Computer Systems Support Person Careers

How to become a Computer Systems Support Person

What does a Computer Systems Support Person do?

Computer systems support persons, also known as systems support analyst programmers, are responsible for maintaining, updating and modifying the software used by their employing organisation or its clients.

They deal with problems users have with application software. This may involve amending some of the software code, or retrieving files and data that have been lost when a system crashes or an inexperienced user makes a mistake.

Problem solving could also include devising modifications that tailor the software to the company.

They may specialise in a specific area of the work such as the basic operation software (working with codes and low-level computer language, feeding in the amendments, add-ons and corrections to the program that the software supplier regularly sends out to users).

This is a fast-moving area where practices change frequently, so they could be involved in designing more significant modifications or add-ons. They discuss the user’s needs with them, then write a specification, create a design to match it and program the code using an applications language. They then test the program to make sure that it functions effectively before downloading it onto the system for it to go ‘live’.

What's the working environment like working as a Computer Systems Support Person?

Computer systems support people usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, although they may be called on to work overtime or need to be on call for emergencies.

They usually work in an office with an IT support team. They either solve problems remotely at their own workstation or visit users at theirs. If working for a software company providing support to outside customers, some travel will be involved visiting clients.

What does it take to become a Computer Systems Support Person?

To be a computer systems support person you need:

  • effective communication and listening skills
  • to be able to explain complex information to non-technical staff
  • patience and perseverance and to be able to concentrate for long periods on a particular problem
  • an analytical and logical mind
  • mathematical ability
  • motivation and a responsible attitude
  • some business-related experience.

Computer Systems Support Person Career Opportunities

Since existing software constantly needs updating and maintaining, the number of analyst programmers working in systems support is steadily increasing.

Most companies and organisations in the UK have systems support staff - or have a regular agreement with a software/systems house or small support company.

Promotion is to senior support person and team leader - or to a section or department manager role.

There may be the possibility of work abroad.

Some systems support people work freelance, either under contract to clients or through an agency. With experience, some set up their own company, offering systems maintenance and support to a range of clients.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Computer Systems Support Person that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Computer Society,
1 Sanford Street,
Swindon SN1 1HJ.

Tel: 01793 417 417.

Computing Careers Yearbook, 1999
(London, VNU Business Publications, 1999).
Available free from careers services.
Institution of Analysts and Programmers,
Charles House,
36 Culmington Road,
London W13 9NH.

Tel: 020 8567 2118.

Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS),
5 Kingfisher House,
New Mill Road,
Kent BR5 3QG.

Tel: 020 8308 0747.

The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators
Blackhorse Road,
Hertfordshire SG6 1YY.

Tel: 01462 486 825.

National Training Organisation for Information Technology (IT NTO),
16-18 Berners Street,
London W1P 3DD.

Tel: 020 7580 6677.

Facts and Stats:

  • There are 76.5m Internet users in the USA.
  • The Apple iMac holds the record for the shortest instruction manual, which amounts to only 36 words and 6 pictures.
  • Computer software and hardware are the items bought most often over the Internet, followed by books and CDs.

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