Having a qualified staff for your tasks can make or break a company, but there's such thing as overkill. An Information Technology (IT) help desk team needs a good mix of skilled, experienced leaders, call-handlers who can handle most client questions, and newbies who can learn quickly while making company policy part of their formative IT training. To figure out what is necessary for different parts of help desk and how much is too much, here is a bit of IT industry training and skillset information.
What Is The General Help Desk Experience?
Your standard help desk professional needs to have a general understanding of all business hardware and software. There are no requirements to be an expert of every system and computer integration for other parts of the business, although it can help. Avoiding requiring mastery is a good way to keep help desk agile--and to avoid pushing your talent to other businesses.
The core IT help desk skillset means knowing how to administrate and troubleshoot the business' computer systems, which means knowing the main operating system. Most businesses operate on Windows or Linux of some version/flavor, so asking for help desk professionals who are at least power users of those operating systems is key.
Windows will net the largest pool of experienced technicians because it is the more market-advertised operating system. Although Apple's OSX is popular through the Mac and related devices, part of the Apple ethos involves needing little maintenance, which means that fewer people will have casual, technical skill, and interest as compared to the middle ground workhorse that is Windows.
What Certifications Are Necessary?
If you're looking for certifications, it depends on what your system works on. The previous statement about operating systems is the ultimate decision point for certs, but there are ways to get technicians who have more generalized skillsets.
The Microsoft Technology Agent (MTA) is a Microsoft-specific certificate that is pretty much bound to Windows-based systems, such as the Windows 7, 8, and 10 operating systems for desktops and laptops.
Windows 2012 and 2016 are the server operating systems, being the modern version of the Windows Server 2000 and 2003 server systems, but these certifications are handled under Microsoft's more advanced certifications, such as Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).
CompTIA's A+ certification is a bit less vendor-specific, but it still supports itself upon a final understanding of modern Windows workstation operating systems. It seeks to help technicians understand workstations, servers, printers, and networking equipment in ways that build the foundation for other connected paths. CompTIA has other certifications, such as Server+, Network+, and Security+.
Your helpdesk professionals can have any related certifications, or no certifications at all. What matters is that they have an understanding of your systems, can demonstrate those skills on a practical test or verbal interview, and would be willing to make their skills official with certifications. Certs cost money, so it's understandable to give the help desk level a working salary to enable certification purchase--your help desk leadership, however, should at least have a few certifications under their belt.
Contact an IT help desk company to discuss staffing and skill levels to help your business' support community thrive.