In a piece published today on Computerworld, Thomas Hoffman writes that people look at the career opportunities for Help Desk pros two ways: One, that the Help Desk is a dead-end job and two, that it is a perfect opportunity to see how a company works and flex your people skills.
For the first view, Hoffman quotes Fred Wagner, a FileNet and Kofax systems specialist for the city of Long Beach, California, as saying, "If you're hired just to work on a help desk, that's all you will ever do."
Help desk technicians who work in "stovepiped" IT organizations — that is, companies where systems analysts, network managers, and other IT professionals are segregated from one another — can go 10 to 15 years without being promoted into IT infrastructure, business analyst, systems administrator, or other types of roles, he says.
The second viewpoint, one that extols the career merits of the Help Desk, claims that
"a job on an IT help desk can open doors to other IT career opportunities. Help desk technicians, these proponents say, gain valuable experience working with end users throughout the enterprise and learning what makes the business tick."
Proponents of both viewpoints agree on one point, however. If you're the type of Help Desk pro who wants to keep your head down and just "fix PCs," you're not going to get anywhere.
I'd like to hear from some Help Desk pros out there. How long have you been in your positions? Do you prefer it that way? If you've gone on to other positions, what were they?
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.