Helpdesk professionals offer fist line support to clients who are having problems with their IT hardware and software. They work with the client to identify the fault and offer solutions to rectify the problem. In some cases, there will be a second tier of support to which clients can be referred if initial problems cannot be resolved. Support can be given over the phone, by email or increasingly, via web-based helpdesk software the client logs in to.
Helpdesk professionals may work for the supplier of software or equipment as part of their after-sales service, for instance a home PC manufacturer; or they may work for an organisation specialising in providing IT maintenance and support to commercial clients, for example, supporting a retail chain's computerised till network. In a large institution, such as a university, they may be part of an in-house support team.
Helpdesk professionals work on a computer, using specific helpdesk software, which allows them to communicate with clients directly (and vice versa), log calls/contacts made, run reports on common trends and track work in progress. Helpdesk professionals also update knowledge databases, which clients can access remotely to try and resolve issues without the need for further support.
If a particular problem cannot be rectified by first or second line staff, arrangements can be made to call out a field engineer or to send the faulty equipment/software for repair.
Helpdesk professionals work 37 to 40 hours a week, but the pattern of work varies between employers and can often involve shifts that include evenings and weekends.
The work is office-based on a PC. Some travel may be involved if working for a company with users on different sites.
As a helpdesk professional, you should:
With experience and training, helpdesk professionals can progress to more senior positions within their organisation, such as team leader, section leader or departmental manager. They may also use the work as a stepping stone towards other work in IT such as programming or systems administration. There are also opportunities for working in IT training.
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