What is a Desktop Engineer?

A Desktop Engineer specializes in troubleshooting technical issues for computer users. These issues could be either hardware or software related, and it’s the Desktop Engineer’s job to diagnose where the problem is and implement a solution for the user. A Desktop Engineer typically does the technical work on their own, but they may work in small teams if employed by a large organization. They also spend a fair amount of time communicating with users.

The role of Desktop Engineer can be considered an entry-level position, although some employers may want candidates with a couple years of experience under their belt. Desktop Engineers may have the opportunity to work up to being Senior Desktop Engineers, a position that entails managing and mentoring a team of subordinates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that demand for Computer Support Specialists, which includes Desktop Engineers, is supposed to rise 12 percent through 2024.

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Desktop Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

Desktop Engineers complete a wide variety of tasks to troubleshoot and fix computer problems. Based on our analysis of Desktop Engineer job descriptions, here are five main Desktop Engineer duties and responsibilities.

Creating Software Images for Endpoint Devices

Desktop Engineers are responsible for creating functional disk images – a file that contains the contents and structure of a hard drive or other data storage device. They can then troubleshoot flaws causing software to malfunction by using this default image.

Troubleshooting Software and Hardware Issues

A Desktop Engineer spends a good portion of their time troubleshooting issues reported by the end user. These issues could be software related, such as identifying malware, or can be related to malfunctioning hardware. This requires an extensive knowledge of popular operating systems and software.

Develop and Implement a Software Update Schedule

This involves using patch management and software distribution tools to ensure software updates are implemented network-wide in a timely manner. In a large organization, this can mean updating hundreds of computers on the in-house network.

Ensure Network Security is Up to Date

In today’s age of heightened cyber threats, this is one of the Desktop Engineer’s most important responsibilities. In a way, the Desktop Engineers of the world are on the front lines of the battle against the hackers who seek to steal private information. They are responsible for creating an image that contains security updates and applying said image to all hard drives on the network.

Communicate With Users to Identify Issues and Explain Solutions

Although the role of Desktop Engineer is mostly technical, one of their main duties is listening to users explain their computer issues. The Desktop Engineer then identifies the problem and communicates the solution in layman’s terms.

Desktop Engineer Skills

Being a Desktop Engineer requires a unique blend of technical and people skills. Desktop Engineers are analytical problem-solvers who also have a knack for being a good listener. Those who thrive on helping people tend to excel in this position. In addition to these traits, our research of live descriptions has enlightened us on the core and advanced skills employers are looking for in Desktop Engineer Candidates.

Core skills We skimmed several job descriptions to see which skills were the most important for Desktop Engineers to possess. If you want to become a Desktop Engineer, then these are the primary skills you should focus on.

  • Basic knowledge of network troubleshooting Ethernet and IP configuration
  • Proficiency in Microsoft support tools, such as DNS, storage and networking
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office
  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • Active listening skills
  • Interpersonal skills, such as empathizing with angry users
  • Analytical skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Advanced knowledge of patch management and software distribution
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Desktop Engineer Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for Computer Support Specialists, a category that includes Desktop Engineers, is $48,600. Those in the top 10 percent make more than $81,300, while those in the bottom 10 percent earn a median annual wage of about $29,000. The three states with the highest median Desktop Engineer salaries are Massachusetts at $58,900, California at $57,700 and Alaska at $56,600.

Desktop Engineer Resources

We wanted to give you the best possible picture of the Desktop Engineer career path, so we compiled this list of additional resources to aid your exploration.

On the Web

Onet is an extensive database of career information. It has a detailed profile for what life as a Computer Support Specialist, which is another name for the job of Desktop Engineer.


IT Career Finder is a great website for those looking to explore the many different jobs within the world of Information Technology. It has a section that shows the positionbyposition career arc of a Desktop Engineer.

Industry Groups

The IEEE is one of the largest organizations of Engineers, and has several Desktop Engineers amongst its membership. The organization’s mission revolves around technology’s growing role in our society.

On LinkedIn
Windows 7 Essential Training (Lynda)

Created by David Rivers, this Lynda course teaches users the ins and outs of Windows 7 and is a great option for an aspiring Desktop Engineer. For those who don’t know, Lynda.com is Linkedin’s online learning platform.

Managing DNS Essential Training (Lynda)

Created by Sean Collins, this course covers the core information aspiring Desktop Engineers need to successfully manage DNS systems. This course is worth checking out using Lynda’s free trial.

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