How to get a technical support job (with qualifications)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As businesses become increasingly reliant on digital software, computing and IT infrastructure, it's vital that these systems run effectively. This has increased the desirability of IT professionals and the importance of having a dedicated, knowledgeable technical support department. A career in technical support is ideal for those that have an interest in computing or information technology, and it offers plenty of potential for career advancement. In this article, we explore what a technical support officer is, how to get a technical support job and the qualifications you require during the application process.

What is a technical support job?

A technical support job requires an individual to instal, maintain and upgrade computer systems alongside solving both software and hardware faults that may arise during general use. Depending on the business, a technical support officer may either be on-site as part of the IT department or work as an external third party, operating over the phone and through the use of remote access. A technical support role may offer general expertise on all things computing, while other organisations may split their IT department into different specialisations.

It's common for IT support departments to divide themselves into several categories referred to as first-line, second-line and third-line support. First-line support represents the initial point of contact and generally deals with any basic queries that a client raises. As the issue becomes more complicated, it's referred to second-line and then third-line staff, which are teams typically made up of more experienced or specialised technical support officers. This creates an effective, streamlined work process.

Related: How to start a successful career in IT: guidance and tips

How to get a technical support role in 6 steps

If you want to start a career in technical support, there are several routes you can take, most of which begin with earning the relevant qualifications and education. While there isn't a mandatory degree or course for starting a technical support career, there are several subjects that improve your chances of successfully applying for a support position. You may combine these qualifications with specific skills that allow you to provide a complete, efficient service as a support officer. You can use the following six steps as a guide on how to get a technical support role:

1. Earn your education

The first step to begin this carer is to complete your basic education. If you have a fundamental understanding of maths and IT at school, you can start building the skills that apply to the role. Similarly, English skills are useful for building the skills to communicate with external third parties or clients during your responsibilities in the role. Depending on the number of GCSEs or A-levels you have, you may pursue a higher-level course.

2. Apply for higher education

While a higher education diploma or degree isn't always necessary, it can help your chances of having a successful application. You may consider earning a higher education degree in computer science, information technology, software engineering or systems engineering. All of these subjects help you build knowledge and transferable skills that you're able to use in a technical support position. A degree can demonstrate a willingness to learn and a deeper understanding of the industry, which may improve your chances of earning a new job in IT.

3. Seek relevant work experience

While qualifications show you have the requisite knowledge for a technical support role, work experience shows that you understand how to apply it in the real world. It's good to find relevant work experience wherever possible as this allows you to build an understanding of processes and professional expectations. You might consider starting a role as first-line support staff and working your way up in a desirable company to a more qualified position as a second or third-line team member.

Related: Work experience: definition, importance and tips

4. Build your network

In any professional role, it's vital to have a strong network of contacts that you can call upon for advice or support. Networking can help you build out your list of contacts and open up new opportunities for work in the future. You can also build contacts across the company you work for, as these people may move on in the future and provide opportunities or guidance for you. As you earn work experience, consider asking senior members of the team any questions you have that you can use to increase your own knowledge and understanding.

5. Build technical skills

Technical skills and understanding are crucial in any role within the technical support industry. Information technology is a fast-paced sector and for you to offer an effective service, it's essential to understand how technology, hardware and software evolve. Consider regularly reading about new processes or workflows that you can introduce within your support services. You may also look at earning different certifications that build your skill base while demonstrating you have the knowledge to provide effective support for different systems. Many of these certifications can be found as part of online courses.

Related: Technical skills: definitions and examples

6. Update and format your CV correctly

Having a well-formatted CV is vital for building a successful technical support application and allows you to make the best possible impression on any employers or recruiters that you meet during the application process. Take the time to read through your current CV and establish if it summarises your technical experiences, qualifications or skills correctly. One way of formatting your CV, for example, is by adopting a chronological format that lists your work experience from the most recent. This makes the extent of your skill set immediately obvious.

If you have more qualifications and skills than work experience, a function-based approach is typically better and allows you to be more specific about your knowledge. Whichever approach you choose, always take the time to specifically target your CV for the technical support role. This approach allows you to create a personalised application and cover letter that directly addresses any points in the job description.

Related: CV format guide: examples and tips

What qualifications does a technical support position require?

While there are no mandatory qualifications for a role in technical support, there are several subjects and certifications that can help you build relevant skills and knowledge. The first opportunity to build technical knowledge is during your course of higher education. You may look at earning a degree in a subject such as computer science or information technology that provides clear examples of transferable skills.

Other useful qualifications include technical certifications that demonstrate a technical understanding of the industry and can help you during the application process. Employers typically look for in-depth knowledge of technical programs and applications. Accredited courses can teach you more about specific operating systems, such as Windows from Microsoft, networking and databases. This allows you to learn specialised knowledge in each of these specific areas while understanding more about the wider support process.

Related: Collaboration skills: definitions and examples

What skills does a technical support role require?

When you start a role in technical support, there are several skills that you're able to benefit from largely relating to problem-solving, critical thinking and communication. All of these are soft, transferable skills that allow you to perform a technical support role efficiently while also building skills that you can use throughout your career. The primary skills that a technical support professional may use include:

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving is particularly useful as there's a broad range of challenges that a client may face that also has multiple solutions. It's critical that a technical support officer can provide the right solution to suit the needs of the client. Since computer systems benefit from logical thinking, having the ability to think about an issue logically helps.

Communication skills

Communication skills are vital for explaining complex technical concepts to people that may have a less technical understanding. Verbal communication skills can help you convey information concisely while also helping you collaborate as part of a larger support team. Communication skills are also useful when you're reporting on project progress or successes to senior management.

Collaborative skills

Any technical support role typically involves working as part of a larger team within a larger department. This makes it vital for an individual in a support role to understand how to operate as a team player and collaborate with a range of different people to find solutions to different challenges. Collaboration can help support staff find more effective solutions that work better for everybody involved.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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