computer-technician

How to Become a Computer Technician

With technology advancing all the time, constant technical support is in needed, especially when people encounter a problem during their day-to-day use of their computing devices. As a consequence, the jobs provided by computer technicians are essential!

Indeed these specialists are found in the majority of the industries – ranging from retail electronic stores, to IT teams within both large and medium sized companies, to customer support agencies where they aide the customers. Apart from the previously mentioned, computer technicians can also be found in industries such as those of telecommunications, health care, finance, and education.

Due to this increasing need of support in the technical field, many companies offer services day and night. Hence many of these professionals end up working 24/7.

What is a Computer Technician?

Before putting up your mind on wanting to become a computer technician, either if you want to work on your own or in the corporate world, you should first have an in depth look as to what the job consists of. Working with individual computers and computer networks, some providing support electronically while others through the phone, the role of a computer technician is to fix problems, perform installation and take care of the maintenance related both to the computer hardware and the computer software.

Examples of such tasks are running diagnostic tests, replacing faulty components, scanning and removing viruses or potential threats, uninstalling and reinstalling programs, and also taking apart hardware.  What is more, they are responsible for setting up both locally connected and networked printers, and also ensuring the connectivity of computing devices to the local area network (LAN) and the wide area network (WAN).

Step 1 – Do you have what it takes to become a computer technician?

Are you a person with an inquisitive mind? Do you love to be challenged constantly? Do you have an aptitude for electronics and gadgets? Then you might be on the right track. But if you lack the virtue of patience, I’m sorry to have to admit that I don’t think that this job is fit for you. In order to thrive in your computer technician career, you need not rush to try to fix something, but take into consideration all the factors. In addition to these four vital qualities, you need to have a logical and rational approach when it comes to problem solving. If you have all these, I honestly believe that you’ll make a good computer technician!

Step 2 – Graduate from High School

If you want to become a computer technician, don’t you even consider dropping from high school! You first have to complete your education and obtain a high school diploma or a General Educational Development Certificate in order to be eligible for any postsecondary computer technician training course. Furthermore, some subjects covered in high school could broaden your horizon and prepare you for your career. For example, English and speech courses are essential for the development of communication skills.

Top 100 Computer Technician Schools in USA:

top-100-computer-technician-schools

We’ve used several points to establish ranking methodology of the Best Computer Schools in US.

  1. We used general information found on internet, which means we have researched general opinion regarding every ranked School.
  2. We have determined how many students per year have graduated from every school on our list. (The more student graduate every year the better study conditions school offers)
  3. The total number of doctoral science programs every school have. Better offer attracts more students.
  4. We have taken into count the location of every school/university. The better location of the school more likely will students apply for that school.
  5. Schools we’ve chosen have their score represented by golden stars (1 star minimum up to 5 stars maximum). This is based on surveying every academic in every school, their total number and their science success so far.

 

Rank School name Score

#

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

#1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Cambridge, MA

#1

Stanford University 

Stanford, CA

#1

University of California—Berkeley 

Berkeley, CA

#5 University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign 

Urbana, IL

#6

Cornell University 

Ithaca, NY

#6

University of Washington 

Seattle, WA

#8 Princeton University 

Princeton, NJ

#9

Georgia Institute of Technology 

Atlanta, GA

#9

University of Texas—Austin 

Austin, TX

#11

California Institute of Technology 

Pasadena, CA

#11

University of Wisconsin—Madison 

Madison, WI

#13

University of California—Los Angeles 

Los Angeles, CA

#13

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor 

Ann Arbor, MI

#15

Columbia University 

New York, NY

#15

University of California—San Diego 

La Jolla, CA

#15

University of Maryland—College Park 

College Park, MD

#18 Harvard University 

Cambridge, MA

#19

University of Pennsylvania 

Philadelphia, PA

#20

Brown University 

Providence, RI

#20

Purdue University—West Lafayette 

West Lafayette, IN

#20

Rice University 

Houston, TX

#20

University of Southern California 

Los Angeles, CA

#20

Yale University 

New Haven, CT

#25

Duke University 

Durham, NC

#25

University of Massachusetts—Amherst

Amherst, MA

#25

University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

#28

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

#29

New York University

New York, NY

#29

Pennsylvania State University—University Park

University Park, PA

#29

University of California—Irvine

Irvine, CA

#29

University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

#29

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

#34

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

#34

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

#34

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick

Piscataway, NJ

#34

University of California—Davis

Davis, CA

#34

University of California—Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA

#34

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

#40

Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH

#40

Stony Brook University—SUNY

Stony Brook, NY

#40

Texas A&M University—College Station

College Station, TX

#40

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ

#40

University of Colorado—Boulder

Boulder, CO

#40

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

#40

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, VA

#40

Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

#48

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ

#48

Boston University

Boston, MA

#48

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC

#48

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

#52

Indiana University—Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

#52

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, NY

#52

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

#52

University of Rochester

Rochester, NY

#56

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

#56

University of California—Riverside

Riverside, CA

#56

University of California—Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

#56

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

#60

Northeastern University

Boston, MA

#60

University of Illinois—Chicago

Chicago, IL

#60

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

#63

Iowa State University

Ames, IA

#63

University at Buffalo—SUNY

Buffalo, NY

#63

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

#63

University of Oregon

Eugene, OR

#67

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA

#67

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

#67

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY

#70

Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland, OH

#70

College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, VA

#70

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

#70

Naval Postgraduate School

Monterey, CA

#70

New York University

Brooklyn, NY

#70

Tufts University

Medford, MA

#70

University of Delaware

Newark, DE

#70

University of Maryland—Baltimore County

Baltimore, MD

#70

University of Nebraska—Lincoln

Lincoln, NE

#70

University of Tennessee—Knoxville

Knoxville, TN

#70

University of Texas—Dallas

Richardson, TX

#70

Washington State University

Pullman, WA

#82

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA

#82

Clemson University

Clemson, SC

#82

CUNY Graduate School and University Center

New York, NY

#82

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

#82

George Washington University

Washington, DC

#82

University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT

#82

University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS

#82

University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM

#90

Auburn University

Auburn, AL

#90

Brigham Young University

Provo, UT

#90

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

#90

Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS

#90

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Newark, NJ

#90

Oregon Health and Science University

Portland, OR

#90

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL

#90

University of Georgia

Athens, GA

#90

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY

#90

University of Texas—Arlington

Arlington, TX

#90

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, MA

#101

Colorado School of Mines

Golden, CO

 

Step 3 – Learn all you can about computers

Although it is true that you can enroll into some introductory courses on topics such as networks and operating systems, it is more efficient and you are due to learn more if you take the matters into your own hands! You can start by disassembling an old computer you may have at home, and by using online manuals, studying how it works in detail. When studying it, make sure you go through the most primary components. Indeed you need to formulate strong knowledge and understanding of the motherboard, CPU, RAM, Hard Drive, Video Card, Sound Card, and Network Card.

Nonetheless, the hardware by itself is not functional, it doesn’t do anything. This is why you also need to know all there is to know about computer operating systems. Moreover, you must have a good command of the latest versions, being proficient in an outdated operating system such as Windows XP is completely useless! Another common source of problems arises from installing and uninstalling device drivers.

You can familiarize yourself further with this area by troubleshooting problems on your device or on that of relatives or friends, the more the better. It is also highly recommended by experts that you learn how to build your own computer from scratch! There is no better way to master this trade…

Step 4 – Obtain an Associate’s Degree, preferably in the Computer Science’s or Information Science’s field

Develop your problem solving and logical thinking skills by enrolling in an associate’s degree program which lasts between two to four years, depending on the both the course and the institution. The degree level required by future employers is dependent on the position you wish to apply for.

These courses are offered by a wide variety of private technical academies, community colleges, and even online courses. Some of the topics that may be covered along the two to four year learning period are basic electronics, operating systems application software, computer peripherals, digital logic, networks (network administration and network security), architecture, and even programming.

Most courses do not only consist of theoretical learning, quite on the contrary! As a matter of fact, most of the institutions expect the students to attend the lab classes provided as part of the course in order to gain some experience in their area of study while learning to collaborate with their fellow students.

This valued learning process, also enables the prospective computer technicians to be able to tackle more complex and advanced issues, even involving network or computer system administration. Furthermore, this associate degree makes it possible for the newly graduated students to take up a career as a computer support specialist where they are responsible not only for setting up computer workstations but also handling troubleshooting related to either software or hardware problems.

Step 5 – Gain Real World Experience

Now that you are an associate’s degree graduate, you are now eligible for applying as a customer service representative whose role is to help customers learn about new and advancing hardware and software. This is an excellent way of receiving training and putting into practice all the theoretical knowledge obtained throughout the associate’s degree course.

As the Barbara Viola, president of the Association of Information Technology Professionals says, “Many people go from working on a help desk, helping people resolve computer issues over the phone, to more hands-on, face-to-face troubleshooting. Helping users fix a problem when they are going crazy is very rewarding work.” Moreover, the annual pay given is quite good considering that you are only a newly graduate and are on your way to a more rewarding career – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage is that of $30,580!

You may also gain real world experience by participating in online forums and chat groups, which is an excellent way to learn by watching other solve computer related problems and maybe even pitch in your own ideas!

Step 6 – Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Many employers would rather employ with them a bachelor’s degree graduate, rather than an associate’s degree graduate since the former will without any doubt have more experience and a greater understanding and knowledge in the computer and information area. Indeed, a bachelor’s degree can lead you to more challenging yet higher paying jobs! As a matter of fact, according to a statistics published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) back in 2014, the median annual wage of computer and information system managers with a bachelor’s degree is that of $136,280!  Hence I advise you not to stop at an associate’s degree but to go further and delve deeper!

During this level, the student gets to learn in depth about specific topics. For example, those graduating from computer science, will delve into study areas such as computer servicing, network design, server administration, security management, logic structures, along with advanced mathematics.

Meanwhile pursuing your studies, you can obtain hands-on experience and create connections within the computer industry by participating in an internship. Some of these may not pay you at all, however they are very relevant and important for your resume, distinguishing you from the other people applying for the same job as you! Indeed an internship will increase your chances in an interview, so I believe it is worth the little extra effort! As an expert in the computing industry once said, internships often lead the participant to full time jobs, while those who never took part in any end up having trouble in getting their first job! So what are you waiting for?

Step 7 – Obtain a Professional Certification

While it is not obligatory, it can help if you have a professional certification; either vendor-specific or vender-neutral.

A vender-specific certification shows that you are proficient in performing specific jobs. These tests are most usually offered by product vendors and software firms, such as Cisco and Microsoft.

On the other hand the A+ certification, which is a vendor-neutral certification, is the most common certification and may be a requirement by some employers when applying for a job. This certification is a proof of your understanding of computer systems, indicating that you are able of troubleshooting problems, install, configure, maintain, perform basic networking services, as well as that you are skilled and familiar with security, environmental issues, and also safety. Apart from the fact that the A+ test is quite cheap, it will serve you as an investment as it can be advantageous when getting a job as a computer technician.

Step 8 – Find Employment

After a very long and hard journey, you have now arrived at the desired destination… You can finally start looking for a job as a computer technician! Employment opportunities vary depending on the level of education that you have achieved, that’s why I advise going through with you education! Indeed, if you have a good education and at least two years’ experience in this field, you can advance to supervisory positions, such as an IT service manager!

The key for a successful job interview

In order to find a good job as a computer technician, you need to be successful in the job interview. What questions could be posed? Firstly, it is most probable that the interviewer asks you to tell him a bit about yourself. Even though it is important to mention your academic achievements, discuss some of your hands-on experience, you may even talk about troubleshooting you carried out on your computer or on that of friends or relatives. Make it a point that you tell him why you are choosing this job in the first place – ‘From a young age, I have been intrigued by problem solving and puzzles. Moreover I love being faced with a challenge that I can reason my way out of it by using pore logic! This is what motivated me to pursue a career as a computer technician!’ Now this kind of response will probably get you the job!

Other questions you may be asked are why you left your previous job, where you see yourself in a couple of years, what qualities you possess that you think will be useful and so on. The most important thing to remember during the interview is to be honest and keep both your feet on the ground… All you need to do is to think of why you are applying for this job in the first place.

What is the Annual Pay?

According to a recent research carried out by BLS, as a consequence to the constant advancing in technology, the job growth related to computer, ATM, and office machine technicians  is expected to rise by four percent, hence your chances in finding a job in this industry is in your favor! All you have to do is play your cards right and follow all the steps on how to become a computer technician. The median annual salary of jobs within the previously mentioned industry is that of $36,560.

On the other hand, you may also want to get a career as computer support specialist. A computer support specialist is a computer technician who provides support electronically or through the phone in order to help the clients resolve their issues about hardware or software. The average salary in this case is relatively higher, amounting to around $54,960 annually!

What if you do not want to work under the constant supervision of your employers? You do not necessarily have to work with a company! According to the United States Bureau Labor Statistics, around twenty percent of the computer technicians are self-employed! Why not consider setting up your own business and see how it goes from there?

Step 9 – Why stop now?

You’ve come a long way to be where you are now, so then why stop here? Why not keep giving your utmost effort to continue improving your career? Why not setting up higher goals? Surely, if you yielded your way up until now, regardless of the constant obstacles that you may have come face-to-face with, you have potential, and room for making your future a better one.

If you wish to further advance in your career, here are some success tips I invite you to follow and abide by:

  • Take part in training courses – The majority of the companies offer training classes on various topics, among them computer networking and computer systems. These extensive three months minimum on-the-job training are usually free of charge and open to all employees. Do not miss such a chance to broaden your knowledge, and maybe even advance in your field!

 

  • Stay up-to-date with the constantly advancing technology – Technology is advancing all the time. Old systems are being replaced by newer, better versions. If you do not stay current with the technology, then you will face a greater chance of being fired and replaced! Apart from this, if you decide yourself that you want to leave your job for some reason, your chance of finding a new job is diminished fairly, even though you have experience in the field! After all, who wants something or someone whose technological knowledge and understanding is outdated?

You may ask yourselves which career paths are possible for a computer technician. Well you will definitely not be disappointed. The career of a computer technician opens many doors and makes advancement in one’s profession very vast. As a matter of fact, from the job as a computer technician, one may advance to that as a Computer or Network Support Technician, a Support Technician, a Network Administrator, or a Computer Repair Technician. From the previously mentioned careers, one may further advance to any one of the following; IT manager, Systems/Computer/Network Administrator, Senior Systems Administrator, Systems Administrator, Network Engineer, and many more!

Sometimes, the role of a computer technician may be very challenging and may literally drain your mind; however it is very fulfilling to be able to troubleshoot an intricate issue and get the device operating as it should. Furthermore, what is more rewarding is seeing the gratitude of the people whose problem you just solved!

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