IT Specialist Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
Get a realistic view of the education requirements, job duties and salary information of an information technology (IT) specialist. Read about the skills needed, career info and salaries in the occupation to see if this is the right job for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being An IT Specialist

An IT specialist, also known as a computer support specialist, uses their computer to provide assistance to people and organizations. Check out the below pros and cons to see if this career is a fit for you.

Pros of Being an IT Specialist
Over $10,000 higher-than-average mean annual wage of $51,500 (average for all occupations is approximately $47,000)*
Some employers allow working from home*
Job growth expected to be faster than average (17% growth between 2012 and 2022)*
A wide variety of industries to choose from, such as education, telecommunications and health care*

Cons of Being an IT Specialist
May require night and weekend work, and some IT specialists are expected to be available 24 hours*
Some specialized positions require traveling to clients*
Some positions are being transferred overseas, where companies can pay lower salaries to employees*
Employers prefer a bachelor's degree and technical background for employment*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary and Job Duties

Salary Info

In May 2014, the mean annual wage according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for computer support specialists was about $51,500 (www.bls.gov). At that time, the BLS also stated that the top three employing industries of IT specialists were computer systems design and related industries, managers of companies and enterprises, and elementary and secondary schools.

Job Duties

As an IT specialist, also called a 'computer support specialist', you troubleshoot problems and help clients with computer system errors, issues and questions. According to the BLS, in this position, you need customer service, problem solving and information-gathering skills.

IT specialists mainly provide technical support to clients ranging from internal employees to clients, but also provide on-site support to personally solve problems. As an IT specialist, you may work for a company that provides support to many different businesses, or for a particular employer and specialize in their system issues. Other typical job duties include testing current systems and any changes to those systems, maintaining computer networks and repairing computer equipment.

Career Skills and Requirements

Although the BLS states that a degree is not required for an entry-level position in this field, some employers require that applicants have an associate's or bachelor's degree. Other employers require applicants to complete classes in the specialty, or require you to attend their personalized training programs before you are allowed to actively support clients. These training programs can last several months.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Based on information obtained from careerinfonet.org, some skills you may need in this occupation are:

  • Active listening skills
  • Computer skills
  • Communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Telecommunications knowledge
  • Clerical and administrative skills

Job postings found in May 2012 include these skills. Examples of these postings include:

  • A Florida security service company sought an IT specialist to coordinate solutions in information technology with the business' needs and assist in the organization's general operations. A four-year degree or equivalent experience was required, specifically a minimum of five years in the industry for consideration. Applicants needed to be customer-focused and have experience in TQM and re-engineering.
  • A Michigan engineering company was hiring an IT specialist to support its accounting department. Applicants needed to have at least five years experience in the field. An accounting degree was preferred. Experience in some or all of the systems of Microsoft Dynamics, Crystal, VB.NET, ASP.NET, SQL, MRP SYSTEM, Barcode Software, Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Kronos was also required. Applicants also needed to possess advanced proficiency in Microsoft Excel.
  • A Virginia car dealership wanted to hire an IT specialist to configure, maintain and handle operations of its multi-location networking for computers and telephones. Applicants should have five years of experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience, specifically in shell scripting and Linux servers. Any experience in Tel PBX Phone Systems was advantageous. This position was full-time with flexible hours and travel between locations was required.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

To stand out above other applicants in the IT specialist field, education and experience are key. You can pursue a variety of certifications or specialty courses, or you could obtain an associate's or bachelor's degree to gain a leg up in the field.

Certifications

Many colleges and technical schools offer certifications in IT-related subjects or industry-related software programs, such as Oracle, Cisco Systems and Microsoft. Earning one or more certifications may increase your attractiveness to potential employers because it shows your expertise in a subject or specific software program.

Degrees

Earning an associate's degree in an IT-related field is another way to stand out against competition. An associate's degree program in network and system administration, IT information systems security or computer technology support can provide you with background skills helpful to employment. Some schools offer flexible scheduling and accelerated degree options and online coursework to help you earn your degree related to information technology at a faster pace.

Other Career Paths

Computer Programmer

If you enjoy writing computer code, but are not interested in working as an IT specialist, the position of computer programmer may be a career option. This job entails creating computer programs using the code and design needed to meet client specifications. In May 2011, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for computer programmers at that time was about $76,000.

Computer Systems Analyst

Another option is a career as a computer systems analyst. In this job, you improve computer systems to help businesses optimize their workflow, scheduling, accounting and overall operations. According to a May 2011 BLS report, the mean annual wage for computer systems analysts at that time was approximately $82,000.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers are in charge of directing, planning and overall coordination of computer-related improvements. This career may entail working with others in information systems, computer programming and various computer processing departments. In May 2011, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for computer and information systems managers was about $126,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Leadership Studies - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MSIS (Master's)
      • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
      • Business Intelligence - MBA (Master's)
    Associate's
      • Information Technology - Associate
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
      • Master - Information Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Human Resources and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
      • Bachelor: Technology Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
      • MS in Information Technology - Business Intelligence and Analytics
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • BSIT: Network Admin
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • BS in Health Information Management
    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis and Genomics
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology (BS)
    Associate's
      • Information Technology (AS)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
      • PhD-TIM - Data Science
    Master's
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Cybersecurity
      • MSTIM - Data Science
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
      • Master of Science in Data Science
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Data Analytics
      • Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Data Analytics)
    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Instructional Technology
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
      • B.S. in Computer Programming

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Baker College Online

  • Leadership Studies - MBA (Master's)
  • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
  • Information Technology - Associate

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
  • BS - Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis and Genomics

What is your highest level of education?

Argosy University

  • Information Technology (BS)
  • Information Technology (AS)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • MBA - Applied Computer Science
  • MSTIM - Computer Science

What is your highest level of education?