Technology support specialists are in high demand right now and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. These IT pros get to work directly with customers or users of technology, resolving their issues or questions as they arise.
They might also identify potential problems before they happen and proactively recommend solutions. If you’re interested in working as an IT support specialist and have a natural aptitude for solving problems, this job could be a good fit for you.
IT support specialists can work in almost any industry and in many different capacities. Some specialise in a specific area like cybersecurity or IT networks, while others remain generalists with knowledge of multiple technologies.
Regardless of whether you want to focus on general computer science principles or dive into something more niche, these are the certifications you should get if you want to pursue a career as an IT specialist.
What Is IT Support?
IT support is a term used to describe the various services that help businesses and individuals use technology. This can include everything from providing technical assistance to customers to managing and maintaining computer networks.
IT support staff can work in a variety of settings, including large companies, small businesses, government agencies, and even schools and hospitals.
There are many different types of IT support, but some of the most common services include help desk support, desktop support, server administration, and network administration.
Help desk support typically involves providing customer service and technical assistance to users who are having problems with their computers or software.
Desktop support technicians usually provide on-site troubleshooting and repair services for desktop computers. Server administrators manage servers and ensure that they are running smoothly and efficiently.
Network administrators manage and maintain network infrastructure, including routers, switches, and other networking equipment.
Most IT support staff work in teams of two or more, although some may work independently. Help desk support technicians typically work in shifts so that they can provide assistance to users 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Desktop support specialists usually work during regular business hours but may be on-call after hours or on weekends if needed. Server administrators and network administrators typically work full time during regular business hours but may also be on-call as needed.
The Role of IT Support
IT support technicians play an important role in keeping businesses running smoothly. They diagnose and resolve technical problems, often working with customers or other employees who are not as familiar with the inner workings of computers. In some cases, IT support technicians may also be responsible for managing networks or data centre operations.
ITIL stands for information technology infrastructure library. This is a methodology for managing the delivery of IT services. ITIL is used for project management, service transition, service operation, asset management, and knowledge management.
ITIL provides a framework for effective IT service management as well as best practices for IT service delivery. It also helps in ensuring that IT organisations deliver quality services to their customers.
ITIL can be applied to many industries, but it’s especially popular in IT and software development. If you’re interested in working in IT management, ITIL certification is a great start. It can also be helpful if you want to move into consulting.
Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA)
This Cisco certification is one of the most popular entry-level certifications in the IT industry, making it a great place to start your certification journey if you’re new to the field.
The CCNA is a prerequisite certification for many other specialties, including network engineering. The certification tests your ability in the following areas:
Networking Fundamentals: WAN, LAN, WLAN, and WLAN implementation
Routing and Switching: RIP, OSPF, BGP, and CDP
Routing Protocols: EIGRP, DTP, and STP
Network Device Security: ACLs, NAT, and VACLs
Connectivity and Troubleshooting: Syslogs, NetFlow, and SPAN
Data Network Solutions: E-mail, DNS, HTTP, and FTP
Voice Network Solutions: E-mail, DNS, HTTP, and FTP
WAN Implementation: Fiber, DSL, and T1
WLAN Implementation: Wireless LAN, RF, and 802.11b
Network Security: SBGs, IDS, and IPS
Network Management: SNMP and NetFlow
Voice Network Management: SNMP and NetFlow
Connectivity and Troubleshooting: Syslogs, NetFlow, and SPAN
Microsoft 365 MS100/MS101
The Microsoft 365 certification path is designed for professionals who work with Microsoft products in an IT capacity.
The MS100 and MS101 certifications each cover one endpoint of the Microsoft portfolio and provide a great overview to get you started with basic troubleshooting skills.
The MS100 certification focuses on the maintenance and support of Windows 10 devices, while the MS101 certification focuses on Windows 10 servers and the Office 365 suite.
As you progress in your career, you can choose to pursue more advanced certifications within Microsoft’s portfolio. The MS100 certification covers the following topics:
- Deployment of Windows 10 devices
- Monitoring and troubleshooting Windows 10 devices
- Deployment, monitoring, and troubleshooting of Office 365
- Fundamental network administration
- Network security
- Disaster recovery and business continuity
VMware is used in many organisations as the primary environment for running virtual machines. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in virtualisation, you should start with the VMware Certified Associate (VCA) certification. Here’s what you can expect:
- Deploying and managing VMware ESXi hosts
- Managing virtual machines and virtual appliances
- Administering vCenter Server
- Configuring vNetwork switches
- Installing and administering vRealise Orchestration
- Using vRealise Automation to deliver cloud computing
- Configuring and administering vSAN
- Troubleshooting and maintaining a VMware environment
If you’re interested in getting into the Project Management side of IT, PRINCE2 is the industry-standard project management certification. These days, many organisations are moving towards a more agile process for managing their software development and IT operations. The PRINCE2 methodology is a standardised set of processes you can use to plan and manage the production of software and IT resources.
The certification is an industry-recognised standard and could open doors for you in the future if you want to work in an agile environment. Moreover, PRINCE2 is a good fit for those who are interested in pursuing project work.
These are just a few of the key certifications that can help you get started in IT support. In addition to these, there are many other specialised certifications that you can pursue depending on your interests and career goals.
Do some research to find the right fit for you. And if you’re already working in IT support, consider pursuing one or more of these certifications to improve your chances of advancement.