November 15, 2021  |  Martin McDermott, DBA

Have you ever experienced the angst of being cut off from the internet or email at work because the network is down or your computer has an issue? Each day, tens of thousands of people with this type of dilemma will seek the advice of an expert on computer troubleshooting. The techs who provide support are computer network support specialists and computer user support specialists. 

We met with Glen Jenewein, director of undergraduate internships for the School of Business and Information Technology at Purdue University Global. Jenewein played a vital role in the new Google IT Support Certificates at Purdue Global

In his podcast*,  Jenewein describes the role of a computer network support specialist and a computer user support specialists, the skills and traits required to become one, and advice for students interested in learning more about the field.

What Is a Computer Support Specialist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists can focus on either computer networks or computer users. These two job areas have similar but different responsibilities.  Because computer issues can occur at any time of the day, computer support specialist departments are typically on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jenewein believes being a computer support specialist is an exciting career. According to O*Net, it’s projected there will be more than 54,000 open computer user support specialist positions and more than 15,000 open computer network support specialist positions from 2020 to 2030. Jenewein says these can be rewarding high-end and entry-level jobs.

What Is a Computer Network Support Specialist?

Computer network support specialists perform computer maintenance and troubleshoot network issues. They are the IT professionals responsible for testing, analyzing, and evaluating the network systems that professionals work with every day. “These are the people who make all the magic happen,” Jenewein says.

Quickly solving a network problem is vital because organizations are very dependent on their network systems to function and serve their clients.

According to O*Net, computer network support specialists also:

  • Ensure network security settings are correct for groups and individuals
  • Analyze and document network security breaches
  • Prevent loss of information by backing up data

What Is a Computer User Support Specialist?

Computer user support specialists work directly with computer users by answering questions and helping solve computer problems. Additional job functions of computer support specialists listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) include:

  • Training, setting up, and repairing new or existing computer hardware or software packages
  • Asking clients the right questions to help diagnose a problem
  • Assisting clients through email, by phone, or in person

What Are the Important Skills of a Computer Support Specialist?

Jenewein says a computer support specialist does require some computer knowledge, and applicants who take courses on computer support may be qualified for some jobs, while an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree may be required for other positions. Many employers like to train new employees in-house on their specific systems and models. The co-developed Purdue Global and Google Career Certificate courses combine one of five micro-credentials with the Google IT Support Certificate, with the added advantage of Purdue Global faculty and support. These certificates help students gain the knowledge and best practices required for computer user support specialist roles and computer network support specialist roles, while also providing the opportunity to develop other job relevant skills.

Jenewein says, “What is interesting is that these certificates focus on the general products companies use daily.” Along with technical skills, these certificates teach soft skills, such as customer service, listening, problem-solving, speaking, and writing. These soft skills are essential when clients call into a help desk and need an explanation as to why a network or computer program is down.

Advice for Future Computer Support Specialists

Jenewein believes the best advice he can give to future computer network and user support specialists is to stay relevant. If you want to move into a computer support specialist job and be competitive in the field, make sure you have the skills employers seek. 

Certificates in the field are essential. Some services offer self-paced programs to learners; however, the completion rate is very low. The co-developed Purdue Global and Google IT Support Certificate courses at Purdue Global are led by instructors and offer students the opportunity to interact with each other. Jenewein said students succeed when they get to know the faculty, attend the seminars, and support the team. 

Find out More About Google Certificates

Purdue University Global offers several certificates in partnership with Google. The certificates are:

  • Cybersecurity Fundamentals + Google IT Support Certificate
  • Data Intelligence + Google IT Support Certificate
  • Health Informatics + Google IT Support Certificate
  • Leadership + Google IT Support Certificate

For more information about these certificates and Purdue Global, reach out today.


About the Author

Martin McDermott, DBA

Martin J. McDermott, DBA, is a faculty member in the School of Business and Information Technology at Purdue Global. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global.


NOTES AND CONDITIONS

Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience, and opportunities for employment. Purdue Global cannot guarantee employment placement, salary level, or career advancement.

*The salary outcomes for a computer user support specialist can generally range from $40,730 to $68,500, with a median salary of $52,690. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, Wage Information, May 2020. Any labor market, salary, and projected growth information are supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary range is based on national data. Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience, and opportunities for employment. Purdue Global cannot guarantee employment placement, salary level, or career advancement.