An application support specialist is an information technology (IT) or a computer network technician who is an expert in one or more commonly used computer applications, such as spreadsheet or word processing programs. While most US education and government sites stress the need for a bachelor's degree in computer science to become an application support specialist, review of job openings in this field stresses experience over education. In some cases, workshops sponsored by an application's company and classes in computer science, information technology or business administration can fulfill the position's educational requirements. So, while someone can become an application support specialist without a four-year degree related to computers or business, earning such a degree might certainly help the graduate attain a given position over other applicants. Overall, experience in working with both the applications and the end-users — the company employees with a personal computer on their desks — is the most important qualification to become an application support specialist.
Except for very large or specialized companies, most application support specialists share other duties within a company's IT department or specialize in more than one application. In their application support duties, they are responsible for software installation on individual personal computers (PCs) and necessary updates as they become available from the software publisher. An application support specialist is also part of the business-wide troubleshooting system when bugs or unknown issues arise, particularly when they involve his specialty applications. Despite the technical aspect of this position, good communication skills with other people are helpful for those who want to become an application support specialist. Many of a specialist's daily tasks often involve one-on-one communication with an application's end-users to facilitate their work or identify the cause of crashes or errors.
In addition to these skills, an application support specialist may be part of a new employee's orientation to the company's computer system and an instructor for in-house classes on the primary applications used in various positions. Specialists may also be involved in additional teaching, as when significant software upgrades are made available and new aspects of the system or user process require explanation. A minority of application support specialists work for the software publishing company itself in its technical help and customer service department. This type of telephone or instant chat consultation requires excellent problem identification and problem solving skills. In order to meet all the needs of their positions, support specialists often take college classes and additional application-use courses to remain up-to-date regarding their specialty application or applications.