Computer Maintenance Tech Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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Learn about computer maintenance technician duties, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a computer maintenance technician career.
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Pros and Cons of a Computer Maintenance Technician Career

Computer maintenance technicians make installations, repairs and adjustments to computer hardware and software. Continue reading the pros and cons to determine if this is the right career for you.

Pros of a Computer Maintenance Technician Career
Possible to enter field with a high school education*
Choice of self-employment or working with private businesses*
Pleasant work environments*
Advancing technologies keep computer work in demand*

Cons of a Computer Maintenance Technician Career
Low job-growth field (about four percent between 2012 and 2022)*
May spend long hours sitting at a computer*
May be required to work holidays*
Some positions may require travel between client locations*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

A computer maintenance technician installs software programs and adjusts computer settings in order to fix machine malfunctions or maximize efficiency. Technicians assemble machines according to specifications by using hand or power tools and measuring devices. They communicate with customers concerning equipment operation, maintenance and programming. Computer maintenance technicians also maintain records of maintenance work and equipment repairs.

Career Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, positions in this field are expected to grow more slowly than average at four percent between 2012 and 2022. However, the BLS also indicates that computer repairers will continue to be in demand due to new technologies, preventative measures and computer upgrades. As of May 2014, the BLS estimated that workers in this field earned a median salary of $36,560.

Career Skills and Requirements

Computer maintenance technicians possess a working knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment and computer hardware. You may also need some skills using various types of computer software, applications and programming codes. Although you can find some positions available for high school graduates, you may find that many employers prefer an associate's degree education from a program related to computer science.

Useful Skills

To be successful in this field, you may need to have a customer service background and working knowledge of computer troubleshooting techniques. Customer service skills can include knowing how to answer questions posed by clients and find out the source of a problem by asking questions. You may also want to be able to preemptively recognize unacknowledged issues and solve installation problems. The following general traits are preferred by employers:

  • Ability to work well with others and communicate concepts clearly
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work alone or with a team
  • Attention to detail and positive attitude

Job Postings from Real Employers

Job openings can be found with most companies that have an established computer and network system. If you don't want to work for private repair shops, you may find opportunities working exclusively with companies that require constant computer maintenance. You may also find that some employers allow you to substitute related experience for formal education. The following examples were gathered from a national job board sampling in April 2012:

  • A real-estate company in South Carolina was looking for a technician to upgrade computer operating systems and network infrastructures.
  • An Indiana staffing company was looking for someone able to repair malfunctioning computer fans and assist with establishing e-mail accounts.
  • A consultation firm in New Jersey was looking for someone knowledgeable in data transfer and smart phone setup.
  • A technology company in Minneapolis was looking for a technician able to properly clean and reconfigure personal computers.
  • A computer hardware company in Chicago was looking for someone able to communicate with related vendors and work with anti-virus software services.

How to Make Your Skills Stand out

Although many employers require you to have an associate's degree education or related experience, you may be able to increase your employment chances by completing a bachelor's degree in computer science. Beyond learning about hardware aspects, you will develop additional skills working with data structures, computer security concepts, network development tools, communications systems, information systems and server programming. If you are interested in developing skills through hands-on activities, some schools offer practicums and team-based capstone courses.

Get Certified

There are many types of voluntary certifications offered for professionals in this field. For example, Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA) offers over 80 types of certification programs in various related fields. As a computer maintenance technician, you may be most interested in the Certified Computer Service Technician (CST) designation. To earn this certification, you need to pass an exam covering topics that include computer assembly, computer memory and processing components, peripheral devices, storage devices, power supplies, networking and troubleshooting procedures. If you would like to maintain your certification, you need to complete ten continuing education hours every year.

Alternative Career Paths

Electrician

If you aren't computer savvy, but would still like to work with electrical components, you may be interested in a career as an electrician. In this field, you may be in charge of testing electrical devices for potential problems, installing wiring systems, replacing electrical fixtures, following electrical blueprints, using power tools and adhering to regulatory code. Most employers require you to complete a professional apprenticeship that can last up to four years. Depending on your state of employment, you may also be required to earn licensure. According to the BLS in May 2011, electricians earned a median salary of $49,000.

Home Entertainment Equipment Installer

As a home entertainment equipment installer or repairer, you will be expected to prepare televisions and speakers for use, replace defective parts, train clients how to properly use equipment, tune devices to optimal settings, decipher product manuals and troubleshoot possible issues. Depending on your employer, you may be required to provide on-site repairs. Although some employers may offer on-the-job training, completing formal education from an electronics repair program may increase your chances for employment. As of May 2011, the BLS estimated that workers in this field earned a median salary of $34,000.

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Lincoln Tech

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Penn Foster

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  • Career Diploma - PC Maintenance and Repair

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Virginia College

  • Diploma Program - Electrical Technician

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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Brightwood College

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What is your highest level of education?

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