41 Honest Help Desk Technician Salaries
If you work as a help desk technician, or you’re thinking about becoming one, you’re probably curious what a fair salary is. Before you head into job interviews or meetings about promotions, you’ll want to get a sense of what help desk technicians get paid.
To help answer that question, we gathered tons of data about what help desk technicians are getting paid. We also worked out what training and certifications can help move them to higher salaries. Read on to learn how to advance your career as a help desk technician.
What is a Help Desk Technician?
A help desk technician is the person doing the actual hands-on (or remote-enabled) technical support and troubleshooting services for end users. Help desk technicians diagnose and resolve hardware issues as well as software problems.
Generally speaking, a help desk technician is either on-site (“in-house”) or remote. On-site help desk technicians tend to provide support for employees of the same company — their responsibilities are usually to keep the network, hardware and software working optimally for their co-workers. Remote help desk technicians often provide troubleshooting and diagnostic support to clients and customers of their company.
A help desk technician is often — but isn’t necessarily — an entry-level position, and the salaries paid often reflect that. For many IT professionals, a position as a help desk technician is a career starting point, a stepping-off point to more advanced positions like network technician or systems administrator.
43 Real Salaries for Help Desk Technicians
To give you a sense of what a help desk technician gets paid, we gathered information from sources all over the internet and all over the country. We grabbed job postings and pulled data from existing job descriptions, we also pulled info from professional IT networking sites.
Once we had all that salary information, we broke it down in a few different ways. First, we got national averages. But we also split the salaries into a high range and a low range. That way, we could get a sense of the salaries more suitable for trained and experienced help desk technicians and separate them from the entry-level jobs.
The national average salary for a Help Desk Technician is $41,500.
The national average high for a Help Desk Technician is $43,500.
The national average low for a Help Desk Technician is $30,500.
Depending on where you work and what job markets are available to you, you might find a lot of variation in what salary you can look forward to. Take a look at our chart of 43 salaries for help desk technicians by state:
Almost all the best salaries for help desk technicians are in large — often coastal — cities. Four of the top five cities for high-paid help desk technicians are on the coasts. Of the 10 cities that pay an experienced help desk technician a salary of $50,000 or more, almost all are in cities the size of San Francisco, Chicago, and Fort Myers. This suggests that more experienced help desk technicians should look to metropolitan areas to find the best-paying jobs.
The average salary for entry-level help desk technicians is pretty stable. At first, it might seem like our chart of salaries suggests that an entry-level help desk technician can expect a range from $20,000 to $42,000. But remove the top 5 and bottom 5 cities: that range comes out closer to $27,000-$35,000. This suggests that the job market for entry-level help desk technicians is pretty stable. That’s not a very competitive salary, but it does mean that the job itself is well-defined and well-understood by the IT community.
In many places, the difference between low salaries and high is as high as $20,000. Some job markets, like those in Waco, TX and Jackson, MS have a salary difference of $22,000/year between the low-paying jobs and the high-paying ones. This suggests that being selective with your location as well as what company you work for can affect your salary prospects in pretty pronounced ways. Being aware of different opportunities and staying active in your job market could mean a big difference in how much you get paid.
Depending on where you work, the average salary for a help desk technician varies by 40%. The overall average salary for all help desk technicians in a job market can vary by 40% from the high in San Francisco and the low in Puerto Rico. This should signal to help desk techs who can afford to shop around before taking work that looking in cities and states other than the one you live in could affect your salary a lot. For a job that’s often done remotely, that should be promising.
4 Salary Considerations for Help Desk Technicians
At this point, you should have a sense of what a help desk technician does, but more importantly, you have a strong idea of what one gets paid. If our chart of 43 help desk technician salaries teaches us anything, it’s that while entry-level technicians probably shouldn’t expect much more than $35,000, with the right experience, you can move your salary up above $45,000.
But what makes that possible? What can a help desk technician who recently took their first job do to improve their salary prospects? It seems that there are four variables that affect the salary a help desk technician can expect: broad experience, specific knowledge of tools and technology, certifications, and what industry you work in. Let’s explore each of those four salary considerations.
Experience Requirements for Help Desk Technicians
The good news is that help desk positions are often entry-level jobs that don’t come with many prerequisites for experience or education. If you’re coming into the job for the very first time without any training, experience or education, you should be able to land a help desk technician position if you can demonstrate competence with basic PC troubleshooting and maintenance skills.
But even though it’s an entry-level position, if you don’t have any experience with diagnosing computer errors or providing technical support, it’ll be hard to land your first help desk technician job. Similarly, there tend to be no education requirements for filling a help desk technician job, but you should be familiar with different hardwares, softwares and vendors. You should know your way around different operating systems and how to navigate different sorts of desktop computers.
If you’re already working as a help desk technician, the experience you should be focusing on earning is breadth first, then depth. In other words, try not to limit what sorts of devices, what sorts of hardware and what software you’re familiar with. A help desk technician should know a little bit about a lot. And once you’re well-grounded in a wide assortment of technologies and systems, try to gain experience with one or two of them specifically, and get really good at a few.
Specializing in this way will do more than make you a more valuable help desk technician, it can also show you what parts of IT you enjoy. Network technicians and systems administrators often get their start in help desk, and their salaries are quite a bit more attractive than a help desk technician’s, so it’s worth preparing for a move in those directions.
4 Help Desk/Customer Support Tools You'll Need to Know
Throughout your time as a help desk technician, you’ll use many tools for providing support. It wouldn’t be worthwhile to list specific tools you should learn, since different employers use completely different tools. But we will list the types of customer support tools you’ll want to know to improve your salary prospects. As you understand more about each category of tool, you become more valuable to your employer and more attractive to potential employers.
Help Desk Ticketing Systems
Arguably one of the most important tools a help desk team uses is its ticket management software. A “ticket” is, essentially, the digital paperwork of a problem. A ticket is generated when a malfunction occurs or a complaint is registered and it contains information about the problem. As technicians work on the problem, they add to the ticket with notes and observations. A help desk technician has to know not only how to navigate and use the software for managing help desk tickets, but they have to be excellent at writing detailed, understandable tickets that help everyone solve problems faster.
Salary impact of help desk ticketing systems: huge. There are hundreds of different help desk ticketing systems — many companies even use proprietary systems that were coded in-house. So it’s not realistic for a help desk technician to train on individual systems. Instead, you can improve your salary prospects by researching various ticketing systems and learning what makes them different. Then, consider why those differences would or wouldn’t profit your own system. Plus, you can set yourself apart from your peers by constantly seeking feedback on your tickets and improving how you write them accordingly.
Remote Monitoring and Management Tools
Remote monitoring and management tools are how many IT support teams do their work. There are certainly still some help desk technicians who physically walk to each device in order to do their jobs and troubleshoot errors. But teams and technicians who can work from a distance can save themselves time and energy and their employer money. Remote monitoring and management tools are a huge force multiplier for companies, and help desk technicians should master whichever ones they have access to as quickly as possible.
Salary impact of remote monitoring and management tools: huge. The RMM that you and your company rely on will be one of the most important diagnostic and management tools in your collective toolbelt. Getting into the weeds and fine details of its operation and configuration can help set you apart as a help desk technician. Again, there are too many RMMS for any one person to learn them all, but knowing their differences and similarities makes you a better employee and can help improve your odds of a great salary.
Computer Diagnostic Tools
It’s hard to say which diagnostics tools a help desk technician should learn, because it matters a lot which operating system you’re running, on what hardware and with what software, on what sort of network. Nevertheless, a help desk technician who masters tools like the Windows Performance Monitor, Open Hardware Monitor or Speccy can look forward to be qualified for promotions and jobs with higher salaries.
Salary impact of computer diagnostic tools: huge. A help desk technician who can’t navigate diagnostic tools is like a chef who’s unfamiliar with pots and pans. If you plan to earn your salary as a help desk technician, learn how to use diagnostic tools — and not just the ones that everyone in your shop uses. Expand your familiarity with what information different tools provide and the lenses they present the information through — you’ll be a smarter and more capable technician.
Asset Management Platforms
An asset management platform is a suite of programs that teams use to track important information about devices, data and network resources throughout their network. A help desk technician needs to be able to read and understand what an asset management software is saying about the health of resources and nodes. Technicians who can demonstrate a great understanding of assets’ health have a better chance at justifying the best salaries.
Salary impact of knowing asset management platforms: significant. When we say “asset management platform”, we’re not excluding digital asset management software. But DAMs don’t always relate to a help desk technician’s job as much as hardware and network asset management platforms do. But no matter what, the ability to read and understand asset health metrics is a key differentiator between amateur technicians and experienced ones.
The 6 Best Certifications for a Help Desk Technician
Certifications are one of the best ways to set yourself apart as a help desk technician and justify raises to competitive salaries. A certification is awarded by companies and organizations as a way of standardizing the career field. Before earning a certification, you’ll have to pass an exam — which is usually quite hard.
Not every certification is created equal, though. Many are expensive, many are very difficult, and not all are completely reputable. CompTIA, Cisco, and Microsoft are some of the most-respected issuers of certifications for help desk technicians.
CompTIA is a professional organization of IT professionals. They publish certifications in a wide range of topics, each meant to define everything that career is capable of. Their emphasis is on vendor-agnostic certifications and testing, which means their exams are focused on the skills of the trade, not specific configurations for individual pieces of hardware or software.
Probably the single best certification a help desk technician could earn is CompTIA’s A+. Meant as an entry-level industry standard for beginning a career in IT, it covers all the bases a help desk technician would need to know. It’s not an easy test to pass, so you’ll want to get training in configuring OSs, troubleshooting core services, and supporting networks. Two other certifications from CompTIA to consider are the Network+ and Security+. They’re both more focused on skills related specifically to those fields (networking and cybersecurity), but if your job has responsibilities in those, they’re excellent certifications to have.
Salary impact of earning CompTIA certs: huge. Many surveys of IT professionals show that the CompTIA A+ certification is where their career began. The A+ is sort of a gateway: once you pass through it, you’re eligible for better jobs, better salaries and new opportunities. The Network+ and Security+ are both excellent for long-term career prospects too, but the A+ should always come first.
Cisco is a manufacturer of network hardware, and if your company uses Cisco devices for its networks, you should seriously consider earning a Cisco certification. You’ll feel much more confident after being validated by the manufacturer that you know the right way to troubleshoot and configure their hardware, but you’ll also demonstrate your knowledge and ability to your employer. And that’s the road to better salaries.
For help desk technicians with a good technical foundation and confidence in their knowledge, the CCNA is a very broad certification for associate-level technicians in an IT company. It’s challenging, but very worthwhile. For those who are completely brand new to networking, the CCT is an entry-level certification that won’t improve your salary prospects as much, but will likely make you feel much more confident in your position.
Salary impact of Cisco certifications: significant. If your company relies on Cisco technologies, the CCNA is a great choice for help desk technicians. The CCNA covers all the major aspects of administering Cisco network devices. Obviously, if you don’t have to configure network and IP access, network security or work with Cisco networks, it’s not worth your while. Otherwise, the CCNA is very often a great justification for a better salary.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
Microsoft has been issuing certifications for decades as a way of assuring companies that technicians will never be lost within their ecosystem of software and cloud services. The Azure Administrator Associate is an entry-level certificate that tells your employer you can manage and administer the parts of Microsoft Azure that are necessary for keeping users online and productive.
Salary impact of the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate cert: significant. The Azure Administrator Associate certificate is ideal for entry-level help desk technicians whose job will rely more on servicing cloud-based users. If your company doesn’t use Microsoft or Azure, there are better certs to start with.
What Type of Companies Need Help Desk Technicians?
There’s one last thing a help desk technician should consider before entering the job market: which industry they work for. Obviously a help desk technician is an IT position, but that doesn’t mean only IT companies need them. There are many other types of companies that need tech support on a regular basis, and it’s important to think about what industry they’re in and what sort of long-term career it would support.
Medical Service Providers
The medical industry isn’t just hospitals and clinics, it also extends to hospital networks, insurance providers and medical information service providers. The upside to working for these companies is that their networks and systems are always increasing in complexity and size — there’s always a need for competent help desk technicians. The downside is that sometimes their IT footprint is limited. It’s important to be aware of what sort of upward opportunities exist — whether you’d be able to advance into network or hardware administration or be limited to a help desk.
Career impact of working in software development: significant. Medical service networks are vast and in constant need of support. A well-trained help desk technician can earn competitive salaries by finding the right gig with a statewide hospital network, and as an industry it’s quite stable.
Technical Support Solutions Providers
One of the most reliable consumers of help desk technicians is companies who provide tech support to other companies. These are often remote-based jobs that depend on you being able to switch between different clients and operating systems quickly, following scripts and fielding questions. Since they’re often remote, a help desk technician who wants to advance their career has to be proactive for themselves. This can be difficult for entry-level technicians who run the risk of feeling burnt out.
Career impact of working in hardware manufacturing: significant. A tech support provider can be a great place for help desk technicians to start their career because of how much experience you can get on different systems and networks solving unique problems. Providers of a certain size can be a bit factory-like, so promotions to better salaries might be difficult without jumping through hoops, but it can lead to opportunities in better jobs at different companies.
Public Education Institutions
Public education institutions include colleges, universities, community colleges, libraries and K-12 schools. Depending on the institution and its networks, there’s the potential for them to have extremely complex data requirements and network needs. Many have teams of help desk technicians to provide support to users and internal network support.
Career impact of working for enterprise service providers: significant. A potential downside to working for a public education institution is that they may not have a strong sense of what a career looks like for a help desk technician. It’s possible that you could move through advancement and training inside the organization to positions of responsibility with networks and devices, but it’s also possible you could end up without anyone showing you the next steps for your career.
How to Increase Your Salary as a Help Desk Technician
A well-paid help desk technician gets a salary of roughly $44,000/year. Usually making it to that point takes extensive experience in the job. Being intentional with your training can lead to earning certifications that qualify you for promotions or better pay, as can staying up-to-date with changes in technology.
If you’re starting out as a help desk technician, your salary will probably be a bit lower than $44,000/year — probably closer to $31,000/year. If you take your time to improve your abilities and stay mindful of your career prospects, you can quickly advance to much better salaries.
Hopefully the technology problems never get so bad that your end users are running through an office lobby and into an elevator screaming, “Tech support!” But get experience doing the job, get training and certifications, and it can be you showing up when things go off the rails.