For those interested in pursuing a career as a computer maintenance technician, earning a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is a good first step. It is also recommended that you earn an A+ certification, which demonstrates to employers that a technician is qualified to handle networking, security and troubleshooting issues.
Computer maintenance technicians, also known as computer support specialists, assist individuals and organizations with systems operation, computer errors and other technical support issues. Most jobs require a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Employers also prefer candidates who have been A+ certified through CompTIA.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in computer science or related field|
|Additional Recommendations||CompTIA A+ certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||12% for all computer support specialists|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*|| $48,620 for computer user support specialists
$62,250 for computer network support specialists
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Computer maintenance technicians oversee daily computer performance, provide technical support and install new software for computer users. Daily duties may include fielding inquiries, running diagnostic tests to resolve issues and installing updates to existing software. Additionally, technicians may be responsible for setting up new equipment, performing minor repair work and keeping records of service. Technicians may also create manuals and train others on hardware and software.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for computer support specialists are estimated to increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). High growth is expected in the healthcare industry, and overall, candidates who hold bachelor's degrees are projected to see the most favorable prospects.
For purposes of analyzing salary data, the BLS divides computer support specialists into the categories of user support specialists and network support specialists. In May of 2015, user support specialists earned a median wage of $48,620 per year, while network support specialists saw median yearly salaries of $62,250. Career paths include office or department manager, computer programmer, software engineer, network specialist or Web designer.
Education requirements for computer maintenance technicians vary substantially based on employer and job position. Some employers may only require work experience coupled with an industry certificate or certification. Certificate programs require the completion of a designated group of courses, such as networking, electronics, operation systems and troubleshooting. These programs may take up to two years to complete and prepare students for entry-level positions as technicians. Students may also use courses to prep for industry certification.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) designates an A+ certification to technicians who successfully complete two exams based on technical understanding and practical application (www.comptia.org). The A+ certification qualifies technicians as having fundamental, functional knowledge of networking, maintenance, security and troubleshooting. CompTIA also offers advanced certifications in these areas. Additional vendor-sponsored certifications may give applicants a further edge.
According to the BLS, some employers may favor applicants with a computer related associate's or bachelor's degree. Courses in software architecture and operating systems coupled with project management classes may help prepare students with the necessary technical and interpersonal skills for the workplace. Once hired, most new employees receive supplemental on-the-job training. Employees looking for promotion may consider advanced systems certification programs, continuing education or enrollment in a M.S. program.
Computer maintenance technicians can perform a number of duties on a given day, such as installing and updating software, resolving issues through diagnostic testing, and providing general technical support. Sometimes they may also be required to set up new equipment or handle minor repairs on existing hardware and equipment.