Getting a job as a computer technician – what you need to know

Getting a job as a computer technician – what you need to know

Are you thinking about becoming a computer repair technician? Perhaps you have a natural love of computers and technology and a knack for fixing things. If you are the person that people call upon when they have a tech issue, you might have a future as a computer repair technician. In this article, we’re going to discuss the different kinds of technician jobs you could pursue, as well as the expected salaries and potential certifications needed to get the job.

Fixing computers is only part of the job of becoming a computer repair technician. In fact, there is a lot more that goes into building a successful career as a computer technician than fixing computers. You need to have the soft skills necessary for dealing with customers and fellow technicians. You need to have the drive and desire to constantly be learning new things. Most importantly, a natural problem-solving ability will help you figure out everything that needs to be done.

Once you have decided you want to become a computer technician, the next step is putting in the work and finding a job that you love. Computer repair is one of those jobs where it feels like you may never work a day again in your life–if you do it right and find a job that you love. Computer repair can be one of the only jobs that are low-stress and high-paying. This is not the case for the majority of jobs out there, so finding one that meets your lifestyle is crucial.

Figuring out what kind of computer technician you want to be

The first step to finding a job in the field of computer service is to decide what kind of computer technician do you want to be? There are many different areas of focus when it comes to technology, and not all are created equal. 

become a computer technician

Help-desk Technician

For starters, there are your basic “help-desk” technician roles. This is often seen as the most entry-level job when you are starting your career, although there can be opportunities for learning and advancement.

Help-desk technicians are responsible for providing technical support over the phone, or even in person at an actual help desk. Some employers will have you working as the in-house IT support for a larger company, and other employers will ask that you service a wide range of clients over the phone. 

No matter what, a help-desk job is going to mean that you are providing technical support on a daily basis, so you will inevitably build skills that will be valuable in your future career. One such skill that should not be overlooked is the ability to break down complex technical concepts into easy-to-understand terms. You will find yourself doing this often when dealing with trivial tech support issues.

Average starting salary: $24,000

According to ziprecruiter.com, the average starting salary for a help-desk technician is around $24k. Even though you can earn much more in other technician jobs, the help desk is often seen as an easy jumping-off point to get your career started.

Certifications needed: none.

The great thing about help-desk jobs is that they typically don’t have any certification requirements. As long as you graduated high school, it should be easy to find a help-desk job with minimal education.

Break/Fix IT Technician

Another type of technician is those who perform break/fix repair at shops that service your typical residential client. This job can also be known as “on-site repair” work. Your potential employers could be small mom-and-pop type shops specializing in residential repair, or large corporate operations such as “Geek Squad.” Some jobs will require you to repair computers on-site by going to a customer’s home, and some will simply require you to stay in the shop and fix whatever comes through the door.

In this kind of job, you will see a wide variety of customers, from the classic “Karen” who needs her computer fixed yesterday, and who also wants her money back, to the average run-of-the-mill “Joe” just wondering why his computer is so slow. 

In this type of environment, you’ll find that learning on the job is a daily occurrence. You’re going to have to keep up with tech news and the latest hardware so that you can speak intelligently to your customers. Nobody wants to do business with a technician who doesn’t know his stuff, so it is extremely important to keep up to date on your knowledge.

The great thing about working in a break/fix shop is that you will always get the opportunity to learn on the job. Whether that means disassembling the latest computer hardware, or just studying on your own when times are slow.

Average starting salary: $30,000

According to computercareers.org, the average starting salary for a computer technician in this field is just $30k. But don’t let that discourage you from pursuing a long-term career in this area, because top-earning computer technicians can make over $80k per year.

Certifications needed: none.

Although you don’t necessarily need any certifications to be successful as a “break/fix” technician, getting a few basic certifications can show potential employers that you know your stuff. One such certification is the COMP-TIA A+ certification. 

The A+ certification can be had by passing a two-part test, covering a wide range of hardware and software-related topics. The A+ will test your knowledge of operating systems such as Mac, Linux, and Windows, as well as networking and security basics. Once you get your A+ certification, you can go into your new job armed with the knowledge and expertise to get a great start.

Network Technician

Another route you could take in pursuing your dreams of becoming a computer technician is to specialize in networks. This field can be especially lucrative for knowledgeable technicians willing to put in the extra work required to get there.

Also known as a systems administrator, the network technician is responsible for overseeing the networks of businesses and organizations. Network technicians are also responsible for setting up wired and wireless networks including access points, switches, routers, and even running cabling. 

Network technicians work in business-to-business environments typically, so they will be dealing less with the general public, and more with corporate clients and fellow technicians. The role of the network technician might not be as laid back as the help-desk or break/fix technician, but the increase in responsibility comes with some nice perks.

Average starting salary: $42,000

The average salary for a network technician will vary depending on your location but typically will start out higher than a help-desk tech. Top earners in this field can make over $90k annually.

Certifications needed: at least Network+

Becoming a network technician or systems administrator without some form of certification may prove difficult. It is recommended that you at least pursue the COMP-TIA Network+ if you want to have a better chance of finding a job.

The Network+ certification can be had by passing a 90 questions test, covering a wide range of computer networking topics. The Network+ will test your knowledge of network fundamentals as well as advanced networking concepts. Once you pass the test, you will be armed with powerful knowledge to pursue your technician career.

What about starting your own computer repair business?

Another alternative to finding a technician job is starting your own computer repair business. By running your own business, you can decide what you want to work on and how much you want to charge. This extra freedom can mean more potential income and future prospects but also added stress since your livelihood depends on your actions. Running your own business takes time and effort and can be more complex than finding a job. It can be the most ideal route for those with determination and problem-solving capabilities.

You’ll need to familiarize yourself with all the tools of the trade. Once you become efficient with your repair kit, you’ll quickly fix the most common computer problems.

In the long run, owning your own repair business can prove to be an extremely lucrative investment. Furthermore, education and certifications may not matter at all.

Which one is right for you?

There are tons of designations like “remote-support-technician” or “desktop support analyst,” but it basically comes down to finding the job that will teach you the most and pay you the most. Once you find a job that allows you to learn and earn, you are on the fast track to accelerating your career. Starting your own computer repair business can give you the best prospects if you do it right, but with the added stress of managing your own business and finding clients.

Want to read more about starting your own computer repair business? Check out my free book here.

Tyler Von Harz

I am a computer and software nerd. I love working on new projects that involve taking something apart, troubleshooting, coding, writing, or developing. I started my journey down this path as a kid and opened my first computer repair shop at 18. I also own and operate a web development agency and a Youtube channel for coding.

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