Are IT Helpdesk Jobs Still In Demand?

by QuickCert on November 19, 2010

IT Helpdesk Jobs Were The Foot In The Door Jobs
Help desk jobs are often thought of as great entry level gigs to dip your toe into the IT waters. The growth of computers and the internet exploded in the mid and late 90’s, and so did the need for workers to help fix computer problems. But with the dot-com bubble burst, a lot of those help desk workers lost their jobs along with their high-flying young bosses. And today, with constant newspaper headlines about outsourcing, you may be wondering if the help desk really is a good place to start your career.

1. Current Outlook

The outlook for help desk jobs is better than you may think. Actually, it’s quite good within the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s a real demand for computer support specialists. The need for workers is growing, and that growth isn’t expected to slow down until at least 2018. The average salary is over $40,000 per year, and that’s a decent wage any way you cut it, especially for an entry level job. The need is there, so don’t despair! Now, how do you get your foot in the door?

2. Where To Begin

First off, you need to know what you’re doing! Sure, a lot of companies provide on-the-job training, but that’s only helpful AFTER you get the job. While not necessary in all cases, a college degree is the best thing you can have when looking for help desk work. You don’t have to be a computer science or engineering major, although of course that’s a plus. More than anything, a college degree shows your potential employer that you can start a project, and stick with it. And that you have studied beyond the high school basics. It shows you’re a teachable person. Now, don’t worry if you don’t have a degree ; you can still get a help desk job, but it might be a little harder. You’ll be competing with college grads, so you’ll want something to help you stand out.

3. Certifications – Always A Good Idea!

Getting an industry-recognized certification is something every help desk job hopeful should do. Even if you have a degree, a certification shows you know some of the job’s essential knowledge. And a certification is pretty much required if you don’t have a degree. There are literally hundreds of IT certifications out there, so you may feel overwhelmed by choices. While I’m not going to tell you not to EVENTUALLY get a specific certification, because more education is always helpful, I would like to point you in the right direction. Because certain certifications are more helpful than others when you’re just starting out. And being certified means you’ll make more money than people who aren’t.

4. CompTIA And Microsoft

For help nabbing your first help desk job, check out certification from two companies in particular: CompTIA and Microsoft. CompTIA designs and offers certifications on a wide range of specialties in the IT field. You should definitely look into picking up their A+ certification. It’s a two part test, showing you have some entry level knowledge about how PC hardware and software work. Getting A+ certified involves taking two separate exams. The certification is currently good for life once you pass both tests, but that will soon change. If you pass the exams after January 2011, you’ll have to re-certify every 3 years.

Microsoft also offers several certifications for help desk technicians who work with their products. You should head over to their website to get specifics on all of them, as their requirements often change. Right now the “big” one is called the Microsoft Certified IT Professional, or MCITP. Getting this certification means you’ve passed several exams, and have a great understanding of how computers and networks operate. It requires a lot of studying, but looks great on a resume. You should consider getting it after you get A+ certified and land your first gig. The MCITP will help you advance your career and get a bigger salary.