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Helping you get started in IT Support

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Are you interested in a career in technical support? Discover how to become an IT Support Technician with our essential guide.

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IT support isn’t just about understanding how technology works, it also involves people skills. Do you have what it takes?

What is IT support?

IT support offers help and technical support for a range of technology problems, from computers and printers to networks and software packages. It’s usually provided by a team of IT professionals and may focus on supporting a company’s employees or helping third parties, such as home users or business clients.

There are a range of titles for those working in IT support, depending on the job. They include:

  • IT user support technician

  • IT helpdesk technician

  • Service desk technician

  • IT service engineers

What does an IT support technician do every day?

A support technician’s duties can vary considerably. You may work in a single location like your company office or a call centre, or you might be expected to visit clients for face-to-face consultations and support.

Some examples of typical daily duties might include:

  • Finding and fixing faults

  • Installing new systems, plus upgrading existing equipment.

  • Teaching clients or colleagues to use new software

  • Performing regular maintenance – from installing software updates to checking printers and network devices

  • Providing relevant advice – for example, suggesting hardware upgrades to support new software

  • Liaising directly with customers – face-to-face, over the phone or online

  • Making judgement calls on when to refer more complex issues to a more senior colleague

What skills do you need to be an IT support?

IT support isn’t just about understanding how technology works, it also involves people skills. A non-exhaustive list of skills you’ll need includes:

  • Detailed core knowledge of computers, technology and engineering science

  • Confidence using a wide range of hardware, software and operating systems

  • Analytical thinking skills for working through problems to find a solution

  • Attention to detail and thoroughness

  • Strong communication and customer service abilities to explain problems and solutions to non-technical users

  • A willingness to be flexible and to keep learning

Is being an IT support a hard job?

If you’re directly employed by a company in a full-time position, then you can typically expect to work 35-40 hours per week. However, depending on the role, you may have to work both evenings and weekends. There are also additional pressures you may have to deal with, including:

  • Heavy workload. If several problems crop up without warning, you may find yourself juggling numerous requests simultaneously

  • Tight deadlines. Many emergency issues need fixing promptly, adding to the job’s pressure

  • Changing technology. Software and hardware are constantly evolving, forcing you to continuously learn new skills

  • User expectations. Whether dealing with in-house issues or working with external clients, many users rely on their computers and other technology and demand fast fixes to avoid missing their own deadlines

Those considering working for themselves must also consider the following:

  • Irregular working hours. Many clients expect high availability of support, whether on the end of a phone or in person. Finding downtime can be difficult

  • Need for people skills. Communication – and a thick skin – are key to building and maintaining your customer base

  • Experience is vital. It’s not a good idea to launch an IT support business without having first gained experience in the industry. Start out as an apprentice or employee to build the skills you need

How do you get paid as an IT support?

You will either be paid a salary if you’re working for a company, or you will need to charge clients for your time. This can be hourly or daily depending on the type of client and work you do. 

How much should you charge as a beginner in IT support?

If you’re just starting out as an IT support technician, you can expect to earn £16,000 or more per annum in a paid apprenticeship role. As a starter in your field – including gaining experience via a summer internship – salaries start from the equivalent of around £18,000 a year, according to the National Careers Service. As your experience grows, you may be able to command salaries of up to £35,000 a year.

If you’re starting your own IT support business, you will likely be paid per job. This requires setting an hourly rate. How much you charge will depend on where you live. A ballpark figure for IT support freelance rates in the south-east is £75 per hour or £500 per day. Research local companies to see what the average is in your area.

Is it a good career?

IT support staff are always in demand. As you acquire experience in the field, you can climb the following career ladder, taking corresponding bumps in salary as you’re promoted:

  • Technical Support Specialist (TSS)

  • Senior TSS

  • Executive TSS

  • Senior Manager of Technical Support

  • Director of Technical Support

You can also use IT support as a base to train yourself for more well-paid jobs in related fields, including:

  • Business or systems analyst

  • Network engineer

  • Database administrator

  • IT security co-ordinator

  • IT project management

It’s also possible to translate your acquired skills to different spheres. For example:

  • Further education tutor or teacher

  • Technical sales positions

What qualifications do you need to be an IT support?

The minimum requirement to become an IT support technician is to get your core GCSEs, and then add to them. This can be achieved in three ways:

1. Take a college course, such as:

  • Level 2 Certificate in ICT Systems Support (requires 2+ GCSEs with grades 3+/D or higher)

  • Level 3 Diploma in ICT Professional Competence (requires 4-5 GCSEs with grades 4/C or higher)

  • T Level in Digital Support Services (requires 4-5 GCSEs, including English and Maths, with grades 4/C or higher)

2. Get an apprenticeship. You’ll need at least 5 GCSEs, including English and maths, with grades 4/C or higher. Example roles include:

  • IT Solutions Technician Level 3

  • IT Communications Technician Level 3

  • Digital Support Technician Level 3

3. Working towards the role. Look for trainee technician positions that allow you to gain relevant qualifications such CompTIA while gaining experience. You’ll need core IT skills to get such a position.

Some employers may require higher education qualifications relevant to the job, such as information systems or computer science. Others may be happy with a foundation degree or HND in a similar subject, or be content with GCSEs

Freelance IT support qualifications can include any of the above – the better qualified you are, the easier it will be to attract clients. But even if you don’t possess any formal qualifications, it’s worth looking at professional certifications, including those offered by CompTIA. Also, consider investing in various online courses – some of which come with certification – that equip you with the skills to work with specific computer systems like Mac and iPhone.

What do I need to help me be an IT support?

Getting the right qualifications and training are key to starting out in IT support. Once trained, you will also need to keep updating your knowledge to keep up with new systems and technologies. 

If you’re planning to work for yourself, you will need to ensure you get some form of professional indemnity insurance to protect you in case a client sues. You may also need financial support to get your business off the ground – a startup loan is one way to obtain the funds you need. It’s also a good idea to keep your business and personal finances separate with a dedicated business bank account and business credit card. You may also want to investigate card payment solutions.

For more help and advice on starting your own business, check out our business guide.

What equipment do you need?

If you work for a company, you should be provided with all the equipment and services you need to provide IT support for others. If you work for yourself, you’ll need to provide your own equipment – this should include a laptop and phone at the very least. You will also need to utilise various software and cloud-based services, such as software that connects remotely to client computers, and set up a business website.

Can you be in IT support as a side hustle?

Yes, there are part-time IT support jobs available – offering both regular and irregular work. Pay is usually by the hour or day, with some paying £200+ per day.

It’s harder to set up your own part-time business supporting regular clients. That’s because it’s difficult to restrict clients to specific hours or days if they expect you to provide emergency support. The need to react promptly also makes it tricky to combine IT support work with another job, particularly one that involves regular, fixed hours.


What are levels and tiers in IT support?

Tiers and levels in IT support mean the same thing. When IT support logs a request, it assigns the job an ‘IT support level’ or ‘tier of IT support’. This classification reflects the type of task it is, and its complexity, meaning that appropriately qualified IT support technicians can be dispatched to help. The tiers range from Level 0 (entry-level tasks) to Level 3 (complex requests requiring subject matter specialists).

Is being an IT support a good job for introverts?

You will need to build communication skills as you will be interacting with different people in different environments. If you’re uncomfortable interacting with strangers or even colleagues on a regular basis, you prefer a different role.

Can I work remotely?

In some circumstances, yes. If you’re providing internal support to a company, you’ll probably be needed on-site most of the time, but if your role is that of providing call centre support on a remote basis, you may be able to work from home.

How do you find clients as an IT support technician?

If you work for a company, you’ll either provide direct support to your fellow employees or work with the company’s own client base.

If you’re looking to start your own IT support business, then you will need to source your own client base. The Homeworking Club has more tips on starting your own IT support business.

Business insurance is a way to protect your company against financial risk if things go wrong.

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