Computer installation and repair professionals work on personal computers, office mainframes, web servers, and everything in between. Certification and postsecondary training is available in this field. Computer support and repair specialists are seeing an increase in jobs due to increased use of computers and technology in everyday life.
To gain training in this field, candidates may consider certificate or degree programs in computer science, electronics, or computer technology. There are many specialty fields available within these main areas of study, so individuals can choose concentration areas based on their vocational goals. Some of the training involved in these programs will be very hands-on, and students may need to complete courses at on-site computer labs or through internships. Individuals who earn certificates or degrees in fields related to computer science may be prepared to enter jobs ranging from computer repair to IT support. Those who complete bachelor's degree programs or accrue work experience may advance to become computer systems administrators.
|Career Titles||Computer Repairer||IT Support Technician||Computer Systems Administrator|
|Education Requirements||High school diploma and some postsecondary training||High school diploma and some postsecondary training or an undergraduate degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||2%||12%||8%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$36,840||$51,470||$77,810|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Computer repairers fix, maintain and troubleshoot computers and computing systems, from personal home computers to office mainframes and web servers. These workers use technical knowledge and skill to troubleshoot systems. Professionals also install, configure, repair and replace computer systems and accessories.
Most employers prefer to hire computer repairers who have some postsecondary training, although applicants may not require certificates or degrees beyond high school diplomas to find employment. Job candidates will need to have a strong understanding of electronics and maintenance tools. On-the-job training for new hires is fairly common, since most organizations have company-specific tech that outsiders may not be familiar with using. Trade organizations and third-party vendors offer certification opportunities to computer repairers, although certification is voluntary.
IT Support Technician
Information technology (IT) support technicians, also known as computer support specialists, possess many of the same troubleshooting and diagnostic skills as computer repairers, but these professionals use their knowledge to help non-tech savvy users remedy problems on their own machines. IT support technicians give advice over the phone, via email, instant message, or in person. Support technicians may answer general computer problem questions or they may answer highly specific questions about particular software programs or hardware products. General knowledge IT support technicians tend to work for computer repair organizations or technology retail stores. Specialist IT support technicians often work for technology design companies.
Every employer has different education requirements for IT support technicians. Technicians who handle basic or general questions may only need a high school diploma and some knowledge of computers to find employment. Technicians who handle complicated questions usually need associate's degrees or higher to find employment. New hires receive on-site training about call-center protocols and customer service strategies.
Computer Systems Administrator
Computer systems administrators install and integrate operating systems. Administrators also troubleshoot network problems, monitor computer networks, check on hardware, and verify that software acts appropriately for all users. Prior to systems installation, administrators communicate with other organizational leaders to determine the technology needs and limitations of an organization. Once this information is determined, administrators make installation plans, oversee the installation process, and often set up training sessions to teach employees about using new technologies.
Individuals usually require bachelor's degrees to land computer systems administrator positions. Although computer science degrees are typical, administrators require a lot of knowledge in various computer specialties, including programming, database management, hardware, networking, and security. Students can choose to take additional courses or multiple concentrations to gain this broad field of knowledge. Industry experience in other related careers may also provide prospective candidates with enough training for this position. Although certification is voluntary, many computer system administrators hold several certifications within their industry, which reflects their field of knowledge and years of experience.
Career and Salary Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers are expected to see a 2% employment growth between the years 2014 and 2024. The BLS also estimated that computer user support specialists will have a predicted 12% job growth during the same decade, while network and computer systems administrators should experience job growth of 8%.
BLS salary statistics from 2015 showed that the median annual salary for computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers was $36,840. Records from that same year indicated that computer user support specialists earned a median salary of $51,470, and computer systems and network administrators earned $77,810.
Computer installation and repair professionals often only need a high school diploma, but some have a bachelor's degree or postsecondary training. These professionals work as information technology support specialists, computer systems administrators, or computer repair specialists. With an increased use in technology, these professionals are seeing significant job growth.