With almost every industry and company going as digital as possible these days, technical problem solvers are in high perpetual demand. This is where professionals like technical support engineers come in.
What Does a Technical Support Engineer Do?
Technical support engineers (sometimes also called information technology/IT technical support engineers) serve as tech gurus for a company. They might work with external users (like customers or clients) or internal users (like employees). IT technical support engineers use their expertise about various tech and computer systems to help troubleshoot issues, or maintain day-to-day operations. Their tasks may include:
- Designing computer systems to meet particular needs for a company
- Providing support for customers or clients in person, via phone, or via computer
- Providing support for employees in person, via phone, or via computer
- Monitoring day-to-day performance of tech systems
- Training people how to use various systems
- Diagnosing and troubleshooting tech problems
- Helping companies implement new hardware or software systems
Technical support engineers can be found virtually anywhere there is tech. These professionals can work in any industry, as there are jobs available in both the private and public sectors.
What Skills Do Technical Support Engineers Have?
Technical support engineers need to have strong tech backgrounds, of course, but they’ll also need a diverse skill set to find a job along that career path—a mix of hard and soft skills.
Technical support engineers need a strong set of hard tech skills, and a strong basis in current technology. Depending on the job itself, they may need to have hands-on experience with specific kinds of hardware, software, applications, and systems.
This role is a service job, no matter whether an engineer is working with colleagues at his or her company, or actual customers or clients. A strong sense of customer service is a major asset, as the engineer will be helping and coaching people of varying tech expertise, and helping make sure their technology is running as it should. Patience is a major asset here.
Part of the technical support engineer’s job is breaking down complex technological concepts so that they can be understood by a lay person who may be using the technology without understanding the sophisticated logic and engineering behind it. Being comfortable with translating concepts for different audiences, being able to present information clearly and articulately, and feeling comfortable with back-and-forth conversations are all essential to the role. Listening skills are also very important here, given that the technical support engineer often needs to diagnose what’s wrong, and how to fix it.
Technical support engineers are, by nature, problem solvers. They help others use technology to do work more efficiently, and they ensure that the technology is working correctly. Companies depend on their technical support team to come up with solutions to make sure that everything is running smoothly, tech-wise. That can mean coming up with creative solutions to tricky problems on the fly, as well as implementing best practices overall to ensure that problems won’t recur.
Tech problems don’t just happen from 9 to 5 on non-holiday weekdays. Technical support engineers may be on call at odd times, or be called in when there’s a crisis, regardless of time. If you’re not open to an “all hands on deck” situation when it comes to your hours, this might not be the best tech job for you.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial to be up on the current technology and methods. The hot apps and systems a year ago might not be the best option now, and companies typically want their tech support team to be as current as possible on tech trends and processes. Being a quick, adaptable learner when it comes to new tech is key for a technical support engineer.
The technical support engineer may be called upon to manage larger projects, like making system changes or implementing new hardware/software. This means having the management and organizational skills to shepherd a project from start to finish, involving the necessary people, sticking to a schedule, and (if applicable) staying on budget.
What Education Do Technical Support Engineers Need?
While the basic education requirements can vary depending on the industry and the company, a technical support engineer typically needs a four-year degree in engineering, computer science, or a similar technical discipline. Experience may be able to trump a degree in some circumstances, but a two-year degree in information technology, computer science, or computer engineering is a bare minimum.
How Much Do Technical Support Engineers Get Paid?
This can be a pretty lucrative field, if you have the skills to go for it. According to PayScale, the median salary for a technical support engineer is $60,674 per year. This can vary according to experience and location, as well as areas of specialty and expertise.
What’s the Outlook for Technical Support Engineers?
This is a field that will continue to grow for the forseeable future, as technology grows ever more sophisticated, and companies need qualified professionals to support it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field will grow by at least 12% by 2024, faster than average for all jobs.
If you have strong tech skills and a passion for helping people solve problems, this can be a great career path for you. As a technical support engineer, you’ll never run out of challenges, and it’s a path that will keep you right on the cutting edge.