IT support engineers install and maintain computer hardware and software systems for a wide range of businesses, in both the private and public sectors.
Different companies use different job titles, so this job is also known as desktop server or application support engineer, IT technical support officer, or technician.
You could be:
responding to technical support calls from end users of computers and software applications
setting up and installing new computers, networks and software
setting up user accounts and profiles on the network
installing updates, known as patches, to software applications
installing and configuring operating systems, anti-virus software and other applications such as Microsoft Office
diagnosing and fixing network problems and hardware or software faults
maintaining inventories of hardware and software
managing backups of servers, in case of data loss
keeping a record of issues and faults along with solutions, for future reference.
Depending on the size of the organisation you work for, you may carry out duties in all areas of IT or specialise in one, such as networks or hardware.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
A newly qualified IT support engineer earns around £18,000 to £24,000 a year. With experience this can rise to £50,000 a year or more.
Many IT support engineers work regular hours, but you might sometimes have to be on call at evenings and weekends to deal with emergency breakdowns. You might sometimes have to work at weekends when businesses are closed, to install new computer systems.
You may have to bend, kneel and lift and carry equipment.
You may have to travel to different sites to carry out work and possibly spend nights away from home.
You would deal with customers by phone, email and face-to-face.
You would have to meet targets for response times to calls and completing the request.
You normally need a HNC, HND or degree in Computing: Technical Support or another relevant technical subject.
For entry to HNC and HND courses you normally need 1-2 Highers plus some subjects at National 4 or 5. For a degree course you need 4-5 Highers including Maths and Physics or a technological subject.
You may be able to get in through a Modern Apprenticeship in IT and Telecommunications at SCQF Level 5 for which you may need 3-5 subjects at National 5, usually including English and Maths. Computing Science would be useful.
You could enter through the Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) in IT: Hardware and System Support, which you can start in S5 or S6 and study at school and college. Entry requirements vary between colleges, but you usually need relevant subjects at National 5 such as Maths, Physics or Computing Science and be working towards Highers in S6.
Employers also look for knowledge of programmes and applications such as Microsoft, Linux and Cisco (networking).
You might need a driving licence for some jobs.
Some engineers in this field work for large organisations which are major users of computer systems and networks such as banks, utilities, schools and colleges and the National Health Service (NHS). Others work for computer manufacturers or for specialist service firms.