BlogCareersWhat Does an IT Technician Do? | Roles, Skills, Advice

What Does an IT Technician Do? | Roles, Skills, Advice

So you’re tossing up potential career paths and a future in IT has peaked your interest? Have you come to this article to get a clearer idea of what exactly being an IT technician entails?

Well you’ve come to the right place! We chatted with Paul, IT technician extraordinaire, to answer all your burning questions about the role, the types of skills needed, what the industry is like, and so much more.

Right, let’s get into it!

Meet Paul
What is an IT Technician?
Steps to Becoming an IT Technician
Future Outlook
Best Thing & Worst Thing
Advice for Aspiring IT Technicians

Meet Paul

Paul Rafferty is an IT technician at NEXA Group, an Australian company which offers solutions to improve customer service experiences across various businesses and organisations.

His role there includes providing IT assistance to clients and staff, physically assembling certain hardware and offering field technician support by occasionally travelling to different clients and with technology set up.

Studies and Experience 

Paul grew up in Northern Ireland, where he completed a 3-year course about computers at a technical college. The course covered everything you needed to know about computer foundations, including hardware and software.

It placed strong emphasis on industry experience. The necessary work placement proved valuable to Paul, helping him land his first job as an IT technician working alongside politicians.

From there, Paul moved to Australia, where he has since worked as a technician in various industries such as engineering, construction and now, NEXA.

Note: A technical college course = A university course

What made you want to work in this industry?

For Paul, his interest in computers and technology started at a very young age.

“As a kid, computers just made sense to me and I was able to pick it up, no problem,” Paul shared.

What is an IT Technician?

IT technicians are responsible for the smooth running and maintenance of a company’s computer and network systems. 

Roles and Responsibilities

Their roles include troubleshooting, setting up devices and software, identifying issues with computer hardware and helping solve customers’ technical enquiries. These roles differ in various employment contexts. 

For example, a unique responsibility Paul currently holds at NEXA is the physical building of one of the company’s technical products — their customer service kiosks.

This shows just how diverse a career as an IT technician can be!

Which industries can this career be found in?

Computers are a super important part of nearly every industry on the planet. Where there is technology, there is a need for IT technicians.

According to JobOutlook, the industry currently employing the largest number of IT technicians is Professional, Scientific and Technical Services. This includes places of employment such as law firms, science labs, advertising companies and engineering firms!

The next three most popular industries include Education and Training, Public Administration and Safety, and Information Media and Telecommunications.

What jobs do people sometimes confuse this with?

People often confuse IT technicians with other tech jobs such as web developing, programming and software design. 

Paul explained that people often assume being in an IT role means that he is a super skilled coder who spends all his time programming — when in actual fact, this is not the case. 

IT technicians address the hardware of computers and other information technologies. They perform troubleshooting and help to fix technical problems stemming from the physical machine and its operations.

Alternatively, programming and coding are practices used in roles such as software engineering — a completely separate job where individuals design, develop and produce computer software.

Characteristics and Qualities 

What Does an IT Technician Do - Characteristics

There are a lot of relevant skills for this role, however some of the most important ones are:

  • Active Listening
  • Problem Solving
  • Instructing 
  • Navigation of computers 
  • Speaking

Paul said, “​​The most important part has always been being able to communicate with people — regardless of who they are, what they believe in or where they’re from.”

Steps to Becoming an IT Technician

What should you study? 

You do not need formal qualifications to work as an IT technician. It is possible to enter the workforce by demonstrating your competency to employers.

However, a TAFE or university qualification in Information Technology is identified as highly useful — as it can help streamline this process of job-hunting by equipping you with advantageous technical skills. 

Some possible courses you might want to study include:

How long does it take to become an IT Technician?

As mentioned, there are multiple avenues one can take to enter into this career. Those who decide to pursue tertiary education can expect to spend approximately 2-3 years studying, whereas some lucky people will be able to land a job straight out of high school.

Industry Knowledge

According to Paul, there isn’t any singular software used by all IT technicians. 

However, there is one piece of knowledge that is universally relevant to all — that being, knowing how to effectively research solutions to problems they don’t know the answer to.

Technology is constantly evolving and IT technicians can’t be expected to know every little detail about everything. Thus, Google is often a frequently used tool.

What will this career look like in the future?

How in-demand is this career?

This career is in relative high-demand, as countless industries rely on IT technicians to stay operational. According to JobOutlook, over the next 5 years, demand for IT technicians is expected to strongly increase.

Are there opportunities to grow or specialise? 

Different companies offer different opportunities for career growth. 

People who work hard and show leadership potential will often have the chance to undertake some form of team leadership position.

Furthermore, working in IT can form the strong foundation for further study or employment in other technology-related fields, such as cyber security, IT sales or computer networking.

Salary

Annual SalaryFuture GrowthSkill Level Rating
$77,000+Very strong over the next 5 yearsHigh skill

Influential Trends 

The development of new technologies will forever influence the way IT technicians operate — opening up jobs for technicians in new fields, as well as changing the way technician-client communication occurs. 

Eventually, artificial intelligence could potentially pose a threat to this career path in the distant future, with AI assuming the duties of IT technicians.

The Future of this Industry

Employment opportunities in this field are predicted to continue growing, at least for the next few years. 

The exact roles and responsibilities of technicians will probably shift as more sophisticated forms of technology and computers emerge. With this in mind, Paul’s advice to future generations of IT technicians is to be flexible. 

Don’t ground yourself by thinking you should be an expert on one single computer type. Currently, technicians juggle a large range of different computer technologies and this will only increase as society grows more advanced.

Best Thing & Worst Thing

What do you enjoy most about the job?

Paul said that his favourite thing about being an IT technician is the challenge of solving each client’s support request. He enjoys the troubleshooting aspect of it — assessing the problem and using clues to unravel it.

He explained, “Every job that comes up is like a little mystery. To solve it, you have to think, ‘What do I need? What are the red herrings? Why am I going down this avenue?’” 

Additionally, in his current role at NEXA, Paul has been able to travel all around Australia — something he didn’t think possible had it not been for his work.

I’m also physically building the kiosks and going to the site and installing it, which means I’ve been able to travel to Darwin, Perth and Queensland,” he explained.

What do you feel is the worst part of the job?

Working in IT support, you deal with a lot of people who are frustrated and stressed because their technology isn’t working. Because of this, people can be quite short and abrupt with you. 

What Does an IT Technician Do - Quote

Advice for Aspiring IT Technicians

What do you wish you had known before you started working in this career?

One thing Paul wished he had known before becoming an IT technician is just how much on-the-job learning there actually is. While tertiary study helped introduce him to key concepts and skills, the majority of his learning took place in the workforce, where he was constantly introduced to new hardware and ways of doing things. 

Thus, people in this role need to be willing learners and agile with the knowledge that they have, so as to be able to apply it to the diverse range of challenges they may face.

Why should people consider taking on this career?

Paul explained that being an IT technician is an incredibly satisfying role. With each support call you are helping better someone’s day by fixing a problem that they have.

It is the ideal role for anyone who shudders at the thought of doing the same thing, day in, day out. The average day of an IT technician varies greatly!

As Paul puts it, “Help desks have to firefight a multitude of different things and you just never know what you’ll have to deal with”.

Job Flexibility 

While the exact number and nature of contact hours differs for technicians according to their company, most IT support desks won’t have a lot of flexibility in regards to hours. This is because support desks offer their services during a specific timeframe so that clients know when to contact them. Hence, these hours must be covered by technicians.

For big companies with clients across different time zones, you can expect shift work. 

For some companies offering remote IT support, these technicians have the luxury of working from home! How great is that?

What is the workplace culture like?

The workplace culture for IT technicians varies depending on the company. 

Paul says he has been particularly fortunate in this department, with his current company having a super friendly workplace culture. He attributes this to their small size, meaning IT technicians work collaboratively to resolve client problems and department heads often treat their staff to lunch!

If you’re set on studying an IT degree, check out some other careers you should consider here!


Jessica Arentz is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney where she studies a Bachelor of Arts/Advanced Studies (Media and Communications) (Marketing). She currently volunteers at 2SER community radio station as a producer and newsroom reader. When not writing, you can find Jess searching the web for cheap flights or spending her days with her head buried deep in a book.

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