There is no denying it; computers changed the way the world does business. Today, users are able to perform a near-infinite variety of tasks using computers--and in ways that increase both accuracy and efficiency. Ultimately, however, these complicated systems are just machines, and machines break. Just like cars and appliances require preventative maintenance and ongoing inspections and suffer occasional breakdowns, computers do, too. Skilled individuals are required to get these machines back in working order. Meet computer repair technicians: information technology pros with the know-how and expertise needed to keep computers running smoothly and recover from malfunctions.
In many cases, computer repair techs are employed by manufacturers to meet the obligations set by service contracts. They might install computer equipment when it arrives at the client's business, or follow up with subsequent visits for preventative maintenance. In most cases, one technician in an organization is always on call in case any part of the system fails. These professionals often perform diagnostic tests with specialized equipment to determine the nature and extent of the problem at hand.
They are usually equipped to handle a variety of repairs: replacing hardware components such as network and video cards and circuit boards; swapping out peripherals; rewiring internal components and more. If a tech is unable to repair a machine in the field, he or she might take it back to his or her employer's home office for further analysis or more complicated repairs.
Computer technicians might also work in specialized repair shops, for large companies taking care of in-house repair and maintenance, as individual contractors or in other settings. Job descriptions can also vary, but in general, all computer repair technicians need to be comfortable tackling the following tasks:
- Dealing with and replacing defective parts
- Answering questions and finding solutions for people learning how to use a computer or that are adjusting to an unfamiliar system
- Swapping out computer subsystems such as hard drives, adapters and other components
- Being available during weekend, holiday or evening hours to keep all sorts of computer systems running
What's the best course of training for those interested in computer repair?
Because IT can be a competitive field, it makes sense to obtain formal computer repair training and certification. The College Board suggests that employers often look for techs with an associate degree in electronics technology or similar training from a vocational school, the military or vendors.
Vendor certifications can give those who wish to become computer repair technicians an edge over the competition. Helpful accreditations include:
- CompTIA A+ certification, which "validates foundation-level knowledge and skills necessary for a career in PC support," according to vendor information.
- Cisco's CCENT certification might be valuable for repair techs dealing with networked products and peripherals, as it "demonstrates the skills required for entry-level network support positions," according to the vendor.
- Microsoft's MCTS certification endorsement could be beneficial for computer repair technicians as it shows skills related to a variety of Windows products and devices. Something that could be helpful when troubleshooting both hardware and software problems.
Those who wish to become computer repair technicians are likely to find a wide range of both training options and career opportunities.
What is the average computer repair technician salary?
Like most careers, the earnings of computer repair techs depend on a number of factors including everything from employer to experience and region. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that a majority of computer techs are hourly employees--bringing in about $19 an hour, or approximately $39,500 annually in 2010.
Computerworld magazine's 2011 Salary Survey painted an even rosier picture for those in this field. The magazine's research showed that entry-level technicians brought home about $49,527 in base pay and $1,556 in bonuses, for a net total of $51,083. Help desk and technical support specialists also earned enviable salaries according to the survey; these IT pros took in about $56,177 annually.
What does the job outlook look like for computer repair techs?
A quick search of Dice.com, a job search information source for those in IT careers, recently produced nearly 700 nationwide job opportunities for those specializing in computer repair. Results for both part- and full- time positions came up, so it's likely that those who wish to become computer repair technicians will find a lot of flexibility in the field. Though many of these opportunities are scattered throughout the country, a higher concentration of jobs seem to be available in the following areas:
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
BLS data suggests that the best job candidates in this sector are those who are certified by vendors, and indicates those with formal training--including two- or four-year degrees--and repair experience will likely find the best prospects.