Become a Microcomputer Technician: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a microcomputer technician. Research the education, training information and experience required for starting a career as a microcomputer technician.

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Microcomputer Technician

Microcomputer technicians, sometimes called help desk technicians or computer user support specialists, help computer users fix problems in computer hardware equipment or software programs, install computer and network equipment and train individuals on how to use certain computer programs. They might also set up and repair computer equipment, such as printers or modems. Many times, these workers are part of a company's information technology team. Since their services are often offered around the clock, many of these technicians must work nights and weekends. Patience is often required when dealing with customers who have very limited computer knowledge.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Some college, but no degree required; associate's or bachelor's common
Degree Field Computer science, engineering, information science, or a related field
Licensure/Certification None required; voluntary certifications available
Experience None; 1-5 years of work experience sometimes preferred
Key Skills Knowledge of archival, configuration management and desktop communications software, databases, and operating systems; able to use computer tool kits, hard disk arrays, and network analyzers
Salary $48,620 yearly (2015 median for all computer user support specialists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online, Job postings

Getting into this career typically requires some college, but no degree is required. Associate's or bachelor's degrees are common in the field. Fields of study include computer science, engineering, information science or a related field. Additionally, voluntary certification is available. No experience is typically required, but some employers may seek candidates with 1-5 years of work experience. Key skills for this career include knowledge of archival, configuration management software and desktop communications software programs, databases and operating systems, and the ability to use computer tool kits, hard disk arrays and network analyzers. In 2015, the median annual salary for computer user support specialists was $48,620, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now let's check out the steps to getting into this career.

Steps to Getting Into This Career

Step 1: Complete a Certificate Program

Entry-level microcomputer technician programs often require at least some post-high school training or completion of a certificate program. Certificate programs are available as Microcomputer Technician IT Essentials, A+ Microcomputer Technician or as a Microcomputer Support Technician program. Courses in these programs cover topics like microcomputer theory and servicing, Linux fundamentals, networking essentials, PC troubleshooting and Windows Client OS. The length of these programs vary, and may take between 16-32 credit hours to complete.

To really get the most out of your program, take part in an internship. Aspiring microcomputer technicians may improve their chances for finding employment after graduation by taking part in internship programs. Typical tasks for an intern may include installing hardware and software, troubleshooting PC networks and identifying and correcting server problems.

Step 2: Begin Working in the Field

Individuals who have completed some college-level coursework, meaning a certificate program, can begin working as help desk technicians after graduation. These workers identify and troubleshoot problems, configure new or existing software programs and perform daily maintenance on computer systems.

Consider earning certification. Being certified may increase employment opportunities or make an individual eligible to advance in their career. The Computing Technology Industry Association (Comp TIA) and industry providers, such as Microsoft, offer credentials to microcomputer technicians. Earning these credentials often requires passing an exam.

Additionally, enroll in continuing education courses. Microcomputer technicians may find it helpful to update their knowledge and skills regularly in order to keep up with the latest software programs and hardware equipment. Professional certification organizations usually offer continuing education courses, seminars or conferences for this purpose.

Step 3: Consider Earning a Degree

Although not required to work in the field, some employers prefer candidates who have an associate's or bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. In addition, earning a degree can qualify graduates for higher-level positions, like those of computer or network systems administrators.

In an associate's degree program, which typically takes two years to complete, students learn about microcomputer applications, Web and programming concepts, network cabling and fiber optics. Bachelor's degree programs in computer science often require four years of study. Classes in these programs cover topics like computer networks, databases, computer architecture and systems programming.

To recap, with the completion of some post-secondary education, experience and possibly certification, microcomputer technicians can earn about $49,000 a year to help computer users fix problems in computer hardware equipment or software programs, install computer and network equipment and train individuals how to use certain computer programs.

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