How to Become a Desktop Support Specialist: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries

How to Become a Desktop Support Specialist


Desktop support helps customers and coworkers with computer problems. Providing technical assistance with both hardware and software on a variety of operating systems, desktop support specialists often work in call centers or as members of IT support staff. Everyone hates it when their computer breaks down, so desktop support specialists have to be great listeners and communicators who are comfortable dealing with cranky clients—while also being experts in the hardware and software they support.


Annual salaries for desktop support specialists will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2011, the average annual salary for desktop support specialists working in the U.S. was $51,820 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for desktop support specialists, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work as a Desktop Support Specialist

California offers the greatest number of employment opportunities in the nation, with 67,880 desktop support specialists presently employed statewide, earning a yearly average salary of $59,050. Texas is second in the United States, where 54,370 are currently working in the field, making an annual mean wage of $53,770.

The metro areas employing the most desktop support specialists are:

  • New York-White Plains (26,270)
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (20,790)
  • Atlanta (17,750)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of desktop support specialists are:

  • Boulder, CO (14.82 per thousand jobs)
  • Burlington, VT (13.01 per thousand jobs)

The metro areas employing the best-paid desktop support specialists are:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale, CA (average salary $73,350)
  • San Francisco (average salary $69,660)

Employment and Salary Information for Desktop Support Specialists

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a desktop support specialist. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Desktop Support Specialist

Why Become A Desktop Support Specialist?

As computers are integrated deeper into all kinds of work, the need to keep those computers running becomes greater. Desktop support specialists work on the front lines of computer maintenance, so they’re in increasing demand. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Excellent job growth. Desktop support specialist jobs will grow much faster than average. 17% growth is forecast between 2012 and 2022.
  • Flexibility. Many support specialists don’t work 9-to-5, but are on call at other times of day to deal with a crisis. If a set schedule bores you, flexibility might have some appeal.
  • Good pay. Average pay in this position was a shade over $50,000 per year in 2011.
  • Work with computers and peopleIt’s a technical job requiring technical skills, to be sure, but there’s also the reward of sending away your customers and clients happy when their problem is fixed and they can get back to work.

Desktop Support Specialist: What You Need To Know

A great desktop support specialist is good with computers and good with people. He or she can walk through the likely problems with a computer, propose fixes, and remain calm, supportive and professional while doing so. A basic working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Hardware and Software Expertise
  • Problem Solving
  • Listening Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Patience

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about desktop support specialist careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Desktop Support Specialist Careers

Since there are many different types of hardware and software present in the market, there are also a number of ways that desktop support specialists can receive their education. While qualifications are always valuable, desktop support is one field where, as long as you have the skills, it matters slightly less how you acquire them.

On-the-Job Training

Some desktop support specialists are trained on the job. However, these positions are commonly entry-level, and candidates will usually have their own experience working with computer software and systems—much more than the average person.

Most desktop support jobs will involve some on-the-job training in the particular software the employer uses, as well as the employer’s expectations.

Certificate / Associate’s Degree

Many companies will hire candidates who have received certification in a particular area of expertise through community colleges, technical, trade or vocational schools.

Bachelor’s Degree

Some businesses may require their desktop support specialists to have a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field prior to being considered for a position.