Computer Information Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about a computer information technician's job duties, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a computer information technician career.
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Pros and Cons of a Computer Information Technician Career

Computer information technicians, also known as computer support specialists, are professionals who provide technical support and assistance to computer users. Reading the pros and cons of being a computer information technician can help you decide if this is the right career for you.

Pros of Being a Computer Information Technician
Good wage (mean annual wage of about $47,000 as of May 2014 for computer support specialists)*
Advancement possible with training and experience*
An associate's degree or postsecondary courses may be sufficient for entry-level positions*
Work available in many industries (healthcare, IT, finance and telecommunications)*

Cons of Being a Computer Information Technician
May be required to work unconventional hours*
Work may require traveling to distant locations*
Must be comfortable communicating with others*
Certifications often required for employment**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Online job postings

Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Computer information technicians (CIT) provide technical support to individuals and organizations using computers and computer-related equipment. As a CIT, your role might be as a technical support specialist, where you'll provide help to employees working in an organization's information technology (IT) department. Your duties may include testing, analyzing and performing regular maintenance on the network system to ensure it's working correctly. Often working under computer systems administrators, you may troubleshoot Internet systems, local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs).

If you work as a help desk-technician, you listen to customers describe computer problems they're experiencing, asking them questions and offering suggestions. You might help computer users fix the problem themselves by walking them through the steps needed. Other technician duties may include setting up and repairing computers and computer hardware, training individuals on how to use computers and related equipment and offering technology suggestions to the organization. Computer information technicians may work for an organization or may work independently.

Job Prospects and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists were predicted to see an employment growth of 17% between 2012 and 2022. Job growth will be primarily in computer system upgrades. The BLS reported that computer information specialists earned a mean annual wage of around $47,000 as of May 2014. The computer systems design and related services industry employs many of these workers.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Training Requirements

To become a computer information technician, you typically need to complete formal training. Most employers prefer that their technicians have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a computer-related field, although some technicians are hired with an associate's degree and then receive on-the-job training. Many workers also complete on-the-job training after being hired. You might start work in an entry-level job and then work your way up as you gain hands-on experience. Training programs consist of coursework and hands-on training in computer labs. Course topics may include Cisco networking, PC troubleshooting, systems security, network fundamentals, wireless networking and computer concepts.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Although education and training requirements may vary by employer, all employers require knowledge of computer hardware and software systems and many prefer to hire CITs with related certifications. Here are a few real job postings to give you an idea of what employers were looking for in May 2012.

  • An Seattle industrial sales and marketing company is looking for an IT technical support specialist to create and manage user accounts, inspect and install PC software and hardware, maintain PC equipment inventory, perform upgrades and train users. An associate's degree in computer science with related work experience or a bachelor's degree is required. The employer seeks applicants with A+ and Microsoft or Dell certifications. Good communication and documentation skills, ability to multi-task and technical skills are required. Experience in SQL, SharePoint, VMware and Hyper-V is a plus.
  • A Missouri computer software engineering company is looking for an information systems specialist. Duties include installing and troubleshooting computer applications, setting up and maintaining technical hardware, training employees in hardware/software use and performing other tasks as required. Applicants must have bachelor's degrees or equivalent training and work experience. They must also possess knowledge of Windows OS, PC hardware, network technologies and database management.
  • An Ohio manufacturing company is seeking a computer support specialist. Applicants must have high school diplomas or equivalent, A+ certifications, knowledge of computer hardware and software, experience with MS Office products, good communication skills and at least one year of experience in computer-related work; helpdesk experience is preferred. Job duties include diagnosing and fixing computer problems, assisting the IT help desk with computer-related activities, installing and configuring operating systems and PC software, communicating with customers and supporting the network service in providing customer service.

Top Skills for Computer Information Technicians

In addition to requiring education and training, you also need to be able to work independently. Some skills important to this job include:

  • Good listening skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Writing skills

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

You can make your skills stand out by obtaining work experience and certifications. To become certified, you need to take certification exams. Some certifications you may want to consider include CompTIA certification, such as A+, Networking+, Security+. Cisco also offers various levels of certification for computer information technicians, such as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP).

Other Careers to Consider

If you're not sure that a career as a computer information technician is an ideal choice for you, there are other careers you may want to consider. Some may require less training, may offer higher wages or may have a higher predicted employment growth. Following are a couple similar careers you may wish to look into before making a final choice.

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers write computer software programs. Although many employers prefer programmers to have a bachelor's degree, you may also become a computer programmer with an associate's degree and experience. According to the BLS, employment of computer programmers was predicted to grow 12% between 2010 and 2020 - slightly less than computer support specialists. However, as of May 2011, computer programmers earned a mean annual wage of around $76,000, a wage substantially higher than that of computer support specialists.

Computer Systems Analyst

If you enjoy working with computers and are looking for a career with a faster-than-average employment growth, you may want to consider a computer systems analyst career. These professionals ensure a company's computer and information systems are running as efficiently as possible. They determine a company's computer needs and install and configure the computer hardware and software. According to the BLS, computer systems analysts were projected to experience an employment growth of 22% between 2010 and 2020. As of May 2011, computer systems analysts earned a mean wage of around $82,000. Although you may need at least a bachelor's degree for this career, some employers hire individuals with an associate's degree and related work experience.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
      • MS in Information Technology - Business Intelligence and Analytics
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • BSIT: Network Admin
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • BS in Health Information Management
    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Campus Locations:
    2. Lincoln Tech

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Technology and Skilled Trades
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Data Analytics
      • Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Data Analytics)
    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Instructional Technology
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cyber Security
      • BS in Business Admin. - Business Intelligence
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
      • PhD-TIM - Data Science
    Master's
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Cybersecurity
      • MSTIM - Data Science
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
      • MBA - Computer and Information Security
  • Campus Locations:
    5. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Computer Networking Technology
      • Computer Support Technician
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
      • Master - Information Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctorate: C.S. - Enterprise Information Systems
      • Doctor of Computer Science - Big Data Analytics (Executive Format)
      • Doctorate: Computer Science
      • Doctorate - Computer Science: Information Assurance (Executive Format)
      • Doctor of Management - Technology Management (Executive Format)
    Master's
      • M.S. - Management: IT and Project Management
      • M.S. - Information Technology
      • M.S. - Information Technology - Security Management
      • M.S. - Information Technology - Project Management
      • MS - Computer Science - Computer Systems Security
      • Master of Science in Computer Science
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - IT
      • BS - IT - Security
      • Bachelor: Information Technology
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Data Management
      • BS - Information Systems Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security - Computer Systems Security
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of IT: Project Management
      • Master of Science in Information Technology
      • Master of Information Technology - Information Assurance and Security
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Technology: Information Assurance and Security
      • Bachelor: IT - Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Certificate in Science, Technology, and International Security Studies
      • Certificate in Intelligence
      • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis and Genomics

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Lincoln Tech

  • Technology and Skilled Trades

What year did you graduate High School / Receive GED?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA with an Emphasis in Data Analytics
  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • MBA - Applied Computer Science
  • MSTIM - Computer Science

What is your highest level of education?

Brightwood College

  • Computer Networking Technology
  • Computer Support Technician

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
  • BS - Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctorate: C.S. - Enterprise Information Systems
  • M.S. - Management: IT and Project Management
  • BS - Business Administration - IT

Are you a US citizen?

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?