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System Support Specialist Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and tasks performed by system support specialists vary depending on the software and hardware used by the hiring company. These core job tasks, however, are common regardless of these variables:

Provide Tech Support System support specialists answer requests for software and hardware support throughout the company and its various branch locations.

Perform Maintenance System support specialists perform preventative maintenance on hardware systems and network equipment to prevent errors.

Troubleshoot Problems System support specialists troubleshoot hardware problems and find fixes for them. This work involves computers, phones, safes, printers, and all digital systems connected to the network. In addition to handling hardware, system support specialists also test software programs for defects and bugs.

Install and Upgrade Software and Hardware System support specialists install new software and connect new hardware to existing networks. They also upgrade software packages and outdated hardware, which can include adding memory, replacing drives, and installing accessories.

Repair and Install Cables System support specialists install and repair network cables.

Back Up Data System support specialists back up data files and information to prevent loss during system upgrades and equipment replacement procedures.

Remove Viruses and Malware System support specialists remove viruses, malware, and other damaging programs from software.

Train Staff System support specialists train staff members to use various software programs and pieces of hardware, such as network printers.


System Support Specialist Skills and Qualifications

System support specialists need strong computer skills and extensive hardware and software knowledge to perform repairs and installations, and to teach others how to properly use equipment. When hiring these specialists, employers look for individuals who display the following skills:
  • Time management - system support specialists use time management skills to prioritize support tasks and complete job duties efficiently
  • Computer skills - excellent computer skills are essential for system support specialists, who work with multiple types of software and hardware
  • Communication skills - system support specialists need excellent communication skills to listen to problems reported by users and to relay information regarding the proper use of software and equipment
  • Problem-solving skills - system support specialists diagnose and repair problems with software and hardware, which requires strong problem-solving skills
  • Physical fitness - system support specialists lift and move pieces of equipment, and crawl, bend, and squat to install cables and diagnose hardware issues, all of which require physical fitness

System Support Specialist Education and Training

Employer requirements for system support specialists differ based on the complexity of their network systems. Employers commonly require system support specialists to have at least an associate's degree and preferably a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or business. However, some employers will accept candidates who have past technical support experience and no formal education. Little to no job training is provided by employers, as system support specialists should already have the skills and knowledge needed to perform repair, installation, and troubleshooting tasks.

System Support Specialist Salary and Outlook

PayScale data shows that system support specialists earn a median annual income of $49,348. According to information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer support specialists (who perform similar duties) earn $52,810 annually. Projections show this field growing 11 percent by 2026, growth that's faster than the current national average. Most employers provide medical and dental insurance benefits in addition to salary. A majority of system support specialists also receive paid time off as part of their standard benefits package. Because of the travel involved, some employers may additionally provide system support specialists with fuel and mileage allowances.

Helpful Resources

Use these books and websites to find job techniques and tips, learn more about upcoming events, and discover training and educational resources to advance in this career:

CompTIA - this website offers strategies, technology resources, information about training events, educational webinars, and professional networking communities for all IT professionals

Computer Networking from LANs to WANs: Hardware, Software, and Security - read this guide to delve into computer networking in all its forms. The text is accompanied by a companion CD that provides even more in-depth information for system support specialists

Association of Support Professionals - all professionals who provide technical support can make use of the resources at this website, which includes news updates and research reports

Application Administrators Handbook: Installing, Updating and Troubleshooting Software - learn troubleshooting techniques and strategies for installing and updating software programs of all kinds with this book

Association for Computing Machinery - ACM is dedicated to advancing computing as a profession and provides members with conference dates, education opportunities, and a digital library full of resources

PC Help Desk in a Book: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to PC Troubleshooting and Repair - learn how to install software programs and hardware cables, remove viruses, and perform many of the tasks that system support specialists are responsible for with this in-depth guide

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