Computer Systems Technician
Also referred to as computer support specialists, these technicians oversee the operations for an organization's computer network, operating systems, hardware and software. Technicians monitor system performance and troubleshoot errors as quickly as possible to provide clients with consistent access and service. Advanced positions may be found in administration. In order to offer support around the clock, some techs are scheduled during nights and weekends.
The degree for computer systems technicians varies, but post-secondary education is typically required. Fields of study that you might see include computer-related fields such as computer science or network technology. The work experience varies, but at least 1-2 years of experience may be required. Certification may be preferred by employers.
Key skills among computer systems technicians include communication, multi-tasking, analytical, problem-solving, time management and writing skills. You also need proficiency in related tools and technologies.
In 2015, the median annual salary for computer support specialists was $51,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Now let's check out the steps that you can take to get into this career.
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Getting Into this Career
Step 1: Complete Post-Secondary Education
Certificate and associate's degree programs offered by community colleges and vocational institutes train students to become computer systems technicians. These programs begin with basic courses like operating systems, administration and hardware to introduce students to computer systems. Students then advance to more complex concepts, such as networking and routing technology. Most programs allow students to choose elective courses, which may range from creating web pages to wireless Local Area Network (LAN) technology.
Step 2: Obtain Vendor Credentials
Computer systems technicians may consider attaining certifications offered by software and hardware vendors, such as Microsoft and Cisco. These certifications can help employers ensure that a job applicant is able to manage computer systems and troubleshoot operational issues. Both companies offer various levels of credentials, such as the Microsoft Certified Solution Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE) or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). Obtaining these credentials typically requires passing an exam.
Step 3: Gain Work Experience
Employers typically look for applicants who have one or more years of work experience in a computer support capacity. For example, employers may favor technicians who have set up networks, installed software or debugged operating systems. Additionally, candidates who have experience answering technical questions or guiding users through troubleshooting processes may have an added edge during an interview.
Step 4: Consider Pursuing a Bachelor's Degree to Advance Your Career
Although some positions require experience and an associate's degree or professional certification, other computer systems careers require a bachelor's degree. Pursuing a 4-year degree in a related discipline may offer better employment prospects such as network administrators or software developers. Take advantage of any internal training and advancement programs your company may offer after you've been hired to move up within the company.
With the right post-secondary education, experience, and possibly vendor certification, computer support specialists can earn about $51,000 a year to oversee the operations for an organization's computer network, operating systems, hardware, and software.