Career Guide  
Technical Support Representative
I. Job Outlook:

II. Job Requirements/Prerequisites:

III. Education/Training Resources:

IV. Getting A Job:

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Occupation Overview

Just about everyone uses computers today. Wouldn't it be nice if all of the computers and software products in use today were intuitive to use (even to the novice) and always behaved as expected? Unfortunately, this is not the case. As a result, there is a need for people to assist computer users in getting the most from their computer products, leading them through various procedures, and helping them fix problems over the telephone. This is the job of Technical Support Representatives.

While Technical Support Representatives can work for a variety of company types, including computer hardware and peripheral companies, most of the jobs focus on supporting computer software products. There is also some work to be done behind the scenes (e.g., responding to e-mail questions from users), but most of the focus is on providing telephone support. Because support is needed around the clock for some companies, alternate shift work is available.

The need for Technical Support Representatives will continue to grow over the next several years.


Future Growth Opportunities

Opportunities for Advancement:

With experience, one can become a Senior Technical Support Representative, Call Center Manager, or Technical Support Coordinator. With a 4-year degree, it is possible to become a Technical Support Engineer.

Skills Transferable to:

Instructor, Consultant, Customer Service Representative, and PC Repair Technician.


Job Descriptions

Most Technical Support Representatives work in a call center with other Technical Support Representatives. They are on the telephone most of the day, answering questions from end-users. Once the customer adequately describes their current challenge, the Technical Support Representative helps them solve their problem. These calls can last anywhere from 2 minutes to over half an hour, and time is sometimes spent waiting for the customer to perform tasks such as restarting their computer. The Technical Support Representative often documents each call, including the problem encountered and the solution they provided.

In some companies, software is available to assist the Representatives: an expert system helps them identify the problem and then provides step-by-step instructions that are read to the end-user. In other companies, the Representative must have this knowledge in their own heads, being assisted only by documentation and other Representatives. At very small companies, there might be just one or two individuals supporting the software.

Because some companies offer technical support around the clock, variable work schedules are available.

The Technical Support Representatives described in this section offer frontline support to end-users. Technical Support Engineers typically work one step removed from the customer, handling the most difficult situations encountered by Technical Support Representatives (usually newly identified product defects). Technical Support Engineers might also be involved in providing technical assistance to Technical Writers documenting that particular product, as well as providing training classes for new users.

Entry Level ($8-15/hr)

Experienced ($12-34/hr)

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