IT Support Manager
IT support managers provide or co-ordinate advice and support to IT users. They manage staff and resources in their department. They aim to provide a continuous IT service for users in their organisation.
Also known as
- Computer Support Manager
- Manager, IT Support
Video: - Chris: Computer/IT Support Manager
Video: - Adam: Technical Manager
IT support managers are typically responsible for a team of staff that could include help desk operators and analysts, computer service technicians and network technicians and administrators.
Some support managers provide day-to-day support themselves, particularly for more complicated support issues or in smaller departments. This might involve working on a help desk, taking calls from users. The support manager asks the users for details of the problems they are experiencing, and talks them through the steps necessary to solve these problems.
In many cases, telephone advice is enough, but in others, they might have to go to the user's own office and work directly on their computer.
An important aspect of their work is managing the staff and the resources of their section or department. These responsibilities are likely to include:
- recruiting new staff
- organising help desk and support rotas
- monitoring the number and type of problems being reported
- improving efficiency and customer service in the team
- managing a budget
- forward planning
- organising and (in some cases) delivering training
- preparing management reports
- reviewing the effectiveness of existing systems.
They might also be involved in deciding which hardware and software to buy to meet the organisation's needs. Other responsibilities can include negotiating service level agreements with external suppliers of IT-related services, and recovering data if the system crashes (breaks down).
When problems come up because of technical issues, support managers work with other IT staff in the organisation, for example, the computer network manager.
Support managers might have to plan and organise a time when the computer system can be shut down for essential maintenance or an upgrade, so that the work of the organisation is disrupted as little as possible, for example, in the evening or at the weekend.
They might also have to liaise with external hardware and software suppliers, and specialist agencies, such as internet access providers.
When their organisation plans to introduce new hardware or software, support managers need to become familiar with this as soon as possible (or delegate a member of the staff team to become familiar with it), so that they can provide the right level of support to users.
They might be asked to advise on the introduction of new systems, and often become members of planning groups concerning the use of new technology. They need to keep up to date with developments in IT.
Some support managers also take responsibility for network management. This means that they are responsible for the efficient and secure operation of any computer networks used in their organisation.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
As an IT support manager, you'll need:
- A detailed knowledge of computer systems, networks, hardware and software.
- Good business knowledge and management skills.
- Good written and spoken communication skills.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Leadership skills.
You should be able to:
- Plan ahead.
- Solve problems.
- Manage your time.
- Prioritise work.
- Work under pressure.
- Work well in a team.
- Analyse complicated information and make decisions.
- Manage a budget.
- Keep calm when major problems occur (such as network failures).
- Encourage and motivate people.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
Salaries are in the range of £26,000 - £33,500 a year, rising to £42,500 - £55,500. Higher earners can make over £70,000 a year.
Salaries might include performance-related pay, profit share or company bonuses.
Hours of work
IT support managers usually work a basic 37-hour week, Monday to Friday. Late finishes and weekend work might be required, and in some circumstances, they could be called out to deal with emergencies.
Where could I work?
Employers are in industry and commerce, including banks, building societies and insurance companies, and in the public sector, with local and central government departments and the NHS.
Opportunities for IT support managers occur in towns and cities throughout the UK. A significant number of vacancies for IT and telecoms professionals are in London and the South East of England.
What's happening in this work area?
The IT industry is predicted to grow much faster than the rest of the UK workforce over the next decade. The recession has affected the IT industry, but overall it has emerged in a very strong position.
One reason for this strength is the realisation, by the global economy, of the importance of IT in helping businesses to survive the recession and economic downturn. Investment in technology is also viewed by many as a way for public bodies to become more efficient.
There is a shortage of candidates with IT skills and qualifications in the UK.
Future skills needsTechnical skills are highly important in this industry. However, employers have also highlighted the need for the following non-technical skills:
- teamworking skills
- good communication skills
- business skills.
Opportunities occur for experienced IT support managers to work on a freelance basis - usually on short-term contracts.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on specialist IT job boards and employers' websites, in computing magazines and professional journals, in local/national newspapers, on Universal Jobmatch and at Jobcentre Plus.
Short-term contract work is found through specialist IT recruitment agencies.
Entry Routes and Training
Most IT support managers have a relevant degree or HND such as computer science, information systems or network technology. A few higher education courses offer technical or end-user support as their main focus.
Full-time and part-time foundation degrees are offered in various computing subjects.
A number of universities offer the Information Technology Management for Business degree that has been jointly developed with major employers. Some universities and employers offer internships or student placements that develop business, communication and interpersonal skills.
Many entrants gain experience in a role such as support technician, service engineer, help desk analyst, systems analyst or network administrator, before obtaining a position as an IT support manager.
An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start.
Many IT support managers study part-time for further qualifications; for example, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT offers several professional certifications in IT including IT Service Management certificates at ITIL Foundation, Specialist and ITIL Intermediate levels. The Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS) offers the Diploma and the Higher Diploma.
They might also study for qualifications relevant to the specific networks and systems used in their organisation, for example, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), or Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). Studying for these qualifications typically involves attending short, intensive courses at specially accredited training centres.
They are also likely to have to attend short courses provided by suppliers and external training organisations to help familiarise them with new hardware and software prior to its introduction in their organisation.
IT support managers can progress to senior IT management posts after further experience.
Most IT support managers are graduates. Many also have experience in a role such as service engineer, systems analyst or network administrator.
The usual requirement for entry to a degree in computer science or information systems is:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C or above in 2/3 other subjects
- English and Maths at GCSE.
You might need Maths at A level for some computer science degrees.
Alternatives to A levels include:
- Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some employers will consider applicants with relevant skills, even if they do not have the usual academic qualifications.
These skills could be gained as a systems designer, programmer, engineer or analyst, with a focus on one or more specialised areas of IT, such as networks or databases. Experience as a team leader can be an advantage for entry into management-level posts.
For senior posts, taking the MBA (Master of Business Administration) can be an advantage.
A range of manufacturer accredited courses are available on an intensive basis, often flexible and part-time, including evenings and weekends.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
The Professional Graduate Diploma course of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, is available by distance learning.
The Open University offers degrees and postgraduate qualifications in computing and networking subjects.
The University of Portsmouth offers degrees in Business Information Systems and also Computing and Information Systems by distance learning.
Queen Mary, University of London offers an MSc in Computing Information Systems by distance learning.
- 4% of people in occupations such as IT support manager work part-time.
- 17% have flexible hours.
- 2% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.
The Tech Partnership
Skills for business and information technology
Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR
Tel: 020 7963 8920
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT
Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA
Tel: 0845 3004417
Capita Learning and Development
Tel: 0800 0223410
Bring IT On
Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU
Tel: 020 3353 2000
Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS)
Address: Suite A, (Part) 2nd Floor, 3 White Oak Square, Swanley, Kent BR8 7AG
Tel: 0845 8500006
Professional Issues in Information Technology
Author: Frank Bott Publisher: Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844