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What is a Desktop Support Specialist?

By Bryon Turcotte
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A desktop support specialist is a trained computer expert who provides technical support to users of computer software and hardware running the Windows®, Macintosh®, or Linux® operating system. Most often, a support specialist works within a company's information technology department, as a member of the help desk staff at a computer support company, or as an independent contractor. He can be more effective in the workplace and enhance the customer service experience for all the users he supports if he acts as a guru, a communicator, and a teacher.

To the average computer user in the corporate environment, a desktop support specialist is the know-all-see-all guru who wields the answer for every question like a magic wand. A specialist with this level of expertise often has a degree in computer science or technical certification. Many times, he has the ability to troubleshoot and repair problems via e-mail, phone, or in person. These individuals can solve both hardware and software problems, diagnose and resolve network connectivity problems, and help with product updates. This important support role demands knowledge that is current and applicable to the user's environment.

An effective desktop support specialist must be a good communicator in addition to a great problem solver. In the work environment, there are deadlines, details, and demands at every turn. The specialist has been put in place to be the first line of defense when problems arise that demand proper and professional levels of communication. He should make eye contact while speaking, be an attentive listener while the user is explaining the issue, and speak in a clear voice when answering a users question. No matter what the service or product may be, good communication is a valuable skill and important benefit to all being served by this person.

Often, there is a need for a steady and patient teacher to navigate through a confusing and difficult software application. Usually, a desktop support specialist will be an expert in several software applications. Sometimes, when new applications are introduced, the user will need to be educated on its functionality and features. Becoming a teacher can be the most demanding but also the most rewarding part of this role. Along with being a guru and a great communicator, this characteristic helps to make an effective and valued team member.

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Discussion Comments

By anon959374 — On Jul 03, 2014

Actually, when there is not anything for us to do, we typically go on the social network and chat and wait. That, or we hone our skills in programming or some other skill that is more specialized that we may gain a great salary in the future.

By Patrickmoore — On Sep 30, 2013

All these articles are really helpful for who need the basic concepts / information.

By jmc88 — On Jun 12, 2012

@matthewc23 - I know what you mean. At the last place I worked, we had a man who was an independent consultant and worked for several smaller companies. Whenever we would have a problem, we would usually call him, and he would try to diagnose and fix the problem over the phone, if possible. He used so much complicated terminology and didn't go step by step through the processes he was describing.

For example, one time a coworker and I were trying to change some sort of settings for the computer. We called the guy up, and he started telling us to change file names without even helping us find what folder they were in to start with.

Having computer problems can be very stressful, so having a computer support specialist who is understanding of that can be a huge benefit. I think most specialists are capable of figuring out most computer problems, so it really comes down to communication that separates the great specialists from the average ones.

By matthewc23 — On Jun 11, 2012

@Emilski - I guess it would really just depend on the company and the desktop support specialist's job description. At the place where I work, we have a couple of computer labs available for people to use. Our network specialist is responsible for making sure all of those computers are updated regularly and have all the necessary software for the work that needs done on them. Besides that, she spends some time upgrading computer hardware and formatting computers for new employees.

I like that the article mentions communication being a big part of the technical support specialist job. It is sort of an odd situation, because a lot of people who get involved in computer science are pretty introverted to start with, yet they often need to be able to use simple terminology and give very specific details to people.

By Emilski — On Jun 10, 2012

@jcraig - You are very right. In the office where I work, I usually try to help people with their problems before they call the professional. You wouldn't believe how many times there is a fix that involves nothing more than just restarting the computer or downloading a simple program. I understand that a lot of people don't feel comfortable dealing with computers on their own, but just entering your problem into a Google search will usually give you a good start to fixing the problem on your own.

I have always wondered, though, when a desktop support technician isn't actually working on someone's computer, what do they do? All I can really think of is that they might help set up networks or something. I am sure there are other smaller tasks that I am not thinking of. Does anyone have any ideas?

By jcraig — On Jun 09, 2012

I agree with the article that having a good desktop support specialist is a must for almost every business. I work in an office with a couple dozen other people, and there are constantly things that go wrong with computers. I consider myself pretty technically savvy, so I can usually fix most of the problems I come across, but every now and then something will go wrong that I can't fix on my own.

I guess it depends on your exact job, but if you do a little searching and try to fix the problem yourself, it usually saves everyone a lot of time in the end. Most IT people usually have a pretty busy schedule as it is, so a lot of times you can fix your own problems before the specialist would even be able to get around to your computer.

Even if you aren't able to fix the issue on your own, if you try to at least figure out what is causing the problem you can also speed up the process.

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