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Learn with IT support courses online

From troubleshooting computer systems issues to providing cybersecurity services, IT support technicians perform a wide range of functions. Learn more about what IT departments do and how to build your skills in this field with online IT support courses.

What are IT support services?

While many people think of the information technology (IT) department as their lifeline for fixing their laptop when something breaks or resetting their password, IT professionals play a significantly more important role in organizations than simply assisting with those tasks. 

When an IT department is effectively integrated into a business or organization, it can help achieve organizational goals by understanding the needs of various teams, and identifying and applying the correct technological solutions to produce results. By helping to manage an organization's technological resources, this department can ensure operations run smoothly and anticipate changes that need to be made as technology evolves and business needs shift.

IT departments and help desk engineers use their technical expertise and problem-solving skills to provide software and hardware support, network management, and cyber security services, among other functions. They can also advocate for teams and workers in an organization, helping to evaluate technological services or vendors that may be useful and then integrating those technologies into existing processes and workflows. Overall, the role of an IT technician is to ensure that the organization's technology is working properly and is secured, maintained, upgraded, and/or replaced as needed. 

Those seeking a position in the field may want to highlight their technical know-how in any job interviews. That can relate to the functions mentioned above and can also include knowledge about programming, human-computer interaction, database management, and web systems. The ability to communicate effectively is a soft skill, but an important skill for anyone in this role. IT communications can be challenging when working with employees who have significantly less technical knowledge than an IT professional. Being able to break down complicated concepts and explain the benefits or pitfalls of certain technologies can be crucial to performing this role effectively. 

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Different types of IT services

For somebody interested in building a career in IT services, there are a variety of roles they can pursue, such as an IT support technician, a help desk engineer, and an IT communications specialist. Organizations often need internal support to manage their technology and work with vendors. And many businesses that serve consumers may also offer technical support for the products or services they sell. These departments must be responsive to the needs of the organization, so all IT departments do not look the same. 

Examples of IT services include, but are not limited to:

  • AdministrationFootnote 1

    • Maintain computer infrastructures, performing necessary updates, and monitoring potential security threats.

    • Onboard new employees onto new platforms and technologies that are critical for business functions.

    • Ensure that company data is stored properly and securely.

  • Technical supportFootnote 1

    • Vet and install new hardware and software services.

    • Provide software and hardware support, troubleshooting any problems that may arise, and maintaining IT assets and supplies.

    • Oversee network management, ensuring that operations run smoothly and any interruptions are addressed.

  • GovernanceFootnote 2

    • Help to create a framework that aligns an organization’s IT investments with its business objectives

    • Establish and enforce rules regarding use of an organization's technological resources.

Explore IT support technician jobs

The IT support specialist is a critical part of any organization. When issues crop up with products and services delivered to customers, the IT department can ensure that the disruption in user experience is addressed quickly. They can also address issues with internal systems and technology. And there are many different functions that people within this department can focus on. Job roles can include, but are not limited to:

  • Help desk engineer: Fix technical problems, explain technology topics to non-tech professionals, provide customer support, and offer troubleshooting support.Footnote 3

  • IT support specialist: Investigate and evaluate technology problems at an organization, and ensure a positive user experience for external customers.Footnote 4

  • Network Administrator: Install and maintain network and hardware systems, repair connectivity issues, and monitor and maintain network speed and availability.Footnote 5

  • Systems administrator: Ensure hardware and software are working properly, install applications, update software systems, and maintain user accounts.Footnote 6

  • Cybersecurity engineer: Solve security issues, evaluate new technologies for security, install firewalls, and respond to information security issues.Footnote 7

edX can help pave the pathway to a career in IT, offering IT support courses and IT support tutorials. For learners interested in a more formal education setting, there are also many undergraduate academic opportunities to study IT, including master’s-level education.

How to become an IT specialist online

To become an IT support technician, professionals may need to demonstrate knowledge of specific subjects within IT, such as software services and IT communications. For those seeking instruction on IT as a whole, an IT curriculum could include the following courses:

  • Information technology fundamentals

  • Information security

  • Human-computer interaction

  • Information management

  • Programming

  • Math and statistics 

  • Systems administration and maintenance

  • Web systems 

Although a degree is not always required, completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer and data science, which can be done entirely online, can help set potential job applicants apart. Alternatively, a boot camp can cover a broad curriculum.

There are also online IT support tutorials and free IT support courses online that can support an aspiring student’s career growth within the industry.