Technical Support Engineer Roadmap | Best and Full Guide For Beginners
Hello! Most recently, I made a post where I talked about my former job as a technical support engineer. Several people wrote to me and, despite the not entirely flattering review of this position, they asked me to draw up a roadmap for how to become a technical support engineer, what skills are needed for this and what to expect in an interview.
This is the article I decided to write. I will draw on personal experience. Everything that I write was personally mine and I personally experienced it. I hope my it will be useful to you.
The first thing you need is SQL. I consider the query language to be a universal hard skill that is needed for any specialty, no matter what you want and will be doing in IT, you will definitely need SQL. By the way, this article describes in detail why you should learn it right now.
SQL or Structured Query Language is a thing that will help you easily communicate with databases, pull out the information you need to work from archived data from the server. For those who have not read my previous article, I will say that I worked for an airline ticket distributor. An analogue of Scyscanner, but designed more for a European audience. For example, not every day, but literally every hour, I took out logs of purchased tickets, logs of user clicks on the "buy" button, logs of user data in order to solve a particular problem, or improve user experience.
We had huge databases, every second they were replenished with data on thousands of new user clicks, so queries had to be efficient and not demanding so as not to overload the DBMS.
As a technical support engineer, you will have to deal with databases one way or another, sooner or later you will have to write your first SQL query. Better sooner. In addition, there is a lot of material on SQL on our site, for example, there is an article where we analyze the best resources for learning the query language. I advise you to read it, it may be useful to you.
The level of Linux proficiency may vary and depend on the activities of the company in which you get a job, but most often a basic knowledge of Linux system administration is sufficient. It is enough to know and master the basic commands in the terminal, navigation through the command line, simple manipulations with directories, as well as network commands.
I myself did not work much in the terminal before my first job and learned it in the process, but I think that if I had this knowledge and skills in advance, then my adaptation process at the first job would have been much easier and painless. For example, the most frequent case in the workflow was checking the workload of data centers. It was important to evaluate user demand for specific hours and days. Or, for example, send a curl request to our integration API. In a word, these were mainly network commands.
Again, sooner or later, even if you haven't been tested for an interview, you will need some Linux administration skills, at least basic ones. We wrote in detail about the command line in this article. I advise you to familiarize yourself with this, as well as in this article, where we provide free courses for mastering these skills.
Right there, next to Linux, I'll tell you about networks. Our site has an amazing article about the best books on networking, I advise you to choose one of the selection and read. Knowledge of networks will help you a lot in the interview. The first 7 questions at the interview for me were devoted specifically to networks, the main network protocols.
The most popular question is how the Internet works, how HTTPS protocols differ from HTTP, what curl is, I was also asked to read the logs and tell them what the problem is. There were barely a few questions about error codes, such as 502, 200, 404 and others, but it was more like we got loose and started to have a good time and chat about different things.
At the interview, they ask for basic things that you can learn 5 minutes before the interview, like me, but I don’t advise doing that. Do not repeat my mistakes, do everything gradually and in a coordinated way, studying networks from books. I tried different methods - I studied networks in courses on Udemy, Skillshare, watched videos on YouTube, read useful posts on Reddit, but books turned out to be the most effective method. I was surprised, too. A paper book where you can draw diagrams with a pencil. In general, do not be like me - study networks consistently, read books and be more inquisitive.
Yes, don't laugh. Like everywhere else, you need tables. Even if you work only with the query language, downloading a CSV file from Impala, you will still need to do some data manipulation in order to provide it to a partner or client in an ideal format.
For example, a very common case - the partner does not see the data on the purchased air tickets, but it is in our database. I need to make a request to our database, find this transaction according to the reservation data and provide it to the partner. The partner does not need to know our raw data. There is a lot of secret corporate information there, so I need to select only boring columns and rows from the CSV file according to the appropriate criteria.
In short, as soon as I came to this job, I thought I was a spreadsheet guru, but I was wrong. I was so bad at them that it was easier for me to manipulate data through python, in particular thanks to the pandas library. Speaking of python btw.
This is exactly the case when the requirements of the employer may vary depending on the company and type of activity. Personally, I didn’t really need python, but I periodically used it to simplify my life and automate some processes. So, for example, we periodically compared our offers and offers of tickets of competitors in order to remain more profitable in the eyes of competitors.
While others were doing the panalysis manually, I wrote the simplest script in the world (I speak python at a very intermediate level, so the easiest) that parses competitor sites on selenium, bs4 and plots for clarity using pandas and matplotlib (more some seaborn).
If you are not familiar with these spells I wrote, don't worry, it's not necessary to know, I'm just giving an example of how python knowledge and more specific skills can differ from company to company and that even basic knowledge of the basics, such as loops and functions, can be your advantage in the interview.
This is a very strange point, so I'll explain. English is not my native language, and I worked with an English-speaking team in Shanghai. I would summarize this point and call it - Communication. This is a very important soft skill, which is sometimes even more important than SQL or Python. The technical support engineer is not customer support, and you don't have to deal with customers that often. I thought so, too.
My work was completely based on interaction with partners (I was engaged in b2b technical support). We communicated mainly via email through the Freshdesk ticket management system. So, communication turned out to be almost the decisive factor in which I was hired. I repeat, it all depends on the type of your activity and the company in which you work, but properly built communication is the key to at least successfully passing the interview stage.
I can hardly offer you a way to learn communication, because everything here depends more on your experience and, I would say, on innate eloquence, but I can suggest that you familiarize yourself with other soft skills that could be useful to you for your work.
Despite all my criticism in this article, I do not consider this work to be bad. It was a great experience for me, where I learned a lot, understood a lot about the IT industry in general and got a push for further development. Yes, it was not easy and a lot of criticism accumulated over the years of experience, but I tried to make my life easier by constant self-education. I have always learned something new and continue to do so. Now, for example, I became interested in statistics and probability theory, but more on that some other time.
If you set yourself the goal of finding yourself such a job, then do not listen to a guy on the Internet like me, go your own way, just do not ignore advice from someone who has already gone through this and knows what he is talking about.