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What is an IT Specialist?

By Christy Bieber
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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An Information Technology (IT) specialist is a person who works with computers and other technologies such as telephones and fax machines. Many companies have someone on staff who helps with the maintenance of computers and computer networks within the organization. He or she may also work for an independent consulting company, a customer-support division of a computer or technology company, a private computer repair shop, or in any number of other settings where a person can come to him to pay him for help with a computer.

Although some IT specialists can handle any issues and problems relating to technology, it is most common for them to work within the field of computers. Because computers have become so pervasive, almost every workplace, school, public institution and private home has one. As such, there is a great number of potential problems that can arise for novice computer users, from how to set up a network to how to troubleshoot software that is not working properly. As such, IT specialists are much in demand within the computer industry.

In a company, an IT specialist may serve many roles and functions. Most are given administrative privileges over the network of computers. This means they must help maintain servers through checking both hardware and software. If a server begins exhibiting problematic behavior, such as a failure to turn on, the IT expert must be able to identify and diagnose the problem, such as a broken power cord or a failed motherboard. He then must be able to take the appropriate steps to correct it.

Most IT specialists are able to correct software problems themselves. For example, specialists may install fixes for software released by a manufacturer or may uninstall and reinstall software that is not working properly. Hardware problems may either be fixed in-house by the IT specialist, or he or she may be required to outsource the repair if the problem is very complex or requires special tools.

In addition to handling problems, an IT specialist within the company also keep the computers running smoothly on a day-to-day basis. This can mean making sure there are sufficient software licenses for everyone in the company who needs access to a given program. This can also mean installing the actual software on employee's computers. Specialists may also respond to calls for computer help from staff who do not know how to resolve problems on their own.

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Discussion Comments

By nony — On Jul 18, 2011

@David09 - My first IT job was in technical support. I don’t know if you would call me a “specialist” per se.

My job consisted of taking inbound support calls from people using the company’s modem software. This was way back when dial up was still the way to connect to the Internet.

Customers would call with connection problems, and I would go down a checklist of items for them to go through as part of their troubleshooting (including the infamous request that they simply reboot).

It was an interesting if uninspiring job, but it did help me get more technical jobs and eventually land a position as a computer programmer. So I would agree that it’s a good foot in the door for other work in IT, unless that’s the kind of thing that you want to do forever, which is perfectly fine too.

By MrMoody — On Jul 18, 2011

@David09 - We have an IT specialist in our workplace. I don’t know if that’s his official job title, but a lot of the duties are similar to that of an administrator.

Personally I think that the IT specialist and the network administrator are almost the same from a practical perspective so I wouldn’t go along with the “lite” classification.

A typical IT specialist resume would show skills like knowing networking technologies such as Cisco and so forth. It would also show that the job seeker has proficiency with virus removal and of course installing and configuring network firewalls.

By David09 — On Jul 17, 2011

Our local school system runs an employment ad from time to time for an IT specialist job. This person is expected to help with the school’s computer labs, doing installation of hardware and software and also providing support.

In addition, since they serve an entire school system and not just one school, they will often be out on the field, answering support calls, and also talking to school personnel about their IT needs.

I also believe that they do some stuff with phone lines and fax machines too, but that is a smaller part of their job description.

I should point out that the IT specialist job is not really a rigorous position. I would call it more “administration lite” and for the most part it doesn’t involve much programming, although having that experience wouldn’t hurt.

Still, it would be a good way to get your foot in the door of Information Technology.

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