Computer support specialists help set up and resolve problems with computer hardware and software, generally at the desktop level. Technical support specialists often work as part of a larger IT organization and may do hands-on work setting up computers and networks. Those who assist end-users with computer problems or questions are often called help desk technicians, computer support technicians or computer support specialists. This is not always a 9-to-5 job as most companies require 24/7 support.
National Salary Overview
The median salary for computer support specialists in 2010 was $46,260, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $76,970, while the bottom 10 percent made under $28,300. These numbers are significantly below average compared to other computer positions, which had a median salary of $73,710 in the same year. However, it is much higher than the average of all jobs in the United States, which have a median salary of $33,840 per year.
As with most other jobs, salaries can vary from one state to another. Following is a list of the median salaries for a dozen states in 2010. The numbers in brackets represent the bottom and top ten-percent thresholds, corresponding to the national statistics.
Massachusetts: $56,400 ($36,900 to $90,200)
California: $52,300 ($31,100 to $87,200)
New York: $50,600 ($30,800 to $84,400)
Washington: $49,300 ($31,900 to $83,600)
Texas: $47,000 ($28,600 to $80,400)
Oregon: $46,300 ($30,800 to $71,500)
National: $46,260 ($28,300 to $76,960)
Arizona: $45,000 ($28,500 to $72,200)
Georgia: $44,500 ($25,900 to $71,700))
Michigan: $43,200 ($25,900 to $69,100)
Ohio: $42,000 ($26,900 to $68,100)
Tennessee: $42,000 ($27,300 to $65,200)
Florida: $40,700 ($26,800 to $63,700)
To see how your state compares to these numbers, you can find more information at CareerOneStop.
Salaries Based on Experience
According to recent surveys at PayScale, a computer support specialist with less than five years experience can expect to earn anywhere between $26,000 and $57,000. Those with between five and ten years experience generally earn between $30,000 and $55,000. Those with more than ten years experience can earn between $31,000 and $74,000.
Salaries by Certification
According to Payscale surveys, salaries can vary widely even between support specialists with the same certifications. For example, someone with a Comptia A+ certification may earn between $30,00 and $55,000. Those with a Comptia Network+ certification can earn between $27,000 and $55,000. Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) can earn between $26,000 and $70,000.
Salaries by Industry
Salaries for computer support specialists are rather consistent from one industry to another. Colleges and universities can pay both the highest and lowest salaries, ranging between $26,000 and $69,000, according to Payscale surveys. IT services companies pay between $30,000 to $60,000. Public school systems pay between $31,000 and $43,000. Companies in manufacturing or distribution pay between $38,000 and $50,000. Computer companies, as well as the healthcare industry, pay between $32,000 and $65,000.
The majority of computer support specialists between the ages of 25 and 44 have more than a high school diploma. One third have a bachelor's degree. Sixteen percent have an associate's degree. Seven percent have a master's degree. Twenty-nine percent have some college. Twelve percent have a high school diploma without any college. Only one percent do not have a high school diploma and less than one percent have doctoral or other professional degree.
According to PayScale surveys, a bachelor's degree pays about $3,000 more per year than an associate's degree with a typical salary range between $30,000 to $54,000.
Outlook to 2020
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , there were 607,100 computer support positions in the United States in 2010. This number should increase by 18 percent by 2020 to approximately 717,100 positions. Employers should continue to favor candidates with a bachelor's degree and a previous technical background.