Help desk operator


The help desk operator is a pivotal role in any organisation. The help desk operator is the first port of call when a staff member is having difficulties in using their PC and/or an information system that they may be using.

The help desk operator needs to have a broad understanding of the information systems that are used in their organisation; they will also need to have a solid understanding of the technology that the organisation is utilising to run the information systems. The help desk operator needs to have very high-level communication skills so that they can determine the user's issue. The help desk operator then diagnoses the problem and identifies whether it is something that can be resolved at point of call or whether the incident needs to be referred to a specialist area within the information technology department for further analysis and then resolution.

The help desk operator is the 'face' of the information technology department; therefore, they need to project a positive, client-focused image whilst resolving incidents in a timely and efficient manner.

A help desk operator exhibits a combination of capabilities from the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) and the Leadership competencies for Queensland.

SFIA profile

Within the SFIA profile, the help desk operator has level 2 capabilities, i.e. assists with the skills outlined below.

Refer to the framework for descriptions of the seven levels of responsibility and accountability.

SFIA skillSFIA skill codeSFIA skill level of responsibilitySFIA skills level descriptor
Incident managementUSUP2Following agreed procedures, identifies, registers and categorises incidents.

Gathers information to enable incident resolution and promptly allocates incidents as appropriate.
Service level managementSLMO2Monitors and logs the actual service provided, compared to that required by service level agreements.
IT infrastructureITOP2Carries out agreed operational procedures of a routine nature. Contributes to maintenance, installation and problem resolution.
Customer service supportCSMG2Responds to common requests for service by providing information to enable fulfilment. Promptly allocates unresolved calls as appropriate. Maintains records, informs users about the process and advises relevant persons of actions taken.

Leadership skills

Leadership competencies for Queensland describes what highly effective, everyday leadership looks like in the sector. In simple, action-oriented language, it provides a common understanding of the foundations for success across all roles. The profile describes three performance dimensions (vision, results and accountability) and 11 leadership competencies required against five leadership streams.

Leadership streams are not connected to a level or classification, but rather reflect the balance between leadership and technical skills required of an individual. Individuals can consider the value proposition of roles rather than the traditional lens of hierarchical structures or classification levels. The five leadership streams are:

  • Individual contributor (Leads self and does not supervise others)
  • Team leader (leads a team and typically reports to a program leader)
  • Program leader (leads team leaders and/or multiple areas of work)
  • Executive (leads program leaders or other executives)
  • Chief executive (leads the organisation).

When developing a role description, identify the role type and then focus on the most important attributes and create a balance between SFIA skills and leadership skills.

Entry points

A degree level qualification is not required to work as an ICT help desk operator, however possession of a degree in areas such as information technology, information systems or corporate systems support would be highly advantageous.

Those with no qualifications in ICT would be considered for a position as an ICT help desk operator, however, it would be expected that without a qualification the applicant would have a high level of information technology environments, including software applications, and the technical infrastructure that applications run on.

A successful ICT help desk operator will have excellent communication skills and a genuine interest in helping and teaching staff about technology in the work place. Superior customer service skills and negotiation skills are essential as an ICT help desk operator.

Learning and development

There are a number of ways that you can develop and improve your help desk skills. There are several courses that you can attend that will increase your general knowledge of the role of a help desk operator.

To assist your skills as a help desk operator, training in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) would be very advantageous.