How to Start a Career in IT Help Desk – Ultimate Guide

I remember as a young teen, my grandfather continuously pushed me toward finding a job in tech. He mentioned over and over that the industry would continue to grow, like a twisting vine feeding off both advancement and the human ability to create efficiency. As long as humans strived to create easier tools for daily life, tech careers would continue to grow. Whether IT help desk roles or engineering careers, there would always be reliable and lucrative jobs.

At the end of the day, he proved to be correct.

On one hand, IT jobs continue to be lucrative. The average of IT-based salaries is still higher than any other industry in the country. Secondly, they still continue to exist. 267,000 jobs were added to the tech market in 2022, and that was amidst the strange dropoff that followed the pandemic hiring panic.

Despite global tech businesses laying off almost 150,000 workers in 2022, jobs still continued to grow. While contradicting, it makes sense. With the introduction of new technology and methods comes the introduction of new jobs, creating an ever-ebbing-and-flowing wave of new tech jobs, new tech roles, and new ways to go about them.

Therefore, when a professional decides they want to jump into an entry-level tech job like an IT help desk role, you can’t balk at them. They want to become part of a lucrative industry that has withstood the test of time like a metallic colossus.

But how does one start an IT help desk career? Where do you even begin? You are in the right place.

At Tier2Tek Staffing, we specialize in IT help desk recruitment. We’ve been doing it for over a decade. Therefore, we know what companies are looking for in their candidates. Here is our kinda-quick-but-ultimately-ultimate guide to becoming a service desk worker:

What Is IT Help Desk?

When discussing tech jobs, it’s easy to get confused. As noted, there are always new roles on the horizon. And with the tech lexicon being just as limited as the human language, you can find some overlap of description and title. So, before we even begin to break down the tips to become a help desk technician, we need to clearly define the role.

Overall, IT help desk technicians can easily be confused with service desk workers, call center representatives, IT support workers, and so on. And, to be fair, they all do have similar tasks and responsibilities within the team. Usually, the difference is a matter of medium.

To define it simply, the IT help desk is the act of helping a customer or employee with technical issues. For example, if a customer calls a company with a problem relating to the produced software or hardware, the help desk will be the first point of contact. They will work with the customer to address the issue before sending the customer to a more in-depth technical representative.

They may also be asked to provide the same help and troubleshooting services to coworkers in the building. We often refer to this job as IT support, though. By most definitions, IT support workers are the ones that focus on the in-house technical issues. Like an IT maintenance worker for an office.

Help desk usually takes calls, answers messages, or reads emails from customers and clients. They then help to resolve issues or report the customers to the correct higher-ups (i.e. expert technicians and engineers). Obviously, depending on the exact sub industry or product, these tasks may vary.

Example Responsibilities

  • Answers and appropriately handles customer support requests via phone, e-mail, voice mail, and IM.
  • Responds to telephone calls, e-mail, and personal requests for technical support.
  • Documents, tracks, and monitors all work items and resolution activity in the tracking system to ensure a timely resolution.
  • Documents, tracks, and monitors all issues in ServiceDesk to ensure timely resolution.
  • Follows up with customers to ensure issues have been resolved.
  • Documents, tracks, and monitors all IT assets including hardware, software, desk phones, cell phones, etc.
  • Performs remote control tasks with end users (Apple and Windows).
  • Escalates issues of higher complexity to Tier 2 and Tier 3 specialists when appropriate.
  • Provides resolution to all desktop and laptop support requests (Phone, Email, etc).
  • Searches online for possible solutions when they aren’t documented in our knowledge base. Creates and updates knowledge articles in the IT knowledge base.
  • Troubleshoots system failures and identifies opportunities for improvement.
  • Proactively manages the help desk case management system.
  • Implements solutions with proper documentation.
  • Responsible for tracking hardware/software inventory.
  • Provides basic active directory administration (user-related login, password, ID lookup).
  • Performs network troubleshooting to isolate and diagnose common network problems.

Average Salary

According to GlassDoor, the average salary for an IT Help Desk Technician is $50,247 a year.

What Schooling Is Needed?

Now comes the question: what’s the pathway to becoming a help desk technician? If the tech industry is such a lucrative place to exist, then getting there must take an ample amount of schooling and dedication.

Not really!

The Help Desk or Service Desk Support role is often considered an entry-level job. Oftentimes, those hired for support roles, like customer service representatives, have no prior experience in the exact field. They may have experience in a customer relations role and are then trained to handle inquiries regarding the employer’s specific products. You may need some experience in the field, but a master’s degree is not often required.

Ultimately, companies are usually willing to take on entry-level employees for their help desk positions, just like non-tech companies hire customer service representatives. They can train you on the product itself, teaching you the technical troubleshooting required.

No Degree? No Problem!

You are able to land a help desk job off of related experience and intangibles, sure, but degrees are always a plus. Overall, having a related degree would boost you above all the other entry-level competition when applying, almost guaranteeing a role. The issue is the overall worth, though. If you don’t need a degree to get a job, then it may be a waste of your time and money. You could take the time you would be getting a degree and use it toward the position, moving up the ladder.

We aren’t going to dictate whether or not you should go to college, though. We just feel the need to point out that it’s not entirely necessary for the role.

If you want to get further schooling, you can look for degrees in related roles like information technology, computer science, or network administration. Unfortunately, there isn’t a degree for IT help desks specifically. Not yet, at least.

Certifications Are Always a Plus

Certifications are a fantastic way to build your resume. Fortunately, there are a plethora of certifications available in the IT support field. Not only do certifications show your expertise in the field, but they show your commitment to furthering your applicable education. Anything you can add to your portfolio will help you land a gig, especially if you are deciding to forgo a college education.

Luckily, there are tons (and we mean tons) of certifications regarding IT. As a support worker, you don’t truly need to worry about high-level certifications but can work on the ones related to basic IT knowledge. Obviously, if you want to go beyond the entry certs, you can. It will only help.

Here are the 3 most relevant certifications for entry-level IT jobs (like help desk technicians):

CompTIA A+

The CompTIA A+ certification is an ideal IT credential for beginners, especially those working within an IT help desk. Overall, the certification assures that the candidate can install, configure and maintain personal computers, mobile devices, printers, and laptops. It demonstrates both basic technical abilities and troubleshooting skills, things crucial for help desk support.


An ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, certification demonstrates that the professional understands the basics of information technology and has learned how to apply it to both customer and business needs. The basis of this certification surrounds IT-related assets, accessibility, and resources that deliver value and benefits to customers. From delivery to maintenance, the basic ITIL certification shows that the candidate understands the interworkings of the related software or hardware.

Google IT Support

Google provides associate certifications for all of its pillar software and general IT support. Through a Google class and certification program, the candidate will learn the basics of computer setup, troubleshooting, binary systems, and other basic IT methodologies. Simply put, it’s a crash course for general IT support provided by Google professionals.

Customer Service Is Key

Here’s the thing: due to the nature of the position being entry-level, employers will be looking for candidates that they can mold. Therefore, they may not be as hyperfocused on your IT abilities, for they can teach those to you. They will be worried about the intangibles they can’t teach you. The skills you have naturally. The main skill is customer service abilities.

Not only does the help desk employee represent the company, but they work in high-tension scenarios. More often than not, the customer calling is having an issue. Therefore, they are more likely to become upset with the representative or company. The technician has to understand this and be willing to handle the situation. They have to be experts in the craft of communication and customer experience.

An employer can teach you the ins and outs of the product you will troubleshoot. They will have a harder time teaching you how to communicate. Therefore, going into a help desk job with customer service abilities is a must.

If you have experience in a customer service role, great. You may already be ahead of the competition (even those that have IT backgrounds). In fact, a person with IT experience and no customer service work may often be overlooked for candidates with little IT experience and tons of customer service work. It’s baffling, but it’s true.

Zippia found that 12.7% of help desk workers have customer service skills listed on their resumes. The next skill is troubleshooting at 7.9%. That’s how significant customer service ability is to this position.

If you don’t have customer service jobs and skills on your resume, place them ASAP.

Network and Network

We can sit and try to tell you how to start a career in tech all day, but like any career, it starts with who you know. Whether you are a fresh face or a veteran in the IT world, you need to meet useful acquaintances.

Asking others how to start a career in tech is crucial, too. Consequently, no one jumps into a career without knowing a few people. Networking is important for any profession.

Connect with other IT security workers over social media and forum platforms, reach out to experts for advice, and send emails to other specialists for help or tips. Build a network of other people for education and advice. This networking may always lead to references, new skills, or potential job openings.

Furthermore, keep an eye out for help desk conferences, workshops, and online meetings. There are always a ton of ways to meet other professionals in the field. Go meet people, ask questions, and be pleasant. You never know where your new friends may lead you.

Take Other Entry-Level Jobs, If Necessary

If customer service is so important, then having customer service jobs should be just as helpful as other tech roles. Right?

You may be correct.

Here’s the thing: we can’t always guarantee an immediate job, even regarding a job that’s entry-level. Unfortunately, the capitalist world we live in (as beautiful as it is) requires money to operate. Money to live. So, though IT service roles maybe your current dream, they may be out of the equation. Depending on your location and ability to relocate, you might have a harder time finding a job than you imagined.

If you can’t immediately score a job in the role, you still need to work (probably). If that’s the case, you may need to look to other roles in the tech industry. It’s possible that there are other entry-level tech positions available, even if they aren’t in customer service or tech support.

For example, you might find an entry-level trainer or analyst position. Though it isn’t service desk tech, you should still apply. This work will give you experience in both tech and customer service.

If Not

If you can’t find any job in tech that’s willing to bring you on, continue to build your education and resume with certifications and courses. During the higher-education, look for jobs that will build corresponding skills.

Have we said customer service yet?

If you can’t find a job in tech, look for a customer service representative role. Not only does this directly correlate to service desk, but it will help build your resume for the position. If you have worked as a representative, you are going to have a much easier time finding service desk roles

What Skills Are Crucial?

At this point, we’ve already beaten the customer service drum to death (and we’ll mention it again here shortly). If you are attempting to start a career in IT support, you have to be great at customer service. We’ve made that abundantly clear.

But what about the other skills that should be present on your resume? Are there any other abilities that hiring managers are looking for in candidates?

Absolutely! A candidate’s resume can’t only involve customer service. There’s got to be a bit more meat on the bone, after all.

Here are the 4 skills to make sure your resume includes, whether in a skills section or throughout your correlating work history. If you have experience and great abilities in these categories, you are on your way.


As we’ve noted, the IT Help Desk worker needs to be able to communicate clearly and efficiently. Oftentimes, the people calling may not be as technically advanced as you. Therefore, you need to be able to discuss issues and direct fixes with colloquial language.

Also, the job deals with communicating with both upset and irate customers. Henceforth, the ability to handle high-stress customer scenarios is key to becoming a great Help Desk worker.

Ultimately, the candidate must be able to empathize with customers, understand their problems, and defuse upset situations. Once defused, they must be able to explain the solutions or next steps with clarity and brevity. No one wants to get stuck on the phone with a customer service rep that can’t express the solution directly.

Record Keeping

Oftentimes, the IT Help Desk worker will deal with thousands of customers weekly. To help keep track of everything, they are often asked to take detailed notes regarding each customer, each problem, and how the issues were solved. This information is then used to speed up processes in the future, allowing the department to work with more customers.

Therefore, the specialist needs great record-keeping and ticket-transferring abilities.

Most times, you will be asked to use a business-specific program, often maintaining all of the information about the calling customer. This gives you a clear place to keep affiliated notes and review the ones already placed. Once you have a clear understanding of the correlating program, your record-keeping skills will be adept.

Time Management

Support workers deal with hundreds of calls a day. A representative may deal with their own slew of customers, regardless of chat or call mediums. Therefore, you must have a strong understanding of time management. Customers don’t want to wait, so the rep should be able to get through calls efficiently and successfully.

Sometimes, a worker may even be put on a customer quota, having to help a certain amount of customers during a shift. Time management is crucial.


Ultimately, you are working to help others figure out their product-related issues. Therefore, you need to have a great foundation regarding troubleshooting and problem-solving. If you cannot address issues and provide potential fixes, you will find yourself with a plethora of irate customers growing angrier.

The IT worker has to be able to identify issues and provide solutions. Naturally, this skill will come over time and with exposure to other issues. For example, you may see in a customer’s notes how a specific problem was fixed. Now, you will be able to apply that information to issues that seem similar in the future.

Overall, the worker must have a strong understanding of tech itself. If you understand the product at hand, you will be able to figure out issues and solutions quickly, keeping the pace high and customer irritation low.

Work With a Staffing Agency

Here comes some self-promotion. Shameless, nonetheless.

If you are having trouble findings gigs as a new IT worker, or need more information on where to start, you can always reach out to a staffing agency. Despite misconceptions, working with a staffing agency as an employee is free. We help you find a job and then receive payment from the employer. We don’t get paid until you do. It’s always free to reach out to us. One of our dedicated recruiters can provide both career advice and resume edits free of charge.

How to start a career in IT can be as simple as. Well. Starting!

Need More Job-Search Advice?

We can break down every facet of IT Help Desk Technicians and gigs, but there is more to finding a dream job than just having the correct background. You also have to be able to nail the interview, negotiate the salary, write a cover letter, and a plethora of other job-winning techniques.

Luckily, we’ve been at this forever. We have already covered hundreds of topics regarding finding a career. From interview examples to sample cover letters, you can find an array of job-winning advice throughout our site.

Let’s win that dream job together.

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