Certification Survey Extra: The helpdesk launch pad, Part 1

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Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

Is your tech support job merely a launch pad to help you move on to something better?Many working professionals from different backgrounds can look back at time served (so to speak) answering the phones in a call center, or managing a convenience store. We’ve all been there, right? That job you took with the clear intention of moving on as soon as you had access — through achieving an educational milestone, for example — to something better.

In the IT industry, working at a helpdesk or other IT support job is often viewed in the same light as some of the placeholder jobs that, say, law students take on while burning the midnight oil toward a law degree. It offers you the chance to pay the bills and keep yourself (plus family members, if any) afloat financially, but may not have a great deal of long-term impact on your career.

Do tech support professionals view their own jobs in that regard? When conducting our recent Computer Technician Certification Survey, we decided to ask the question of certified computer support professionals. What’s on the horizon, professionally? Do they look forward in time and see themselves in a professional environment more or less like the one that surrounds them currently?

We asked a couple of questions that touch on this issue, actually, which is why this is a Part 1. We’ll be back next week to offer some further insight. For now, however, we started out by asking certified computer support professionals how likely they think they are to still be working in IT, but have switched to a different field, in the next three to five years.

In other words, are you using computer support as a launch pad to move to a different IT sector? Remember that these are certified support professionals, or people who have already invested a degree of time, effort, and money to achieve a credential that validates the skill set they’re currently using.

More than a quarter (28.9 percent) of those surveyed are pretty certain they’ll be moving on to greener IT pastures in three to five years, rating themselves as very likely to look for work in a different IT field. A further 27.7 percent said it’s likely they’ll be looking for employment elsewhere in IT, while 22.9 percent consider it at least somewhat likely.

That leaves just 20.5 percent who are relatively satisfied with their current situation and say it’s not likely that they’ll look for a different kind of IT work in the next three to five years. It would appear, then, that a fair number of IT support pros see themselves as marking time at their current job.

Most of those surveyed, on the other hand, seem to consider IT in general as a fairly fixed career path. When we asked certified support professionals how likely they are to look for work outside the IT realm in the next three to five years, 61 percent said essentially that it’s not going to happen.

That means there are some in the field with non-IT aspirations: 15.9 percent of those surveyed said that they think it’s at least somewhat likely they’ll seek non-IT employment in the next three to five years, while 11.6 percent said it’s likely, and 11.6 percent said it’s very likely. So not everyone who enters the IT support realms and gets a certification is trading on a long-term interest in IT.

As a general rule, however, it would seem that most certified computer support professionals intend to stick around in IT whether or not they stay on in the support realm.

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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