Hardware Repair Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary

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Get the truth about a hardware repair technician's salary, skill requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a hardware repair technician.
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Pros and Cons of a Hardware Repair Technician Career

Hardware repair technicians repair physical equipment such as computer hardware, office machinery, laptops, automatic teller machines (ATMs) and desktop computers. Read on for some pros and cons of working as a hardware repair technician to see if it seems like the right fit for you.

Pros of Becoming a Hardware Repair Technician
Few, if any, higher education requirements*
Professional certifications available to document knowledge and expertise**
Various specialties to choose from (computer service, printer repair, network security devices)**
Can work independently (almost one-fourth of hardware repair technicians are self-employed)*

Cons of Becoming a Hardware Repair Technician
Slow job growth (projected employment increase of 2% between 2014 and 2024)*
Might require irregular hours (at night or on weekends) servicing machines in need of repair*
Often requires frequent local travel to perform on-site repairs*
Must stay up-to-date on changes in hardware technology**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **CompTIA.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Hardware repair technicians perform maintenance and repair on computers and other machines for both businesses and individual customers. In some cases, they might install equipment, as well. These technicians often specialize in certain equipment (even that of certain name brands) or kinds of repairs, and they use different tasks and tools, depending on whether they're servicing computers, ATMs or office machinery.

Frequently in repair cases, entire machines are not broken; rather, some component of them has malfunctioned or is in need of maintenance, which technicians repair or replace. Because transporting some machinery (such as ATMs or large office equipment) would be impractical, hardware repair technicians often travel to sites where machinery is in need of repair. Some technicians also work at repair shops where equipment in need of repair is brought to them.

Salary Info and Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2014, the middle half of computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers earned between $27,790 and $46,850 annually, with a median salary of approximately $36,000. The job growth for repair technicians is expected to be around 2%, which is below average for jobs in the U.S.

Job Skills and Requirements

Training Requirements

Though it's not always a necessity, it is common for hardware repair technicians to have an associate degree or certificate in electronics. After you're hired, some employers might require you to attend specialized classes in the kind of tools and machinery your particular job will deal with. Employers also often prefer professional certifications. In particular, the vendor-neutral A+ certification awarded by CompTIA is frequently recognized and desired.

Top Skills for Hardware Repair Technicians

Customer service skills are essential for repair technicians, since you'll frequently interact with customers to discern what needs to be fixed and might need to explain to them how to maintain or use certain equipment. Additionally, mechanical aptitude, the capacity to troubleshoot and manual coordination will all be necessary in your daily activities. If you work in computer repair, you'll need a basic knowledge of some software and operating systems, specifically, how they interact with and affect hardware.

What Employers Are Seeking

Since they often work off-site without immediate supervision, repair technicians must be comfortable working independently and might need their own transportation. In addition, employers may prefer candidates who are willing to work overtime or on a flexible schedule. Here are a few examples of real job postings that were open in April 2012:

  • A computer hardware firm in North Carolina sought a candidate with experience in both Windows and Macintosh operating systems to work on numerous devices. A+ or Dell certification was required, and an IT-related associate or bachelor's degree was preferred.
  • An Illinois-based office supply equipment company was looking for a repair technician to service office machinery, such as copiers, printers and fax machines. Travel was necessary, and no postsecondary education or experience was required.
  • A Kansas hardware company advertised for a candidate experienced in repairing printed circuit boards to work on laptop computers. Job duties included troubleshooting, soldering and inspecting the quality of circuit boards in need of repair. The position called for schedule flexibility, and A+ certification was preferred.
  • A computer hardware company in Georgia called for entry-level repair technicians who were familiar with computer operating systems and hardware. Flexible or long hours were required, as was access to transportation. A+ certification was a preferred qualification.
  • A Michigan-based hardware service company was seeking technicians to perform repairs with an emphasis on customer service and satisfaction. The position required periodic on-call status, and experience with various server platforms was a plus.

How to Maximize Your Skills

Though it's not required, an A+ certification can be a big advantage in your employment search since many employers prefer candidates with this certification. Other professional or advanced certifications can help build your resume as well. Additionally, acquiring an associate degree or professional certificate can help put you ahead of the competition. A number of trade schools and community colleges offer electronics, computer hardware repair or computer repair technician programs.

Even if you don't have a degree, having some college coursework completed can be attractive to employers. Taking classes from a community college in repair or electronics fields can increase your qualifications, as can completing classes in areas such as communications or information technology (IT), which encompasses skills relevant to hardware repair technicians.

Alternate Career Fields

Computer Support Specialist

If being a hardware repair technician doesn't seem like the perfect job for you, there are other options to consider. Computer support specialists deal with not only hardware but also software, systems and operational challenges faced by computer users. They often work directly with the public providing customer support and guiding computer users through troubleshooting and training protocols. The BLS projected an employment increase of 18% for computer support specialists between 2010 and 2020. Some employers might require you to have a bachelor's degree for this job, but other positions call only for an associate degree and specialized computer knowledge or experience.

Electrician

Electricians don't work with computers; instead, their job entails installing electrical systems in houses or buildings as well as performing maintenance or repair on wiring and equipment. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for electricians was around $49,000 in 2011. Rather than acquiring a degree, most electricians partake in an apprenticeship to learn their trade.

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