There are many online associate's degree programs that prepare students to work in PC maintenance, but only a few can be completed entirely online. Several more combine online and on-campus studies. In an online class, students work on assignments and view lessons as their schedules permit and interact with classmates and instructors through message boards, chat functions and e-mail.
These programs are offered under many names, such as engineering and computer technology or computer maintenance and networking, but they have the same basic curriculum. Students are usually required to take a few general education courses in the humanities, mathematics and English composition. Courses early in the program give them a fundamental knowledge of a PC and how it works. Later in the program, the students will take courses in networks, HTML coding, programming and database technology.
Graduates may qualify for entry-level jobs as PC technicians. They may wish to seek professional certification. Other graduates go on to earn bachelor's degrees in related fields.
Associate Degree in PC Maintenance Technology
Associate degree programs in PC maintenance technology prepare students for entry-level work as computer maintenance technicians, field technicians or installation engineers. These programs are often available through the computer and engineering technology departments at career and technical colleges. Programs can be found under many synonymous degree names, such as Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Engineering and Computer Technology or AAS in Computer Maintenance and Networking. In spite of the nominal differences, the programs contain the same core coursework.
Aspiring technicians train in all aspects of computer maintenance and repair, including courses in computer hardware and electrical circuitry. Programs also provide an introduction to programming and networking. Typically, the only program prerequisite is a high school diploma or equivalent; however, a rudimentary familiarity with basic computing and electronics is helpful in completing the programs.
Program Information and Requirements
Students seeking online associate degree programs related to computer maintenance can find a few programs that may be completed fully online. However, most programs are available in a hybrid format consisting both of on-campus and online classes. Full-time students can usually complete a computer maintenance associate degree program in about two years. Students taking online courses submit assignments and communicate with professors and their fellow students via e-mail and multimedia applications.
Usually, students must fulfill general education courses in communications, math, humanities and science in order to complete an associate degree. Examples of common computer maintenance core courses are described below.
Hardware Installation, Maintenance and Repair
In this class, students explore the terminology associated with computer hardware, including the parts and configurations of circuit boards, memory and drives. Students study the proper techniques for their service and maintenance, including methods of data protection and recovery. Additionally, students gain exposure to peripherals such as external storage devices and printers to learn the best practices for resolving conflicts between devices and their drivers.
Electronic Circuitry and Systems
Students learn the basics of electrical systems as they relate to computer hardware. Topics of study include AC circuits, DC circuits, integrated circuits, circuit boards and processors. Students also study appropriate uses of diodes and operational amplifiers in signal processing. Additionally, they train in the repair and maintenance of these systems.
Network Protocols, Installation and Servers
This class explores basic computer-to-computer communication concepts. Students learn about network design strategies as well as gain exposure in the latest networking technologies. Additionally, students learn standards and procedures for successfully implementing and maintaining local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN).
As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that computer, ATM and office machine repairers earned a median annual wage of $36,840 per year (www.bls.gov). The BLS anticipates the number of jobs in this field will increase by 2% from 2014-2024.
Entry-level computer maintenance technicians may find on-the-job training with a more experienced professional to be beneficial. Some employers provide additional technical training to entry-level employees. The BLS indicates that the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA) offers approximately 80 different certifications for computer and electronics professionals, all of which require specific combinations of experience and education.
Graduates wishing to further their education may opt to seek specialty certifications in computer technology or complete a bachelor's degree program in computer science.
Online associate's degree programs that cover PC maintenance technology provide students with a broad introduction to the essential aspects of information technology. Graduates may find entry-level jobs working with computer hardware and/or software, and they may also consider getting more advanced education in order to improve their future job opportunities.