Does education matter when starting a computer store? The short answer: no. The long answer: Absolutely not, if we are speaking of formal education or vocational training. However, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of what you are getting into. There are numerous ways to learn how to go about solving any problem under the sun when one has access to the internet and you can learn as you go in most cases. Although it is unwise to experiment on a client’s equipment, you should definitely practice on whatever equipment you are able to acquire for yourself.
The most valuable asset for self-teaching computer repair is Google. Quite simply, one can look up the model of the computer you are working on and a couple of words to describe the issue you are attempting to fix, and most of the time a reliable result can be found easily. To break it down further, most of your tutorials and guidance will come from Youtube and iFixit.com. Anecdotal advice for more obscure problems is more commonly found on Microsoft or Apple support websites or forums such as Reddit. Over time, you will see the same problems coming up again and again in your business and will reach a point where you will no longer need to research the solution.
What about certifications?
The need for technical certifications when you are employing yourself in your own business is up for debate. The information that one needs to learn in order to pass a certification test is absolutely valuable and worth learning, however, the cost of taking the test may be too much for your pocket when first starting out. It can be handy to have a few certifications on your wall or on your desk to show to a prospective client who is not trusting of your skills or when dealing with a business client who wants to see third-party verification of your abilities. In my opinion, it is worth grabbing a few certifications once you are up and running but it might not be a good investment of your first few dollars.
The most basic of the technical certifications are offered by CompTIA. CompTIA is a company “focused on providing research, networking and partnering opportunities to its 19,000 members in 89 countries. In 1993, in response to the need for vendor-neutral, entry-level PC certification, the company created the A+ Certification”(Glen E Clarke, Ed Tetz, 2007). The study materials for the A+ exam are very much like the knowledge you will pick up in your first few months in the business if you were to learn as you go. The main focus of the material is the foundations of networking, troubleshooting, and security, obviously very valuable knowledge to have in your toolbox. According to the CompTIA website, the exam covers the following:
- Demonstrate baseline security skills for IT support professionals
- Configure device operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Android and iOS and administer client-based as well as cloud-based (SaaS) software
- Troubleshoot and problem solve core service and support challenges while applying best practices for documentation, change management, and scripting
- Support basic IT infrastructure and networking
- Configure and support PC, mobile and IoT device hardware
- Implement basic data backup and recovery methods and apply data storage and management best practices
Other certifications from CompTIA that could provide you with potentially valuable expertise are the Security+ and the Network+, both of which demand a more developed knowledge of security and networking respectively. Both of these certifications will come easily to someone who has been in the business a couple of years, but may not be worth acquiring too early on in your career. In my experience, learning as you go provides a more solid foundation of knowledge than attempting to learn from books and lectures before diving into the business.
Arguably more important than expertise is enthusiasm and the willingness to learn. When running a computer repair store, you will find yourself heavily invested, not so much with money but with your time and mental capacity. You will have some kind of challenge on your plate every day, and you want to make sure you are in a position where it seems less like work and more like getting to tinker on your own projects all the time. If you have the enthusiasm and the love of not only technology but solving problems with computers and people, you will find you never have to work a day. There will be fun problems, such as building gaming pcs or taking apart some computer you have never seen before and figuring it out piece by piece, and there will be mundane problems such as helping someone set up their accounting software. Both of these types of problems have their merits and provide opportunities to learn something new.
Equally as important as your enthusiasm is the patience you must possess. You may encounter clients who are difficult to deal with or computers that are difficult to troubleshoot in ways you could never have imagined, and it is in these times that you must have the patience to slowly and calmly work towards a solution. Without patience and enthusiasm, your work will turn into a stressful job and you won’t enjoy it for long.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my new book coming soon!
This was an excerpt from my new book, out now. Check it out on Amazon!