Computer Technologist: Employment & Career Info

Computer technologists, sometimes referred to as 'computer techs,' are the hands-on specialist we rely upon to install and maintain our hardware and software, as well as resolve our everyday computer-related dilemmas. Read on for more information about career options, training requirements, employment prospects and earnings potential for computer techs.

Career Definition for a Computer Technologist

As experts in their field, computer technologists have many career options open to them. For example, they may work as a systems administrator or at the help-desk of a computer retail store, in a testing laboratory or a service department. Wherever they work, the responsibilities of computer technologists typically include installing, servicing, testing, repairing and maintaining computer systems. In some cases, assisting customers with the purchase and installation of their new computer is the first priority of a computer technologist.

Education Degrees available at community colleges and universities
Job Skills Math skills, troubleshooting, problem solving, customer service
Median Salary (2015) $51,470 for computer support specialists
Job Growth (2014-2024) 12% for computer support specialists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

While it isn't always necessary to have a college degree to secure employment in computer technology, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that many of today's employers prefer to hire applicants with formal training. Many community colleges and universities offer degrees in computer science or technology, so it's important to clarify your career goals and choose the program that supports those objectives. The best programs also help you prepare for the professional certification examinations which may be needed to work with specific brands of technology.

Skills Required

Those planning a career in computer technology should possess strong math skills and enjoy troubleshooting and problem solving. Because the responsibilities of a computer technologist often include customer service, good people skills are invaluable. Also, strong writing skills may be needed to prepare written directions or manuals for customers or company employees.

Employment and Earnings Outlook

The BLS projects that computer support specialists will see a 12% growth in employment nationwide between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that computer user support specialists had a median income of $51,470 per year.

Alternate Career Options

Below are some other career paths to follow in computer support and administration:

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects analyze and develop small- and large-area data communications systems, such as those found in homes or cities. Undergraduates can begin planning for a career by pursuing majors in computer science, information technology (IT) or a relevant engineering science. According to the BLS, this is a field growing faster than average, with a 9% increase in jobs nationwide expected between 2014 and 2024. Median salaries for computer networks are relatively high, with those employed in May 2015 earning $100,240 per year.

Database Administrators

Database administrators assess client needs and use computer software to develop accessible and secure collections of customer-related, financial or other types of information. They may specialize in application or system database administration. From 2014-2024, employment opportunities for database administrators are expected to grow by a faster than average rate of 11%, as reported by the BLS. As of May 2015, database administrators were paid median annual salaries of $81,710.

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