Computer repair technicians play a vital role in the maintenance of computer systems in the computer technology industry. Their work involves hands-on repair of various types of computers, printers and associated equipment. Technicians also specialize in installation of computer systems. Day-to-day duties include advising customers on using and maintaining computer systems, observing functions of computer systems and identifying errors, ordering repair components and selling supplies, responding to user inquiries regarding computer functions, and performing routine computer maintenance.
These professionals may find work in commercial settings, computer repair shops, entertainment venues, financial institutions, homes, hospitals, industrial sites, the military, offices, schools and technology centers. It is common for technicians to go out into the field to attend to customers, though in some cases computer malfunctions can be diagnosed and fixed remotely. Since computers play an important role in many organizations, technicians need to be available at all times, meaning that many may work on weekends or in the evening. A 40-hour work week is the norm for most repair technicians, although overtime is common.
The level of education that an individual needs to complete will depend on his or her specific career goals. It is not necessary to complete a college degree in order to get started in the field of computer repair. Those who want to work as computer repair technicians will need to have an understanding of computers and how they work, but this can be attained through completing some classes at the college level. Some positions may require an associate degree. Most of the time, a bachelor's degree is not necessary, though some larger software companies may require employee to have one, and jobs that are more technical in nature may only be available to those with a bachelor's degree.
Associate degrees are available in computer science and similar subjects. A computer science associate degree can be found in both in-person and online formats at community colleges as well as some universities and state colleges. Students in one of these programs will take general education classes as well as classes specific to the field of computer science. Courses will cover such topics as object-oriented data structures, database management systems, computer networks, and programming. Individuals will spend around two years of full-time study completing one of these programs, which consist of up to 64 credit hours.
Graduates of these programs will be well-qualified to work as computer repair technicians, as well as in other entry-level jobs related to computer science. Admission to an associate program usually only requires a high school diploma or GED. Tuition will vary depending on the school attended, though it will probably range between $8,000 and $15,000 a year.
Certificate Training Programs
For those who are interested in focusing their studies on specific skills that will prepare them for a job as a computer repair technician, a certificate program may be an appropriate choice. These programs are offered in person and online at colleges and vocational schools, and can typically be completed in less than a year. Students enrolled in one of these programs will take classes like introduction to PC repair, networking protocols and internetworking, introduction to computer hardware, and customer service and troubleshooting skills. Upon completing one of these programs, graduates will be ready to work as computer repair technicians, and will also have gained the knowledge necessary to sit for various professional certificate exams.
Admission to one of these programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, and usually do not require any previous knowledge or experience in the field. Tuition for a certificate training program will of course vary depending on the school, and may cost anywhere from $800 for the total program to $3,300 or more.
A bachelor's degree is not necessary to gain an entry-level position as a computer repair technician. However, those who want the most career advancement opportunities, or who want to work for certain large software companies that require employees to have a bachelor's degree, might find earning one useful. This degree could be in computer science or another related field, such as information science or engineering.
Students who enroll in a bachelor's degree in information science can expect to spend around four year on their studies, and to complete at least 120 credit hours of coursework. This degree will give students a broad base of knowledge of IT and computers on which they can build their career. Courses may include analysis of information systems, fundamentals of object-oriented programming, networking and telecommunications, and introduction to C++ programming. Students may also be required to complete an internship. Upon completing this program a graduate will be prepared to work as a computer repair technician and in other IT careers, such as web designer, network administrator, or associate systems designer.
In order to be admitted to one of these programs a student will need to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some programs are specifically designed as degree-completion programs and require that students have a certain amount of college credits in order to be admitted. Tuition will vary depending on the school but students can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 a year.
Specializations in Computer Repair
In most cases, entry-level repair technicians undertake maintenance work on personal computers and associated equipment. Technicians may eventually advance to working on more complex systems, including networking equipment. Experienced technicians may become field engineers or computer electronics mechanics. With the right amount of experience, a qualified computer repair technician may advance into managerial positions. There are also opportunities to gain the experience needed to work in similar occupations, such as software developer or computer systems administrator.
Earning a professional certification in the field of computer repair is generally voluntary, but is still highly recommended and can benefit a professional's career. For one, earning a professional certification opens up an employee to a huge network of like-minded professionals who are all in similar lines of work. So whether an individual is keeping up with the latest resources and technology available or gaining insight into industry trends and job openings, there are many advantages to being part of such a network. Additionally, earning professional certification is something that most employers tend to favor. In rare instances an employer will actually require certification, but most often they simply prefer applicants who have professional credentials since this indicates that an employee is serious about his or her job and has a commitment to staying current with the field. Oftentimes, earning a professional certification can allow an employee to not only be eligible for more job opportunities, but also for career advancement including promotions as well as increased salaries and benefits.
There are several professional organizations that offer certification for computer repair technicians. One such agency is the Electronics Technicians Association, which offers a wide variety of technical certificates, including the Computer Service Technician certificate. CompTIA is another agency offering professional certification; all of the credentials they offer are specifically for computer professionals. They offer certificates in a variety of areas such as Security+, Network+, and Linux+. Certificates are offered at different levels depending on experience: Basic Series, Specialty Series, Professional Series, and Mastery Series. The certification process generally requires candidates to pass a written examination after different education and experience prerequisites have been fulfilled.
Accreditation is something that students should keep in mind when deciding on which educational program to attend. There are a few different types of accreditation, including regional, national, and program accreditation. Regional and national accreditation both have to do with accrediting the school as a whole. Regional accreditation is offered by one of six regionally-based accrediting agencies, and is typically offered to schools which are non-profit and degree-granting. National accreditation, on the other hand, typically focuses on schools that don't grant degrees, but instead are more focused on vocational and trade education. National accreditation also applies to schools across the country, instead of just in one region. Either way, a school that is granted one of these types of accreditation has been evaluated by an outside agency, and had been found to meet certain educational standards.
Program accreditation is another type that students should be on the lookout for. Different areas of study are evaluated by different accrediting bodies. For example, ABET accredits programs that have to do with computing, engineering, applied science, and engineering technology. The standards set out by ABET are rigorous, and students who complete a program accredited by ABET can be assured that they are earning a degree that will prepare them for their professional lives. However, ABET only accredits associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs, so those who are interested in a computer repair certificate program will not need to worry about finding one that is ABET accredited, since none of them are. A list of all the programs that ABET accredits can be found on their website.
- Accreditation. ABET. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.abet.org/accreditation/.
- Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences and Technology. Penn State Online. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/information-sciences-and-technology-bachelors/overview.
- Computer Science (Associate of Science). Grantham University. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.grantham.edu/online-degrees/computer-science-associates/.
- Computer Science - Associate of Science Degree. Franklin University. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.franklin.edu/computer-science-associates-degree-curriculum.
- Computer Support Technician Certificate. Seattle Vocational Institute. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://svi.seattlecolleges.edu/computer-support-technician.
- Course of Study. University of Pittsburgh. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.ischool.pitt.edu/bsis/course-of-study/.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook - Computer Support Specialists. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States of America. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-1.
- Online Computer Repair Training Course. Ashworth College. Accessed October 6, 2016. https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/career-diplomas/computer-service-repair/.
- Online PC Maintenance and Repair Course. Penn Foster Career School. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/computer-programming-and-support/pc-maintenance-and-repair-career-diploma/tuition.
- Regionally Accredited vs. Nationally Accredited: What's the Difference?. American Intercontinental University. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.aiuniv.edu/blog/june-2015/regionally-accredited-vs-nationally-accredited.
- Tuition and Fees. Franklin University. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.franklin.edu/financial-aid/tuition-fees.
- Tuition and Financial Aid. Grantham University. Accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.grantham.edu/online-college-tuition/online-tuition-rates/.