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Is Desktop Support Dead?

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Is Desktop Support Dead?

jbillie0809
Can you have a career in this field? Can you make a decent salary (60,000+). What's hot and what's not?
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    The Gun Doctor

    I know a few really great techs that would still be an asset at 60K but they may never get that kind of money. Its tough for a manager to get that kind of money for an employee when other techs will work for 40K. They may not be quite as good as some of their peers, but there are plenty of them available. And really, if you're one of the top techs you're likely to get bored or frustrated w/ desktop support and move on to something more interesting.

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    TNT@support

    Desktop Support has become an entry point into the IT field. It's where a lot of people start their careers, so the wage will be lower than those who move into more specialized fields.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    in 1987! In fact that was dumb terminal support. I can say the that the users were as intelligent then as they are now though, so some things don't change.

    ?30k $60k is just about unheard of for straight desktop support. Have to be admin, management or engineering responsibilities on top.

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    FernDotC

    Desktop support will definately exist in the future as a career, but it will have a low ceiling as far as growth potential. However, the experience aquired in this field can be a stepping stone into other areas of IT like Project Management or Asset Management.

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    jimmie.kepler

    I encourage persons to stay put and grow where you are planted. I have been at my current job since 1999. I have seen only one person stay in desktop support that entire time at my company. We have a salary schedule where you know you can grow financially if you do your job and stay put. We also have additional duties like asset management, software management, knowledge base management, and even project management assigned to our desktop support analyst. We support about an equal number of in house and out of house users. We have three levels of analyst 1) analyst, senior analyst, and lead analyst. We have had one person promoted to a Systems Admin, one to a Production Control Engineer, one move back to exclusively supporting external users, some have been managed to pursue other options for poor performance, and several have moved on for more dollars or specialized positions.

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    superdsr

    Local government in Washington State is paying $52K. I love my job. My "customers" are always happy to see me and although it can get a little boring some days, it is rewarding.

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    Why Me Worry?

    not a "Desktop Support Technician". Now that I I got everyone's attention, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I get idiotic headhunters emailing me about desktop support positions, which I am way too overqualified for. When I look at the crazy list of job requirements, what these idiotic companies call "Desktop Support" actually qualifies as "Junior Admin" by true IT standards. The problem with many companies today is that they have gone through plenty of inexperienced and sloppy desktop support technicians who could not handle simple desktop related issues affecting the user community. This in turn results in these companies wanting a senior level IT pro, who is experienced in building servers, to also be willing to perform desktop support duties. Although I can do desktop support, this is not something I want to be doing at this advanced stage of my career. I did desktop support over a decade ago and for me to waste my time and energy on this would require a significant increase in the salary amount that the company is willing to pay for the added role. Desktop support is by no means dead, but today's hiring managers have a very obscure and unrealistic view of what desktop support is supposed to be. Some clueless hiring managers go so far as calling us "programmers" when we have nothing to do with coding whatsoever.

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    Koerper

    If the better desktop support techs get bored or frustrated and move on, that's not such a bad thing. The more knowledge and skill-intensive jobs tend to pay better and that's really where we want to direct our better people anyway.

    That still doesn't justify paying a good desktop support person in beans like so many companies do. My techs work hard and do their jobs well. They might not be network engineer candidates this year, but they deserve more than they get.

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    Marty R. Milette

    You can have a career in any field -- but expecting $60K for desktop support? You'd better have a good PLAN B.

    To be brutally honest -- desktop support is not rocket science. For most retail organizations (Computer Depot, Best Buy, Dell and other major chains) consider it pretty much an entry-level position with a salary just above minimum legal wage.

    Desktop support is a good way to get a foot in the door -- to get some experience, some company-sponsored certifications and training -- but if you want a "career" in the IT field, better set your sights much higher.

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    emmarx1

    And some of the posts explain why!
    "It's an entry level, users can do it"
    attitude. When an end user calls back for
    the third or fourth time with the same
    problem, it becomes an issue for the
    NON IT user just trying to do the job they
    were actually hired for, yet IT departments
    look at support as an entry level position.
    When a salesman loses a $1,000,000 contract
    because he couldn't use his CRM or a stock
    broker misses a trade because of simple
    spyware not properly removed due to an
    inexperienced desktop support "entry level"
    warm body, what is the real savings to the
    company? As far as Best Buy...etc., I find
    PC security articles often reporting up to
    80% of home PC infected with some sort of spyware but as long as the consumer is
    unaware, no harm no foul?

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    kdships

    The truth is that the world is experiencing galloping change and so is somethings in it. Why did Comptia review their A+ exams? What we should be tallking about is the wage increase and not the job description.

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    cheri.spellman

    I really agree with everyone - all the answers are valid. You can get good money doing Desktop support for smaller companies. (Picture 1 computer down - 5 high priced people standing around scratching their heads). Owners cringe at these thoughts.

    You can alo make good money as an independent consultant making house calls for home users (there is a high frustration level there).

    As to Big Corps - look elsewhere - those are primarily the ones who are outsourcing those jobs to places with a lower cost of living.

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    wallowamichael

    There is a niche market that can net you even more than $60k if you work for it, just doing PC support. You should know a little about networks, e-mail systems, VPN, and home internet access, but basically PC support.<BR><BR>
    It's house calls for the executives of companies. You have to be on your game, and good at what you do, since most CxO can read you like a book, and if you fake it, you're out! I had a PC guy that worked for me in San Francisco, neat, clean, very personable, and LOVED pc support. I figured out that I could sell service contracts to the CFO, CEO, President, etc. of the corporations we were doing network support for to do house calls! It worked great! My PC guy could fix anything, make peripherals work together, and slept with the MSDN CDs under his pillow. The CEOs stopped asking their internal pc support for house calls and used us instead.<BR><BR>
    These people want their PCs at home to work just like they do at work. The worker bee in the IT group doesn't want to deal with the boss at his house, so we did it for them. It was quite lucrative (until the tech bomb), and I'm thinking of trying to start it up again, when I find the perfect PC guy.<BR><BR>
    The hours are bad, there's weekend work, and other things that make life stressful. If you're single and have some energy, I suggest you try it. In the mid - late 90's I was charging (In SF, keep in mind) $150/hour for PC support to CxO level home users. They paid happily, and I was able to bill 24-26 hours a week on average.<BR><BR>
    Good Luck!

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    As to Big Corps - look elsewhere - those are primarily the ones who are outsourcing those jobs to places with a lower cost of living.

    You lost me here. How do you outsource a job that requires hands-on work and face-to-face contact with the end user?

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    Why Me Worry?

    but I see where the statement of desktop support outsourcing is coming from. Call centers operated by companies like Dell and Gateway are not providing "desktop support" services, but are easily confused as somehow being "desktop support". As you stated, desktop support requires personal face-to-face interaction, which simply cannot be done with someone working out of Bangalore, India, or San Jose, Central America.

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    JamesRL

    You can have outsourcing - your job is done by another company, and offshoring, your job is done by someone in another country/location.

    My desktop support job in the early 90s was outsourced to the vendor who sold us hardware. They provided my company with desktop support techs who took cases from our internal help desk. My peers and I were given other jobs in the company, I became a project leader for desktop projects.

    Pretty soon I had to take on a side project. The side project was improving the customer satisfaction between the desktop techs and the customers. I started sitting in on the interviews, reveiwing issues with them, talking to customers. I learned a lot. And their service did improve. We held a weekly meeting to review all the high severity issues and how they were handled.

    So you can outsource to a local supplier. That company eventually outsourced all IT, including programming, to a third party.

    James

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    Dr_Zinj

    But the majority top out around $40K, nowhere near $60K.

    You want $60K for desktop support, you need to have a couple of things down.

    1. You are the top 1% in the desktop support field, world-wide.

    2. You work in a niche market. Banking, securities, commodities, legal, etc. And I can tell you that even legal offices will only pay a starvation wage/fee unless you make sure they understand that you are the top 1%.

    3. You find a company that doesn't understand to market value of desktop support, and doesn't use Salary.com. Wait a minute, that falls unter item 2 too.

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    IT cowgirl

    Call Center Desktop Support and then hands-on Desktop Support are the entry level into IT jobs. They do not pay very well (In Okla and Tex $10/hr entry up to $15/hr for expert).

    There will always be a need for Desktop support for the users. They all need a person to talk to and assist them. Even the most simple issues are best solved via perception by hands-on assist. Users will always feel best when someone actally touches their sstem, even to just reboot.

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    dwilliams

    $10 and $15 per hour is fairly low, perhaps it the market there? Also you must consider the fact that, not all desktop support techs are responsible for the same service level, it all depends on the company.

    If you are a full service desktop technician, you will have no limitations of support which entails a great deal of expertise. This will warrant a compensation for your skills that more than exceed a 30k a year salary.

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    JonathanPDX

    I had someone refer to me as a geek the other day. I quickly pointed out that I was a 'Tech,' not a 'Geek' or a 'Nerd.' Techs are pros, the others simply wannabes who end up making more problems that the Techs have to fix. The Geeks and Nerds are cheap and you usually get what pay for, too.

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    dean.owen

    Consumers and some corps don't (can't? won't?) see the difference.

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    mag7ue

    I've always corrected people when I'm referred to as a "computer geek" or "computer nerd." I'll allow "computer expert", but I'm not and never will be a geek. Computer geeks stay computer geeks. The rest of us actually move up in the company.

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    BALTHOR

    IBM is the place to be.

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    rmbarge

    It's easy to make $60,000 in desktop support. Quit your job and advertise your services at $60/hour. People are screaming for at-home computer help. Have you seen what the "Geek Squad" gets for installing RAM? $39 if you haul your box into a Best Buy. That works out to about $800 an hour, LOL.

    I haven't had a job since 1985 when I figured out that my employer was keeping 62% of my earnings.

    This is America. Don't "yes,but" yourself into working for someone else.

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    dlynwild1

    Can a computer-saavy "do-it-yourselfer" (but not formally educated techie) with strong lateral-thinking skills get started doing this or do you have to go back to college for 1-2 yrs?? Are there entry-level support roles out there, where you can learn more as you go? Seems the independent contractor AND job-market are both jam-packed with degree-holding post-dot-com-crash techie survivors...

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    ttocsmij

    Exactly his point: advertise; if you know what you're doing and solve the Customer's problem quickly and properly, word will spread and you'll probably end up with more work than you handle; if you don't know what you're doing and you take forever screwing up the Customer's computer even more ... well, frankly the only sure bets are fields where there will always be a need for folks: food service and health care.

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    JamesRL

    Way back in the late 80s, I used to charge $75 an hour to small businesses who wanted my services. I would setup/install HW, SW, Networks for both Macs and PCs.

    I found it was a great week when I could bill 20 hours a week - customers wont pay travel time or time you spent ordering equipment, answering the phone, billing, making notes etc.

    But in the 80s 20x $75 = $1500 a week before taxes, it wasn't bad money at all. But some weeks it was 40 hours, some 10. I also made a little money selling HW and software.

    So some of that 62% is justifiable overhead.

    James

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    templink

    You will likely have to take on additional responsibilites beyond desktop support to earn 60+. Many techs are forced to "grow or go" to earn the higher wages.

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    jmadera

    I'm currently in DS (desktop support) and i learned to grow and learn. My company I'm working for started out with 10 employees in IT and 4 were techs that supported the network and desktops. Being one of the 4 I learned networking, cicso commands, servers, and more. Now only desktop is what they say I do. With about 25 in IT and 4 desktop techs now, our job includes desktop support for 50 remote locations, A/V setup and support, house calls for executives, laptop support, VPN support, phones, purchasing, and now blackberry support.

    Don't get me wrong but I like growth! Nothing wrong with learning more but when they don't compensate for all the extra work, and then it becomes an issue.

    Specializing in one area is the only way to earn the $$.

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    Jshee42

    Very true. Specializing is the only way to grow in IT. I was making (at my peak for DS) a little over $40k. I KNEW I was overpaid, but I was also the sole tech supporting 600+ users and most of them with their own PC's so I didn't complain. Needless to say, I kept very busy and got an excellent opportunity for my hard work. Now I've begun the specialization Database Administration and I'll never look back at PC's again......

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    The Gun Doctor

    I know a few really great techs that would still be an asset at 60K but they may never get that kind of money. Its tough for a manager to get that kind of money for an employee when other techs will work for 40K. They may not be quite as good as some of their peers, but there are plenty of them available. And really, if you're one of the top techs you're likely to get bored or frustrated w/ desktop support and move on to something more interesting.

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    TNT@support

    Desktop Support has become an entry point into the IT field. It's where a lot of people start their careers, so the wage will be lower than those who move into more specialized fields.

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    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    in 1987! In fact that was dumb terminal support. I can say the that the users were as intelligent then as they are now though, so some things don't change.

    ?30k $60k is just about unheard of for straight desktop support. Have to be admin, management or engineering responsibilities on top.

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    0 Votes
    FernDotC

    Desktop support will definately exist in the future as a career, but it will have a low ceiling as far as growth potential. However, the experience aquired in this field can be a stepping stone into other areas of IT like Project Management or Asset Management.

    +
    0 Votes
    jimmie.kepler

    I encourage persons to stay put and grow where you are planted. I have been at my current job since 1999. I have seen only one person stay in desktop support that entire time at my company. We have a salary schedule where you know you can grow financially if you do your job and stay put. We also have additional duties like asset management, software management, knowledge base management, and even project management assigned to our desktop support analyst. We support about an equal number of in house and out of house users. We have three levels of analyst 1) analyst, senior analyst, and lead analyst. We have had one person promoted to a Systems Admin, one to a Production Control Engineer, one move back to exclusively supporting external users, some have been managed to pursue other options for poor performance, and several have moved on for more dollars or specialized positions.

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    superdsr

    Local government in Washington State is paying $52K. I love my job. My "customers" are always happy to see me and although it can get a little boring some days, it is rewarding.

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    Why Me Worry?

    not a "Desktop Support Technician". Now that I I got everyone's attention, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I get idiotic headhunters emailing me about desktop support positions, which I am way too overqualified for. When I look at the crazy list of job requirements, what these idiotic companies call "Desktop Support" actually qualifies as "Junior Admin" by true IT standards. The problem with many companies today is that they have gone through plenty of inexperienced and sloppy desktop support technicians who could not handle simple desktop related issues affecting the user community. This in turn results in these companies wanting a senior level IT pro, who is experienced in building servers, to also be willing to perform desktop support duties. Although I can do desktop support, this is not something I want to be doing at this advanced stage of my career. I did desktop support over a decade ago and for me to waste my time and energy on this would require a significant increase in the salary amount that the company is willing to pay for the added role. Desktop support is by no means dead, but today's hiring managers have a very obscure and unrealistic view of what desktop support is supposed to be. Some clueless hiring managers go so far as calling us "programmers" when we have nothing to do with coding whatsoever.

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    0 Votes
    Koerper

    If the better desktop support techs get bored or frustrated and move on, that's not such a bad thing. The more knowledge and skill-intensive jobs tend to pay better and that's really where we want to direct our better people anyway.

    That still doesn't justify paying a good desktop support person in beans like so many companies do. My techs work hard and do their jobs well. They might not be network engineer candidates this year, but they deserve more than they get.

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    Marty R. Milette

    You can have a career in any field -- but expecting $60K for desktop support? You'd better have a good PLAN B.

    To be brutally honest -- desktop support is not rocket science. For most retail organizations (Computer Depot, Best Buy, Dell and other major chains) consider it pretty much an entry-level position with a salary just above minimum legal wage.

    Desktop support is a good way to get a foot in the door -- to get some experience, some company-sponsored certifications and training -- but if you want a "career" in the IT field, better set your sights much higher.

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    0 Votes
    emmarx1

    And some of the posts explain why!
    "It's an entry level, users can do it"
    attitude. When an end user calls back for
    the third or fourth time with the same
    problem, it becomes an issue for the
    NON IT user just trying to do the job they
    were actually hired for, yet IT departments
    look at support as an entry level position.
    When a salesman loses a $1,000,000 contract
    because he couldn't use his CRM or a stock
    broker misses a trade because of simple
    spyware not properly removed due to an
    inexperienced desktop support "entry level"
    warm body, what is the real savings to the
    company? As far as Best Buy...etc., I find
    PC security articles often reporting up to
    80% of home PC infected with some sort of spyware but as long as the consumer is
    unaware, no harm no foul?

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    0 Votes
    kdships

    The truth is that the world is experiencing galloping change and so is somethings in it. Why did Comptia review their A+ exams? What we should be tallking about is the wage increase and not the job description.

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    0 Votes
    cheri.spellman

    I really agree with everyone - all the answers are valid. You can get good money doing Desktop support for smaller companies. (Picture 1 computer down - 5 high priced people standing around scratching their heads). Owners cringe at these thoughts.

    You can alo make good money as an independent consultant making house calls for home users (there is a high frustration level there).

    As to Big Corps - look elsewhere - those are primarily the ones who are outsourcing those jobs to places with a lower cost of living.

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    0 Votes
    wallowamichael

    There is a niche market that can net you even more than $60k if you work for it, just doing PC support. You should know a little about networks, e-mail systems, VPN, and home internet access, but basically PC support.<BR><BR>
    It's house calls for the executives of companies. You have to be on your game, and good at what you do, since most CxO can read you like a book, and if you fake it, you're out! I had a PC guy that worked for me in San Francisco, neat, clean, very personable, and LOVED pc support. I figured out that I could sell service contracts to the CFO, CEO, President, etc. of the corporations we were doing network support for to do house calls! It worked great! My PC guy could fix anything, make peripherals work together, and slept with the MSDN CDs under his pillow. The CEOs stopped asking their internal pc support for house calls and used us instead.<BR><BR>
    These people want their PCs at home to work just like they do at work. The worker bee in the IT group doesn't want to deal with the boss at his house, so we did it for them. It was quite lucrative (until the tech bomb), and I'm thinking of trying to start it up again, when I find the perfect PC guy.<BR><BR>
    The hours are bad, there's weekend work, and other things that make life stressful. If you're single and have some energy, I suggest you try it. In the mid - late 90's I was charging (In SF, keep in mind) $150/hour for PC support to CxO level home users. They paid happily, and I was able to bill 24-26 hours a week on average.<BR><BR>
    Good Luck!

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    As to Big Corps - look elsewhere - those are primarily the ones who are outsourcing those jobs to places with a lower cost of living.

    You lost me here. How do you outsource a job that requires hands-on work and face-to-face contact with the end user?

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    0 Votes
    Why Me Worry?

    but I see where the statement of desktop support outsourcing is coming from. Call centers operated by companies like Dell and Gateway are not providing "desktop support" services, but are easily confused as somehow being "desktop support". As you stated, desktop support requires personal face-to-face interaction, which simply cannot be done with someone working out of Bangalore, India, or San Jose, Central America.

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    0 Votes
    JamesRL

    You can have outsourcing - your job is done by another company, and offshoring, your job is done by someone in another country/location.

    My desktop support job in the early 90s was outsourced to the vendor who sold us hardware. They provided my company with desktop support techs who took cases from our internal help desk. My peers and I were given other jobs in the company, I became a project leader for desktop projects.

    Pretty soon I had to take on a side project. The side project was improving the customer satisfaction between the desktop techs and the customers. I started sitting in on the interviews, reveiwing issues with them, talking to customers. I learned a lot. And their service did improve. We held a weekly meeting to review all the high severity issues and how they were handled.

    So you can outsource to a local supplier. That company eventually outsourced all IT, including programming, to a third party.

    James

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    0 Votes
    Dr_Zinj

    But the majority top out around $40K, nowhere near $60K.

    You want $60K for desktop support, you need to have a couple of things down.

    1. You are the top 1% in the desktop support field, world-wide.

    2. You work in a niche market. Banking, securities, commodities, legal, etc. And I can tell you that even legal offices will only pay a starvation wage/fee unless you make sure they understand that you are the top 1%.

    3. You find a company that doesn't understand to market value of desktop support, and doesn't use Salary.com. Wait a minute, that falls unter item 2 too.

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    0 Votes
    IT cowgirl

    Call Center Desktop Support and then hands-on Desktop Support are the entry level into IT jobs. They do not pay very well (In Okla and Tex $10/hr entry up to $15/hr for expert).

    There will always be a need for Desktop support for the users. They all need a person to talk to and assist them. Even the most simple issues are best solved via perception by hands-on assist. Users will always feel best when someone actally touches their sstem, even to just reboot.

    +
    0 Votes
    dwilliams

    $10 and $15 per hour is fairly low, perhaps it the market there? Also you must consider the fact that, not all desktop support techs are responsible for the same service level, it all depends on the company.

    If you are a full service desktop technician, you will have no limitations of support which entails a great deal of expertise. This will warrant a compensation for your skills that more than exceed a 30k a year salary.

    +
    0 Votes
    JonathanPDX

    I had someone refer to me as a geek the other day. I quickly pointed out that I was a 'Tech,' not a 'Geek' or a 'Nerd.' Techs are pros, the others simply wannabes who end up making more problems that the Techs have to fix. The Geeks and Nerds are cheap and you usually get what pay for, too.

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    0 Votes
    dean.owen

    Consumers and some corps don't (can't? won't?) see the difference.

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    0 Votes
    mag7ue

    I've always corrected people when I'm referred to as a "computer geek" or "computer nerd." I'll allow "computer expert", but I'm not and never will be a geek. Computer geeks stay computer geeks. The rest of us actually move up in the company.

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    BALTHOR

    IBM is the place to be.

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    0 Votes
    rmbarge

    It's easy to make $60,000 in desktop support. Quit your job and advertise your services at $60/hour. People are screaming for at-home computer help. Have you seen what the "Geek Squad" gets for installing RAM? $39 if you haul your box into a Best Buy. That works out to about $800 an hour, LOL.

    I haven't had a job since 1985 when I figured out that my employer was keeping 62% of my earnings.

    This is America. Don't "yes,but" yourself into working for someone else.

    +
    0 Votes
    dlynwild1

    Can a computer-saavy "do-it-yourselfer" (but not formally educated techie) with strong lateral-thinking skills get started doing this or do you have to go back to college for 1-2 yrs?? Are there entry-level support roles out there, where you can learn more as you go? Seems the independent contractor AND job-market are both jam-packed with degree-holding post-dot-com-crash techie survivors...

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    0 Votes
    ttocsmij

    Exactly his point: advertise; if you know what you're doing and solve the Customer's problem quickly and properly, word will spread and you'll probably end up with more work than you handle; if you don't know what you're doing and you take forever screwing up the Customer's computer even more ... well, frankly the only sure bets are fields where there will always be a need for folks: food service and health care.

    +
    0 Votes
    JamesRL

    Way back in the late 80s, I used to charge $75 an hour to small businesses who wanted my services. I would setup/install HW, SW, Networks for both Macs and PCs.

    I found it was a great week when I could bill 20 hours a week - customers wont pay travel time or time you spent ordering equipment, answering the phone, billing, making notes etc.

    But in the 80s 20x $75 = $1500 a week before taxes, it wasn't bad money at all. But some weeks it was 40 hours, some 10. I also made a little money selling HW and software.

    So some of that 62% is justifiable overhead.

    James

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    0 Votes
    templink

    You will likely have to take on additional responsibilites beyond desktop support to earn 60+. Many techs are forced to "grow or go" to earn the higher wages.

    +
    0 Votes
    jmadera

    I'm currently in DS (desktop support) and i learned to grow and learn. My company I'm working for started out with 10 employees in IT and 4 were techs that supported the network and desktops. Being one of the 4 I learned networking, cicso commands, servers, and more. Now only desktop is what they say I do. With about 25 in IT and 4 desktop techs now, our job includes desktop support for 50 remote locations, A/V setup and support, house calls for executives, laptop support, VPN support, phones, purchasing, and now blackberry support.

    Don't get me wrong but I like growth! Nothing wrong with learning more but when they don't compensate for all the extra work, and then it becomes an issue.

    Specializing in one area is the only way to earn the $$.

    +
    0 Votes
    Jshee42

    Very true. Specializing is the only way to grow in IT. I was making (at my peak for DS) a little over $40k. I KNEW I was overpaid, but I was also the sole tech supporting 600+ users and most of them with their own PC's so I didn't complain. Needless to say, I kept very busy and got an excellent opportunity for my hard work. Now I've begun the specialization Database Administration and I'll never look back at PC's again......