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Next move: Is a Microsoft Technician course the best way into IT?

I am seeking my first step on the IT ladder in a front-line desktop support role, and am considering becoming a Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician. I have no commercial IT experience. Is this course the best way to get into IT and what is the average starting salary for an entry-level role? Also, is this course recognised by employers?

The solution: Convince an employer to pay

The MCDST course is a good one and is recognised as a useful indicator of the skills employers can expect from you. Yes, I would say it is worth doing. The course covers the skills of helpdesk technician, customer support representative, PC support specialist, technical support representative, and technical support specialist.

It is recognised this is a different skillset from that of someone holding a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer qualification. More and more companies are looking for candidates with specialist, rather than generalist, desktop skills, particularly in the financial services and legal sectors. This would fit your career aspirations, but there is a drawback. Ideally, people taking this course should have six to 12 months' experience supporting end-users of a desktop operating system. However, you may find a firm is happy to take you on and actually pay for this qualification.

Entry-level salaries with this qualification range from £22,000 to £25,000. Without commercial experience, you could start on as little as £16,000. You do not mention your current skillset. A Higher National Diploma or a degree in IT would probably give you enough desktop knowledge to go straight onto the course.

Solution by Tracey Abbott, divisional director of the Zarak Group and board member of ATSCO

The panel: Plan-Net Services, Hudson, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, No Limits Coaching, The Training Camp

E-mail your career questions to computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk


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