IT helpdesk analysts give advice via telephone, website or email to computer users who need help solving their technical problems. They can also be called helpdesk support technicians or service desk analysts.
You could be:
- providing 1st line technical support to customers – taking enquiries by phone and email
- dealing with problems for hardware, such as servers, computers and printers, and software programs, such as Microsoft Office
- asking questions about the problem and explaining possible solutions
- dealing with common or basic technical issues such as resetting passwords
- using automated diagnostic programs to solve network problems
- updating knowledge bases with details of common problems which customers can view online
- using helpdesk software to log calls with descriptions of issues, progress and solutions
- passing calls to a team of 2nd line support analysts if the problem is more complex
- arranging for a technician to visit the customer if a problem can’t be solved over the phone or by email.
You might start your career in 1st line support, dealing only with routine problems and working from a script, then move into 2nd line support, dealing with more technical issues.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job and the level of your own skills.
Starting salaries could be around £16,000 to £21,000 a year. With 1 or 2 years’ experience this can increase to between £22,000 and £25,000 a year.
With more skills, experience and some supervisory responsibility, the salary can rise to around £30,000 a year or more.
You might earn extra through bonuses and performance-related pay.
- You usually sit with other IT helpdesk analysts in an open plan office.
- You work at a computer and use a phone with a headset.
- You might work normal hours Monday to Friday, although with some employers there may be shifts, covering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if they provide international support.
- Part time work might be possible.
- The work can be busy and demanding.
- There may be customer service targets to meet.
Workforce Employment Status
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There are no set entry routes into this profession.
- You might be able to enter through a Modern Apprenticeship, for which you may need 3-5 subjects at National 4 or 5, usually including English and Maths.
- Some employers will take school leavers with a group of subjects at National 4 or 5 and perhaps 1-2 Highers, and train them on the job.
- Some employers ask for a Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate (HNC) in a computing or information technology related subject. Some courses include technical support.
- Entry requirements for an HNC or HND are usually 1-2 Highers.
- You may have to take an aptitude test for entry.
- You need good keyboard skills.
- Ability in foreign languages can be useful. Some companies recruit those with languages and IT skills for specialised helpline support jobs.
You might work with a computer company which gives support to users of the company’s own hardware or software. There are also in-house support jobs with banks, retail companies, educational institutions and central and local government.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- a good knowledge of the IT hardware and software being used by customers
- a logical and methodical approach
- excellent written and spoken communication skills
- organisational skills and the ability to multitask
- a polite, calm and clear telephone manner – you might have to deal with clients who are anxious or irritated
- excellent problem solving skills
- patience and perseverance.
You need to be able to:
- work in a team and individually
- explain solutions to clients who do not have a technical background
- keep up to date with new developments
- keep accurate records
- work under pressure when the helpdesk is busy, and you are perhaps dealing with difficult issues.
- Training is mainly on the job.
- You would probably take short courses run by manufacturers.
- You might take specialised help desk qualifications such as Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST).
- If you complete a Modern Apprenticeship in Digital Applications you will work towards the Diploma in Digital Applications Support at SCQF Level 6.
- You might take other Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in computer subjects.
- You might take an introductory course in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which is a globally recognised set of best practices for service delivery and management.
- You could move on to a job demanding more skill and with a higher salary.
- From there you could apply for more senior positions, such as team or section leader or departmental manager.
- You might complete more advanced ITIL courses (from foundation, intermediate and expert through to specialist).
- With further training or qualifications you might be able to move into a different area of computer work, such as programming (see the Software Engineer or Programmer job profile).
If you are considering a career in IT why not take a look at the TechFuture Careers website developed by the Tech Partnership, the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology? You will find the video case studies of workers and general information on the industry useful.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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