Certification Survey Extra: How many certs do you need to succeed in tech support?

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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 These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

Tech support is sometimes viewed as the minor leagues of IT. How many certs could you possibly need?There’s a presumption among many in the information technology (IT) world, as well as among those on the outside looking in, that tech support is largely grunt work that’s handled by the likes of IT’s eager beavers, busily gnawing through a few thick trunks on the way to better things. Support professionals are viewed as minor leaguers hoping to get called up to The Show.

Perhaps because computers have become so ubiquitous and familiar, there’s a degree of “anyone could do that” snobbery that looks down at tech support professionals the way that many people look down at, say, fast food workers. (Which is rich, given the inability of many users, 30-plus years into the personal computing revolution, to confront and correct even minor IT snafus.)

Our recent Computer Technician Certification Survey provided at least one strong indicator that many certified support professionals aren’t just time-servers eager to move on. Our surveys tend to attract participation from tech veterans, but it’s remarkable even with that caveat in mind that 77 percent of survey respondents have worked in support jobs for more than 10 years.

Some might expect that level of professional experience to be accompanied by a fistful of certifications. Certifications, after all, are often largely viewed as an indication of competence, a signifier that the credential holder is demonstrably qualified to act in various IT capacities. Surely the qualifications of a deeply experienced support professional are reflected by extensive certification.

Or maybe you don’t need many certs (if any at all) to enter the tech support realm and stay employed there. We asked survey respondents to tell us how many active computer support credentials they have. Here’s what the breakdown looks like:

Q: How many active computer support certifications do you hold?

One — 26.9 percent
Two — 26.9 percent
Three — 13.2 percent
Four — 8.6 percent
Five — 8.1 percent
Six — 2 percent
Seven — 3 percent
Eight — 1.5 percent
Nine — 0.5 percent
10 or more — 9.1 percent

There are certainly some hard-core certification earners in the mix. More than half (54 percent) of all survey participants, however, have just one or two relevant certifications. It’s not an ironclad case, by any means, but there’s at least a strong indication that you don’t need to have a deep and diverse certification portfolio to work as a tech support professional.

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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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