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41 Honest Help Desk Analyst Salaries
Landing a job as a help desk analyst tends to be the first step — not the last — in someone’s career path. Many IT professionals who started out as help desk analysts have since moved on to earning great salaries. That’s not to say a help desk analyst’s salary is bad, but depending on where you live and work, it might feel lacking. But the job can often lead to much bigger and better salaries in more complex and challenging careers.
So for those who are starting out as help desk analysts, the question becomes what your job should pay you. The first lesson is location: fair salaries for help desk analysts change a lot based on where you work. Experience and training also matter a lot. Most help desk analyst positions are bare-bones entry-level. But with training and certifications, you can prove yourself more valuable and earn better salaries.
As a service to IT professionals who are looking for jobs, we’ve collected salary information for help desk analysts all over the country. It can also benefit help desk analysts already working who want to make sure they’re getting paid the right amount. Read on and learn not just what the picture of salaries looks like nationwide and on a state-by-state basis, but what you can do to improve your outlook
What is a Help Desk Analyst?
A help desk analyst is often the first line of defense for a customer service/customer support team. Broadly speaking, help desk analysts are often the people who receive the initial inquiry from a customer and decide whether it’s a routine issue that they can fix or something that needs more advanced support.
Help desk analysts spend a lot of their time with clients and customers. Sometimes over the phone, sometimes via email or live chat. One of the most valuable things a help desk analyst can do for any company is filter. In the medical world, it’s known as triage. In the IT world, a help desk analyst recognizes the relatively simple hardware, software or network issues that they can fix quickly, then does so. But they also recognize the more complex issues and send those to the right people.
Help desk analysts tend to be paid entry-level salaries. That’s because their responsibilities often don’t include dealing with complex issues. But as a help desk analyst learns more about hardware, software and network troubleshooting, management and configuration, they can look forward to an increased salary and job prospects.
41 Real Salaries for Help Desk Analysts
Now that you have a sense of what a help desk analyst does, let’s inspect salaries. We wanted to get snapshots that explain salaries for help desk analysts around the country. As you’ll see, the national average and state-by-state averages look pretty different. But even inside the same states, different cities have very different salary averages.
To gather all this salary information for help desk analysts, we extracted information from job sites, we found job descriptions of existing positions and job postings for openings. We compiled all the information and sorted it by city and state.
Then, as we looked at the national average, we saw the numbers splitting into three different ranges: a high-end average, low-end average and an overall average. So we split the salary information into those three ranges to give you a sense of all the possibilities. Low-end averages tend to be entry-level positions, while high-end averages represent jobs with greater responsibilities and experience expectations.
- The national average salary for a Help Desk Analyst is $40,000.
- The average high for a Help Desk Analyst is $45,000.
- The average low for a Help Desk Analyst is $29,500.
Those are the national numbers. But look at this chart of 41 help desk analyst salaries. You’ll see that some cities differ from the national averages quite a bit.
The best average salaries for help desk analysts are in big, coastal cities. Looking at the overall average help desk analyst salary for an entire city, big, coastal cities like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, San Diego, Sacramento, Seattle and Los Angeles are all in the top ten. The national average salary for a help desk analyst is $45,000, but in each of those cities it’s north of $46,000.
This suggests that location matters. Help desk analysts who want to secure good salaries need to keep in mind that cost of living apparently has a big effect. Smaller cities in the same regions, like Salem, OR, Newport News, VA, Rochester, NY all have significantly lower average salaries.
High-end salaries for help desk analysts can be found in unexpected places. In some places, the high-end average is surprisingly high compared to the overall average. In Midland, TX, for instance: $57,000 per year at the high end, but the overall average and low-end are comparable to national averages. Reno, NV, Fort Collins, CO, Worcester, MA all have uncommonly high-paying jobs in the high-end market, but average or below-average low-paying jobs.
This suggests that experience matters for a lot. When salaries have that much volatility, help desk analysts should see it as an encouragement to set themselves apart from their peers. In many job markets, certain help desk analysts are being paid quite a lot more than their colleagues, and the difference is probably training, certification and experience.
Where average salaries for a help desk analyst are highest, it’s because the low-end is higher, not the high-end. When looking at salary comparisons, it’s pretty typical for the highest-paid people to skew an average upward. But it seems like that’s not the case for help desk analysts. In places like D.C., New York, San Diego, Seattle and Sacramento, where the overall average salary is highest, the low-end average is also near the top, while the high-end average is only middling.
This suggests that in many job markets, help desk analyst is an entry-level position that people might get promoted out of more quickly than they get raises. The range of salaries from lowest-paid to highest across the country averages at about $15,000. That probably means that while certifications, training and experience can lead to better pay, more often than not they lead to better jobs.
4 Salary Considerations for Help Desk Analyst
If you’re looking for work as a help desk analyst, make sure you do everything you can to improve your odds of getting a good salary. As the above chart shows, where you work can affect your salary. But there are other factors that affect the outcome much more: experience, training, certification, and what industry you work in.
Experience Requirements for Help Desk Analyst
The experience necessary to become a help desk analyst is often quite low. Many job postings for a help desk analyst don’t require a bachelor’s degree, or any more experience than a year in a computer-related position. That can make a help desk analyst position appealing to someone looking to start their career in IT.
On the other hand, that means advancement, promotion and a better salary is entirely up to you. The upside to entry-level positions is that you can get in without much experience, the downside is that it’s on you to get a lot of experience on the job.
Because help desk analysts spend at least as much time dealing with clients and customers as they do fixing technology, most companies expect demonstrated written and oral communication skills. You’ll also want to have a sense of how to diagnose a problem quickly and make good notes about the problem.
4 Customer Support Tools You'll Need to Know
It’s hard to say exactly which tools a help desk analyst will need to know. That’s because different companies can use different tools to accomplish the same thing. And exactly what your responsibilities will be can change as well. So rather than name the exact tools you should learn, we’ve instead identified the categories of tools that will help you. A help desk analyst on the hunt for a good salary should at least recognize many of the tools that accomplish the tasks of their new job.
Hardware and Network Performance Monitoring Tools
A lot of the work that a help desk analyst performs is automatic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. For example, it’s not a help desk analyst’s job to visit a user’s computer and manually diagnose errors. There are computer programs that analyze the performance of a target machine. But once those programs have an output, an analyst’s job is to make sense of the results.
Salary impact of hardware and network performance monitoring tools: Huge. A help desk analyst can’t do anything if they don’t accurately understand the problem. That doesn’t mean you have to fix everything that comes your way. But when you use the tools that monitor hardware performance and network traffic and give a snapshot of what’s happening, you do need to understand what that snapshot means.
Remote Monitoring and Management Tools
Identifying the piece of hardware that’s malfunctioning or the setting that’s misconfigured is the first step. For simple issues, help desk analysts are responsible for doing something about it. If it’s a relatively minor fix, a network monitoring and management tool lets you get remote access to a client or customer’s PC so you can perform the necessary fix or update on your own. Many companies have proprietary RMMs that you couldn’t learn ahead of time. But you should still learn about different RMMs and have a sense of what they’re capable of.
Salary impact of remote monitoring and management tools: Significant. The ability to remote into a computer and fix simple issues is a pillar of a Help Desk Analyst’s job. There are too many different remote monitoring and management tools to ever learn. But it looks great to a potential employer if you can at least talk about them.
Ticketing Systems and Tools
The success or failure of any tech support team is often its ticketing system. A really well-written ticket that captures all the relevant information and diagnoses underlying problems can help make sure nothing gets overlooked, work doesn’t get done twice, and no customers fall through the cracks. But the skill of writing good tickets that go to the right people is rare — even among help desk analysts.
Salary impact of knowing ticketing systems and tools: Significant. For new help desk analysts, learning ticketing probably sounds like the least sexy job possible. But actually, a ton of the work you’ll end up doing in your job will come down to writing tickets. Like a lot of the tools on this list, many ticketing systems are proprietary and so it’s hard to learn in advance. But if you know what they are and what makes different ticketing systems different, you stand a good chance of making a great impression.
Port Scanning Tools
Port scanning is a diagnostic approach that’s usually taken by network administrators. But help desk analysts should be ready to use them for outlier cases. Running a port scan can reveal if a problem is simple enough to handle at a low level, or if it needs to be moved up, what seems to be causing the problem.
Salary impact of knowing port scanning tools: Considerable. Knowing how to use port scanning tools will make you a more versatile analyst. A help desk analyst doesn’t just give jobs to other people to fix, they’re also responsible for fixing simple problems and getting information about particularly challenging issues.
4 Best Certifications for a Help Desk Analyst
In case you’ve never heard of them, earning certifications is one of the best possible ways to demonstrate excellence in your job and earn promotions to much better salaries. Help desk analysts are very often at the start of their career and might never have heard of certifications, or not know the good ones from the okay.
Certifications are often given out by groups of experts in a certain field after someone takes a test. CompTIA is an organization of IT professionals and they issue some of the most widely recognized, best-respected certifications in the IT community. On the other hand, sometimes manufacturers of hardware or developers of software will issue certifications as well. Who else could say with more confidence that the person who holds the cert understands how the technology works? Cisco and Microsoft have some great certifications too.
CompTIA is one of the IT world’s most respected professional organizations. They offer certifications that are vendor-agnostic. That means that they don’t relate specifically to using one piece of hardware or one developer’s software. As an organization, CompTIA is more interested in certifying entire categories of work, regardless of what technology makes it possible. The A+ is their entry-level service desk/help desk/tech support certification.
Salary impact of earning the CompTIA A+: Huge. The A+ has been the first certification earned by IT professionals for years. People who hold an A+ are certified to work with mobile devices, networking tech, hardware, virtualization, cloud computing and network troubleshooting. For a help desk analyst, it might cover more than you’ll deal with, but it’s a great way to earn a better salary and eventually a better job.
The Network+ is CompTIA’s certification for entry-level networking professionals. The content of the Network+ is both more focused on network administration and more advanced than most help desk analysts will need for their first job. But earning it shows commitment to the job and can expose the possibilities that networking can hold in case your company has promotions to a network team out of the help desk.
Salary impact of getting the CompTIA Network+: Considerable. If you’re a new help desk analyst and you want to improve your salary with a certification, the A+ is your best bet. But if you already have the A+ and you want to become even more capable while also exploring a possible new career, the Network+ would be a great second choice.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
Cisco manufacturers networking hardware and the software that runs it. If the company you work for doesn’t use Cisco for their network, earning a Cisco certification might not be the best use of your time. But if you deal with many network issues for your help desk analyst position and your company relies on Cisco tech, earning the CCNA is a huge step toward demonstrating mastery of your tools.
Salary impact of earning the CCNA: Significant. The CCNA is a career objective for many IT professionals. For a help desk analyst, one of the best reasons for pursuing a CCNA is that it can help offset a lack of a bachelor’s degree — if you came into the career without one. A CCNA isn’t the same as a degree, but earning one can make not having a degree less of a big deal when trying for better salaries.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
Microsoft certifies IT professionals who’ll be working on their technologies for a company. If your company uses Azure technologies, the Azure Administrator Associate is a great entry-level cert that proves you’re comfortable working as a help desk analyst on Microsoft networks. Like the CCNA, if your company doesn’t use Azure or Microsoft products, a Microsoft certification probably shouldn’t be your first choice for a certification.
Salary impact of the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate: Considerable. The Azure Administrator Associate is a good second or third certification to earn after one that’s more focused on entry-level administration. For help desk analysts with some experience already under their belt who want to advance to a higher salary, the Azure Administrator Associate certificate covers Active Directory, storage accounts, Azure virtualization, and more.
What Type of Companies Need Help Desk Analysts?
At this point, you have a sense of what competitive salaries look like for help desk analysts. You know what some of the tools and certifications are that can help advance your career. The last piece of the puzzle is what sort of company you work for. Help desk analysts are defined by being the first part of a chain of tech support.
That means that small and medium companies might not be able to support a large infrastructure. But large corporations with big networks probably can. A part of landing a help desk analyst job with a good salary is knowing what sort of industry the company works in, and what the long-term prospects are for your career.
Help Desk Service Providers
Since many companies can’t afford to have a team of tech support technicians waiting for something to go wrong, many companies farm out their tech support to companies who do only that. A help desk analyst is the essential building block for companies who provide that service. They’re the men and women who field the first phone call from a customer whose machine is malfunctioning and decide whether it has to be escalated.
Career impact of help desk service providers: Significant. Someone looking to start a career as a help desk analyst would probably find plenty of opportunity at a help desk service provider. If you land a job like that, be sure to pay attention to what promotion opportunities exist and how people take advantage of them. Overall, it could be a competitive environment without room for improving your salary, so you’ll need to take responsibility for that yourself.
Companies like Netflix, Comcast, T-Mobile, even electric and water companies are service providers whose equipment can malfunction. Companies like that can’t survive without a team of people fielding the phone calls and emails from customers who are looking for solutions.
Career impact of working for a service provider: Significant. The upside to working as a help desk analyst for a service provider is that the very nature of their business model means they always need someone answering phone calls and identifying problems. If you can find work with a high-technology service provider, there’s also a good chance that your career could include more advanced IT jobs like network administrator or systems analyst at the same employer. Your salary might start low at a service provider because of the high competition, but there should be room for improvement.
Military and Government
Not just the federal government, but state and local governments employ huge portions of the workforce. That’s particularly true in IT, and it’s a rare, very rare, government network that doesn’t need a lot of tech support. Not only that, you don’t even have to be in the military to support some military networks.
Career impact for help desk analysts of military and government: Vonsiderable. Although many military organizations and governments hire out help desk support to contractors, there are still opportunities to start your career as a help desk analyst with them.
How to Increase Your Salary as a Help Desk Analyst
Help desk analyst is about as entry-level as entry-level positions get — and that means it can be a great opportunity. Many job postings for help desk analysts don’t require any prior work experience and don’t ask for a college degree. Not many people without a college degree can find a stable job with a decent salary and room for growth — a help desk analyst position is often exactly that.
But just like any entry-level position, the salary for a help desk analyst usually isn’t mind-blowing. To earn the best salaries as a help desk analyst, you’ll need to acquire as much diverse experience as you can, learn the tools of the trade, and earn industry certifications.
We hope our chart of 41 salaries for help desk analysts gave you a sense of what you should be asking for, and that our list of certifications, tools and industries has given you insight to what you can do to improve your salary.