4. Are IT Support Specialists In Demand?

Are IT Support Specialists In Demand?

Making a career change is a big step. And you want to ensure you actually have a job waiting after you make this investment in your career and financial future. 

We’re happy to share that there is a high ongoing demand for IT support specialists. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer support specialist profession is projected to grow 5% from 2022 to 2032. This is faster than the average.

Even more, nonprofit trade association CompTIA estimates that 1,700 IT support specialist jobs listings were published in addition to 18,000-plus active listings in April 2024.

 IT support specialists are in-demand and is an actively growing profession.

5. How To Start A Career In IT

How to Start a Career in IT for Beginners: 4 Steps

  1. Build a Strong Knowledge Base

There are plenty of college alternatives that can help you acquire the technical skills and experience needed to excel as an IT support specialist. These alternatives include:

  • Bootcamps
  • Online courses
  • Specialized training program

All of these options have pros and cons! For example, specialized training programs—like Merit America that uses industry-standard third-party curriculum via Google IT Support Professional Certificate—will partner with you to gain base knowledge, providing technical support partners so you actually learn the required skills. However, if you have prior knowledge in tech, you may feel like you don’t need the extra support and may opt for a professional certificate.

Whatever your path, you must familiarize yourself with essential IT concepts such as networking, operating systems, hardware, and software troubleshooting. 

As you build your knowledge base, ensure you learn the following IT support specialist skills and tools:

10 Essential IT Support Specialist Skills
Operating System Expertise: Proficiency with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.
Hardware Knowledge: Understanding of computer hardware components, peripherals, and troubleshooting techniques.
Networking Skills: Familiarity with network configurations, protocols (TCP/IP, DNS, DHCP), and network troubleshooting.
Software Proficiency: Ability to install, configure, and troubleshoot software applications and systems.
Security Awareness: Knowledge of cybersecurity principles, malware protection, and data encryption methods.
Database Management: Basic understanding of database systems like SQL for data management and troubleshooting.
Scripting and Automation: Skills in scripting languages (e.g., PowerShell, Python) for task automation and efficiency.
Remote Support Tools: Proficiency with remote desktop applications and support tools (e.g., TeamViewer, LogMeIn).
System Administration: Experience with managing user accounts, permissions, and system updates.
IT Service Management (ITSM): Familiarity with ITIL practices and service management tools (e.g., ServiceNow, Jira).

These skills equip IT support specialists to effectively manage and resolve technical issues, ensuring smooth IT operations within an organization.

  1. Create a Strong Resume

The gift of gab is important; however, you must first catch the interest of prospective employers. A strong resume is your differentiator in the job market. 

Your IT support specialist should highlight your certifications, experience, and relevant skills. In addition, you should include any projects or freelance work that demonstrate your abilities.

We know writing a resume is stressful, especially when you may not have prior experience. At Merit America, as part of our program, we partner you with Job Support Specialists to help you write a winning resume, highlighting your transferable skills and technical education. 

  1. Network with Professionals

If you’ve job hunt for any amount of time, you know your network is invaluable. However, it is worth reiterating. Your professional connections can connect you with employers and put in a good word for you. This can be especially important when a complimentary note on your application can mean the difference between a job offer and heading back to Indeed.

So are you plugged into your network? Do you need new tech connections? Merit America can help

  1. Stay Current

Technology evolves rapidly, so staying updated with the latest trends and advancements in IT is important. Follow tech news, participate in continuous learning, and consider advanced certifications as you progress.

There are plenty of relevant continued learning opportunities, including industry-standard certifications, like CompTIA A+, that can demonstrate your skills and knowledge, as well as help you qualify for higher IT support specialist salaries. 

By focusing on these areas, you can build a solid foundation for a career as an IT support specialist without needing a four-year degree.

📌 Related reading: Become an IT Support Specialist in 14 Weeks

A woman in the Merit America IT Support program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is IT a Good Career Path?

Yes, IT is a great career path for several compelling reasons! 

These reasons include:

  • The IT industry is characterized by high demand and job security due to the increasing reliance on technology across all sectors.
  • IT professionals often enjoy competitive salaries, attractive benefits, and numerous opportunities for career advancement.
  • The field also offers a variety of specializations, such as cybersecurity, software development, network administration, and data analysis, allowing individuals to find a niche that aligns with their interests and skills. 

The IT community is vibrant and collaborative, offering ample networking opportunities, mentorship, and professional development resources. Overall, for those with an interest in technology and problem-solving, pursuing an IT career can provide long-term satisfaction and financial stability.

Can I Get an IT Job Without a Degree?

Yes, you can get a job in IT, like IT support specialist, without a degree!

CompTIA estimates that 72% of active IT support specialist job listings do not require a four-year degree.

We can help you gain the needed technical skills, build a portfolio, network, and get an IT support specialist job without a degree or prior experience. Keep reading to learn how.

📌 Related reading: Meet Brandon: Lessons Learned From Gig-Work To IT Support

Can I Get a Job With the Google IT Support Professional Certificate?

Yes, you can get a job with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate!

You don’t need a four-year degree or prior experience. And you can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to land an entry-level IT support specialist job. This is why Merit America uses the Google IT Support Professional Certificate curriculum in our job training program.

The industry-standard certificate lays your knowledge foundation, and you can go on to earn advanced certificates, like CompTIA A+, to increase your earning potential and advance your career.

Get into IT with Merit America 

Becoming an IT support specialist is a rewarding journey that combines technical expertise with problem-solving skills. By earning a certificate, gaining hands-on experience, and continuously learning, you can build a successful career in this dynamic field.
If you’re ready to take the next step, consider exploring the IT support Career Track at Merit America for comprehensive training and support. Start your path to becoming an IT support specialist today!