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Help Desk - Support Salaries
There are several yearly salary surveys that gather and analyze information about that nations tech support industry. These surveys tend to show that some major changes occurred in 2003. While those changes were positive for those who are just entering that particular employment category for the first time, they may have a generally more negative impact on the industry as a whole, and on customers and customer relations. 2003 was a tough year in the software industry, perhaps reflecting declining economic conditions throughout this economic sector. However, the news is either good or bad, depending on the person looking at the data.

Field support technicians were clear winners in the industrys salary race in 2003, with an average salary increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous year. Similarly, entry-level support technicians were recipients of about a 5 percent average salary upswing during 2003. For those just graduating from college, with a newly minted degree in hand, or for those seeking a career change and considering where and when to jump, the outlook for help desk and technical support seems favorable.

On the other hand, department managers, senior support technicians, and analyst/project managers saw salaries in those three categories showing no change from the prior year. Maybe more importantly, both ends of the spectrum - senior support executives and customer service representatives -both saw average salaries fall. Senior support executives dropped nearly 10 percent over 2002, and customer service reps saw a smaller, but nonetheless significant, downswing of just below 5 percent.

What does that mean? It seems that the overall effect for the industry was a negative one. The three areas in which salaries remained stagnant - senior support techs, project managers and department managers - are some of the industrys most valuable players. Industry efficiency may be more dependent on experienced employees than entry level ones. It is more experienced personnel who typically handle personal relationships with customers, build new knowledge assets, and resolve the toughest questions. When the industry does not adequately support senior personnel with salary increases, it may mean that customer service is headed for trouble.

There are a number of industry variables for the help desk and customer support areas. These include employee skill levels, the size of the support organization, overall company revenues, and product prices. These are some of the areas on which many of the salary surveys hope to obtain useful salary information.

The most significant changes reflected some of these salary surveys are the substantial increase in median field support technician salaries and the less substantial, but still significant decrease in median senior support executive salaries. The trends seem to show a movement toward greater compensation for entry-level employees and the same, or decreased levels of compensation for more experienced personnel. There are several things that these trends may indicate. First, it may be a trend toward a downswing in the industry. Second, it may be indicative of an overall downswing in the economy. Third, and more likely, these trends may be indicative of a corrective action in the market for help desk personnel and managers. Clearly by watching trends and data, a company can gauge where the industry is headed and learn a little bit more about how to proceed with developing a strategy.

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