| it careers - David Zomaya
Life after L3: Career Progression after Level 3 Support
From a technical perspective, Level 3 support is the highest tier for most support teams. While you can certainly make a career out of Level 3 support, you may also want to change things up at some point. Level 3 support gives you plenty of domain knowledge in the technology and industry you've worked in. As a result, there are plenty of ways you can transfer those skills to a new role.
Here, we'll look at some logical next steps for your career after Level 3 support.
1. Technical Support Manager
If you've been doing Level 3 support for a while, a managerial role can be a great next step. If you enjoy leading a team and the business side of things, becoming a manager makes sense.
In a managerial role, you'll still be close to the technology you’re familiar with, but new problems to solve. As a manager, you'll be able to influence business processes and improve things systemically.
Consider a technical support manager role if: You enjoy the business side of things and team building.
Technical support manager salary: $119,994 a year average salary (Source: Salary.com)
2. Field Service Engineer
If your Level 3 support experience involves hardware, field service could be a great way to try something new that is still in your wheelhouse. Of course, if your expertise is in SaaS (Software as a Service) or similar, you may want to skip this section.
In a way, a job as a field service engineer is like taking your Level 3 support role on the road. As a field service engineer, you'll generally work onsite at customer locations. In some cases, you'll install hardware and perform preventative maintenance. In others, you'll repair broken hardware in the field.
Consider a field service engineer role if: You like to travel — and working with hardware
Field service engineer salary: $74,602 a year average salary (Source: Salary.com)
3. Technical Sales
A technical sales role enables you to apply your tech skills in a new way. Technical sales roles have different labels such as solutions architect or sales engineer, but the underlying role is similar. As opposed to solving problems on a break/fix basis, you can architect solutions with best practices in mind.
Think of it this way: as a technical salesperson, you can prevent the same problems you used to solve. If you enjoyed working with customers in your Level 3 support role, technical sales may be for you.
Consider a technical sales role if: You like designing solutions and have strong interpersonal skills
Technical sales representative salary: $91,500 a year average salary (Source: Salary.com)
4. Quality Assurance (QA)
If you like testing, tinkering, or process-driven workflows, Quality Assurance might be for you. I personally made the shift from support to a Quality and Business Analyst role earlier this year, so I can vouch for this one a bit. Even if you don't have a formal quality background, your domain knowledge and experience can make you a good fit for QA roles.
Consider a Quality Assurance role if: You like technical deep dives and testing
Quality Assurance Engineer I salary: $65,604 a year average salary (Source: Salary.com)
5. Project Manager
Like QA, project management is an area where your domain knowledge can go a long way. Coupled with a certification like CAPM or PMP, your technical expertise can make you a valuable project manager in your industry. Project managers with technical experience can be a valuable addition to engineering, product management, and sales teams.
Consider a project manager role if: You are process-oriented
Project manager salary: $76,266 a year average salary (Source: Salary.com)
6. Technical Consultant
The viability of working for yourself as a consultant will depend a lot on your industry and experience. For example, there are plenty of consultants and freelancers in the CRM (customer relationship management) software industry. However, niche markets may not have similar demand.
Assuming your technical skillset is in an area where consulting is viable, there are plenty of good reasons to consider it. If you want to start your own business or begin freelancing, consulting is a good way to do so. Similarly, if you want to land a short-term technical gig, consulting gives you that flexibility.
Generally, in a technical consulting role, you can expect to help your customers with design, implementation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of technical solutions.
Consider a technical consultant role if: You want to work for yourself
Technical consultant salary: $74,202 a year average salary (Source: Salary.com)
Final Thoughts: Pick Roles That Work for You
If you're doing Level 3 support today, you should have a robust set of technical and interpersonal skills. Those skills make you a valuable asset in your field. There are plenty of things you could do, but what you should do depends on your interests and goals. As you look for a new job, look to play to those strengths and find new interesting challenges.