Becoming a Computer Installer: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
Computer installers made a median annual salary of about $36,560. Read on for job descriptions, salary information and training requirements to see if becoming a computer installer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Computer Installer

A computer installer tests, repairs, updates or installs equipment to ensure that it functions properly and conforms to all specifications. Here are some pros and cons for you to consider.

Pros of Being a Computer Installer
A high school diploma or a certificate may be accepted for entry-level jobs*
Some advancement opportunities available*
Ability to work for yourself or for a business**
Ability to work wherever computers are needed**

Cons of Being a Computer Installer
Slower than average job growth expected (4% for 2012-2022)*
Some workers worked outside normal business hours*
Workers may have to travel extensively*
Work experience is needed for best job prospects*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **ISEEK.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

A computer installer puts together workstations, monitors, printers and more for individuals or organizations. They may check network systems and travel to a client's location to install products like hard drives and other computer equipment.

Installers analyze computer issues and troubleshoot to determine repair or upgrade needs. A computer installer can be called upon to modify equipment to enhance performance or respond to customer requests.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

In May 2014, the BLS states that computer installers (along with automated teller and office machine repairers) made a median annual wage of about $36,000. The middle half of these workers made annual salaries ranging from around $27,000 to $46,000. The highest paid workers made about $58,000. The BLS projects that these same workers have an employment growth of 4% for 2012-2022.

Requirements for the Job

You can qualify for a position as a computer installer by having a high school diploma and technical knowledge of computers and electronics. You might want to take high school courses in computer science, math, computer applications and programming to prepare for work.

Some computer installers opt to go to a vocation school to learn about circuits, computers and various components. Vocational training can last anywhere from 2 months to 2 years. You can also earn a certificate or associate's degree for computer and repair technology, though college degrees aren't typically required for entry-level jobs.

Useful Skills

In order to be successful as a computer installer, you should have these following qualities or skills:

  • Like working with computers
  • Enjoy keeping up with technology
  • Like working with your hands
  • Good customer service
  • Good analytical and troubleshooting skills

Job Postings from Real Employers

Because computer installation can be a part of many information technology (IT) professionals' job duties, you might find a wide range of requirements. Many of these postings include computer technicians, which may require higher educational requirements. Here were some examples from CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com from April 2012:

  • A mining system in Arizona sought an installation technician with either an associate's degree or experience in electronic repair. They preferred applicants who could speak both English and Spanish, and the applicants needed to be familiar with Windows XP and LINUX.
  • A computer company in Washington needed a technician who could install computer products and perform troubleshooting. The employer preferred a technician with an A+ certification.
  • An organization in South Carolina asked for a computer technician who could install computers, printers, scanners and other computer equipment. The workers needed at least 1-3 years of experience and an associate's degree in computer science.
  • A corporation in Alaska required a technician who could install human machine interfaces (HMIs) and PC workstations. They would perform the necessary maintenance, repairs and upgrades to these systems. The applicants needed work experience in computers and networking and an associate's degree in computer science.

How Can I Stand out?

Since many of these workers only have a high school diploma and training, you can stand out by receiving an associate's or a bachelor's degree in the field of computer science. These postsecondary degrees can also help you advance in the work place and be put in charge of more complex tasks.

Certification can also help you in your job hunting. Computer installers may want to be certified from organizations like Microsoft or CompTIA, though the Electronics Technician Association International (ETA) also offers certifications for computer technicians.

Alternative Careers

Computer Support Specialists

While support specialists may have similar tasks to computer installers, they provide more comprehensive technical support to customers. For example, they may troubleshoot and analyze problems for networks and computer programs. These workers answer questions through emails, phone calls or help-desk consultations. They may also provide lower-level maintenance of computer systems.

These workers usually must have associate's or bachelor's degrees, but they made slightly better wages than computer installers. The BLS reports that in May 2011, support specialists made the median annual salary of about $48,000. The BLS also expected a better employment growth of 18% for these workers in the years 2010-2020.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

These workers have more managerial roles within IT departments, and they are in charge of server and network maintenance. They direct the efforts of support specialists, network architects and other employees to ensure safe and secure systems. Educational requirements vary for each employer, so a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in computer science can all be accepted for certain jobs.

In May 2011, the BLS stated that these workers earned a median annual salary of about $71,000. The BLS projects that administrators had a favorable employment growth of 28% for the years 2010-2020. However, long work hours and required overtime may offset these favorable statistics.

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