33 Honest Desktop Support Technician Salaries
Despite what your aunts, uncles, and grandparents might think, not every person younger than 30 is able to fix any technological problem. Sure, there’s some familiarity and comfort that comes from growing up around technologies like mobile phones, tablets, laptops, WiFi and cloud computing, but debugging, diagnosing and resolving IT issues can be hard. All this is what desktop support technicians do every day while getting a decent salary for it too.
For people who land a desktop support technician job, it can be hard to know what your salary should be. But if you’re the one who keeps the computers and devices of your company working, you should do everything you can to make sure you’re being paid fairly. It’s true for any industry, but it’s especially true for desktop support technicians, where a highly trained support rep’s salary can be double that of their less-trained counterparts.
With the right knowledge and preparation, you can set yourself up for high salaries as a desktop support technician. So read on and learn what you’re worth and how to earn the most in that role.
What is a Desktop Support Technician?
At first, a desktop support technician’s job is obvious and easy to define: they fix technology problems. But as you try to explain what, exactly, that means, the job gets a lot harder to define.
That’s because a desktop support technician is the IT equivalent of “jack of all trades and master of none”. They might be called on to fix issues with a company’s servers, security, networks, software, or hardware — and they might do that in-person or remotely. They respond to client support requests, work with peripherals and desktop hardware, maintain inventories and more. The position of desktop support technician requires considerable knowledge and training and many job postings call for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Information Technology.
The position of a desktop support technician is usually called different things at different companies. Sometimes they’re IT Help Desk, sometimes support specialists. It’s often an entry-level position, but the starting salary can be increased quite a lot through promotion and advancement.
33 Real Salaries for Desktop Support Technician
If you’re interested in starting a career as a desktop support technician, or you’re already working as one, you should make sure you know what the going salary is. Desktop support technician tends to be an entry-level position, and that can set salary expectations low. But there’s a lot you can do to become extremely well-qualified and well-trained, and with more certifications and knowledge comes significantly higher pay.
To come up with the range of salaries a desktop support technician can expect, we scoured the internet for existing jobs and new job postings and the salaries they’re offering. We used professional job listing sites and networking sites to assemble not only a national snapshot, but also state-by-state comparisons. And then, rather than just give you one straight average, we split the numbers up into a high, middle and low range of averages nationally and in specific cities.
The national average salary for a Desktop Support Technician is $47,000.
The average high salary for a Desktop Support Technician is $44,600.
The average low salary for a Desktop Support Technician is $32,000.
The numbers look substantially different when you get closer to the cities and states where different desktop support technicians live and work. This chart of 33 salaries shows that there are places where low-paid desktop support technicians are making less than $30,000 and plenty of places where their high-paid counterparts are making quite a lot more.
On average, the best jobs markets for desktop support technicians are in coastal cities. Out of the top 10 cities with the highest average salaries, seven are coastal (three of those are in California). Cost-of-living is usually substantially more expensive in those cities as well. Our data suggests that the salaries being paid to desktop support technicians in expensive cities could artificially inflate the national average.
The difference between low-paid desktop support technicians is less than the difference for high-paid. In the cities we sampled, only about $14,000 separated all the desktop support technicians on the low end of the salary spectrum. Meanwhile, depending on where they’re working, the best-paid desktop support technicians are still making $31,000 more than their fellow high-salary counterparts. This suggests that once you get yourself qualified, certified and trained, you become increasingly more valuable to teams and companies.
The biggest differences in pay are where high-paid desktop support technicians are paid the most. In our survey of desktop support technician salaries, Midland, Texas is where the upper range of salaries has the highest average at $64,000. The difference between that upper range and the low end in the same city is $30,000. Meanwhile, in Knoxville, Tennessee, the difference between the averages for high-paid and low-paid desktop support technicians is only $10,000. This suggests that there’s the best chance for earning the most where competition is fiercest.
Desktop support technician tends to be an entry-level position, and the salary ranges reflect that. Most desktop support technicians who want to earn substantially more have to change jobs or get trained and promoted into more specialized work. But what our data suggests is that there’s substantial room for advancement and pay raises in competitive markets for the desktop support technicians who become the most valuable to their companies through certifications and training.
4 Salary Considerations for Desktop Support Technicians
There’s a significant difference between low-paid Desktop Support Technicians and high-paid ones. Some of the best-paid IT support specialists can expect a salary that’s two times higher than some of their low-paid counterparts. The reason for this difference is the range of responsibilities and expectations that come along with the job.
Entry-level desktop support technicians tend to be tasked with routine jobs like basic troubleshooting and software upgrades. But with more training and experience, desktop support technicians can take on more complex responsibilities, and that comes with more pay. Knowing how to use remote-access technology, how different operating systems behave, how to navigate network connectivity issues, and more can all contribute to a substantially higher salary.
Next, we’ll take a look at the four things a desktop support technician can do to increase their salary: get training, learn IT tools, earn certifications, and choose the right industry.
Experience Requirements for a Desktop Support Technician
Describing everything a desktop support technician has to know is particularly difficult because different companies need much different support and there are so many technologies any given support team could keep running. Most jobs for a desktop support technician don’t need someone who knows about one, specific piece of tech: they need someone who knows a little bit about a ton of different technologies.
The challenge for new, aspiring and existing desktop support technicians is learning as much as you can about as many different softwares, hardwares and IT support tools. You don’t have to be a master of any one of them, but you should have a strong understanding of the concepts and be able to think on your feet in the future.
4 Tech Support Skills You’ve Got To Have
For support techs who want to improve their salary, one of the keys is having demonstrable skills. A support technician’s job description can be very different from one company to the next, but when you compare many of them, certain similarities shine through. By picking up as many of the following four skills as you can, you increase your chance of landing a desktop support technician job with a good-paying salary, or getting a raise in the job you already hold.
Configuring Operating Systems
Throughout your career as a desktop support technician, you’ll work with many different devices and usually many of them will have different operating systems. You should learn to manage as many of them as you can, but if nothing else, at least the big three: Windows, Mac and Linux. But don’t rule out Chrome OS, Android and iOS.
Career impact of knowing how to configure operating systems: Huge. The ability to maintain and configure the operating systems of a company’s devices is usually one of the pillars of a desktop support technician’s job. You may not see a huge pay bump for every OS you learn, but you won’t land the job in the first place if you don’t know them.
Managing IT Infrastructure and Networking
At especially large corporations, IT support teams might be broken down into what sort of technology they deal with, software, hardware, network but don’t think of that as the norm. A successful desktop support technician has to understand the core technologies of networking, including servers, routers and switches. You should also understand the basics of managing and troubleshooting network behavior.
Salary impact of managing IT infrastructure and networking: Considerable. Your career won’t be defined by managing network services unless you move into network administration. But the ability to troubleshoot and debug routine hardware outages on your network could put you one step ahead of the competition in your job interview.
Basic Data Backup and Recovery Methods
Companies have to trust their desktop support technicians with routine management that protects them against serious losses later on. Backup and recovery of essential data is one of the most important areas that companies need to know is handled competently. A desktop support technician who can’t manage backup or recovery procedures is likely to get passed over.
Career impact of data backup and recovery skills: Considerable. The ability to run routine scans, backups and recovery of data, databases and workloads is a fundamental skill for a support tech. Mastering the skill establishes you as a professional in your career field, which is key to getting promoted.
Active Directory is a directory service that administrators use to make sure that each user on a network is who they say they are and that they have access to the network resources they need. A desktop support technician will come into contact with Active Directory on a regular basis and need to understand its functionality as well as how to troubleshoot its operation.
Career impact of knowing Active Directory: Considerable. Active Directory knowledge is central to IT support. Many of the most common network issues stem from something going wrong with Active Directory. Mastering AD can lead to different careers and to greater responsibilities in your role.
3 Categories of Tech Support Tools You'll Need to Know
The technology that makes providing tech support possible change according to the type of networks, desktops and devices you work with. But generally speaking, by learning about the tools of a desktop support technician’s trade, you can become eligible for advancement to higher salaries. There are dozens of tools you might run into throughout a career, but here are the three categories of tech support tools you should know.
Project Management and Organization Tools
Even at very small companies, keeping track of all of the tech support work that needs to be done can be a logistical nightmare. A team can’t afford to have some people doing double-work on the same projects while other projects get overlooked entirely, but that’s exactly what can happen without project management and organizational tools like Jira, Asana or others. It’s not crucial to learn everything there is to know about all the tools that are out there, but you should be familiar with them and understand how and why they differ.
Career impact of knowing project management and organizational tools: Significant. A company is obviously going to train you on their organizational tools when you get hired. But that doesn’t mean a company wouldn’t prefer someone who’s already familiar with different management tools and will be able to manage their work from the first day. You can start at a higher salary if you show your familiarity with their organizational tools before you even start working.
Communication and Coordination Tools
It might seem strange to learn that knowing Trello or Slack could help you get a job, but for some companies, even small ones, the ability to navigate the communication and coordination tools makes the difference between a wasted day and a productive one. Much of the work a desktop support technician does will be remote, and being able to respond quickly and track changes easily will make you a more attractive candidate.
Salary impact of comfort with communication and coordination tools: modest. Like project management and organization tools, your company will train you in using their communication and coordination tools. But if you can say in an interview that you’re already familiar with similar technology, you can sound like a more competent, capable hire.
Administration or Ticket Management Tools
Different IT support shops run differently, and while it’s technically possible to have someone on staff whose only job is to run around like a chicken with its head cut off fixing problems, it’s not very efficient. Most companies rely heavily on their administration and ticket management tools to make sure that problems are being tracked properly and the most important issues are handled first. You don’t have to master Altera, Solarwinds or ManageEngine, but you have to understand how they function and how they differ.
Career impact of knowing administration or ticket management tools: modest. A huge part of the early on-the-job training every IT tech does is learning how the ticketing system works and how to leave detailed notes. You don’t have to go into the job interview knowing everything about their tool, but you should understand them. And knowing they’re hiring a support technician who already has a track record using an administration tool makes a company more comfortable offering you a higher salary.
3 Best Certifications for Desktop Support Technician
The IT industry has tons of certifications. By passing their difficult exams, an IT professional demonstrates that they have up-to-date expertise and knowledge on technologies that apply to their job. IT support has no shortage of certifications, but we’ve chosen the three certificationswe think are most valuable for desktop support technicians: the A+, Google’s IT Support Professional, and the ITF+.
The A+ certification from CompTIA is one of the industry’s most trusted best-regarded certifications for desktop support technicians. CompTIA’s many certificates depend on vendor-agnostic testing, which means the certification exam tests for broad, useful knowledge and not specific memorization. Whether it’s data management, cloud administration or security, the A+ covers all the many broad topics a help desk tech has to know.
Salary impact of A+: huge. The A+ is widely acknowledged as one of the best certifications to start most IT careers from. Network engineers and cloud architects just as much as desktop support technicians often start their careers with the A+. Having it tells companies that you’re dedicated to excellence and that you’re broadly familiar with all manner of critical IT support tasks.
Google IT Support Professional Certificate
Nearly 600,000 people have used the Google IT Support Professional Certificate to prepare for a career in IT support. Desktop support technicians with this certificate often come to it with no formal education or training. It’s a great certificate for learning to identify, debug and manage IT infrastructure.
Salary impact of Google IT Support Professional Certificate: huge. The biggest competition the Google IT Support Professional Certificate has in the IT world is the A+ and vice versa. Both are well-respected certificates that prove a support specialist’s expertise.
The ITF+ is sort of a strange certificate. It’s sort of the A+ to the A+ and is designed for people with very little previous training or experience in IT. It’s considered by CompTIA to be a pre-entry level certification that’s better for identifying the areas of IT you’re most proficient with before committing to one field. It’s not the most prestigious of certificates, but if you’re starting your career from scratch, it’s the best first step you could take.
Salary impact of ITF+: modest. The ITF+ is a small certification that doesn’t hold nearly as much clout as the A+. But earning it is a gesture of commitment, and it’s one more cert you can put on your resume. And sometimes it’s that small differentiator that makes the difference, plus trying to earn it can show you whether or not you’re cut out for IT support.
What Types of Companies Need Desktop Support Technicians?
Desktop support technicians are valued team members in companies of any size or industry. Some industries are more likely to have the cash and IT infrastructure to afford the salaries of a whole team of IT support. If you’re extremely comfortable with your skills, you could try to be the lone desktop support technician for a small-sized company, or you could join the team of a large corporation and follow orders for a while before moving up the ladder. Generally, the largest companies are the ones that will always provide a good home for help desks: finance and insurance companies, healthcare, and government.
Finance and Insurance Companies
Financial institutions like banks and investment firms and insurance companies often depend on huge networks supporting tons of different kinds of devices. Employing entire armies of desktop support technicians isn’t optional — it’s mandatory — for most companies whose networks stretch from coast to coast and who have users logging in at all hours of the day, every day.
Career impact of finance and insurance companies for Desktop Support Technicians: huge. The era of Big Data has arrived, and finance and insurance companies are completely dependent on their networks and devices. A desktop support technician who gets a job in the finance or insurance sector should feel confident expecting a higher salary than most, and you’ll probably find plenty of room for advancement into other fields of IT work as well.
Healthcare and Social Care Companies
The relationship between a healthcare provider and their network of devices should be obvious: patients, patient data and health outcomes depend on a stable, reliable network. A desktop support technician’s job in the healthcare industry often relies on managing data storage networks and providing fast, secure access to all that data to doctors, patients and partners.
Career impact of working in the healthcare industry for a Desktop Support Technician: huge. Even small doctor’s offices are so dependent on their devices and data networks that they’re willing to pay a full-time salary for a help desk tech who can troubleshoot those networks and keep them running.
Not only are government networks huge, and not only do they touch almost every aspect of everyday life, but also they’re often old and rely on out-dated technologies. The challenge and opportunity of working on government networks is becoming an expert in managing, debugging, administering and troubleshooting devices from different decades and networks that have to support an entire range of software versions. It can be frustrating, but it can also mean a very stable job keeping the government running.
Career impact for a Desktop Support Technician in working in government: significant. The need for IT professionals who can keep networks running or bring devices and networks up to speed on the latest technologies will only continue. The infrastructure of an IT network for a city government is just as important as a city’s roads, and desktop support technicians who work for governments can rely on a decent level of job stability and future prospects.
How to Increase Your Salary as a Desktop Support Technician
Maybe you’re a brand new desktop support technician, and you just landed your first job that’s paying you in the ballpark of $30,000 per year. Or maybe you’re applying for jobs and want that first job. If you’re trying to move your salary needle up to the $55,000 or $60,000 mark, you should have a sense of how to do that now.
The trick to increasing your salary as a desktop support technician is knowing what the averages in your immediate area are, then recognizing what training and certifications you need to thrive, and last, what industry you’re going to make your career in.