Becoming a PC Maintenance Technician: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about a PC maintenance technician's salary, training requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a PC maintenance technician.
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Pros and Cons of a PC Maintenance Technician Career

You can expect to perform a wide range of duties as a PC maintenance technician, from repairing network systems to installing new hardware and software. Check out the pros and cons to learn more about becoming a PC maintenance technician.

Pros of Becoming a PC Maintenance Technician
Good salary relative to education requirements (median salary of about $41,000 for PC maintenance techs and $54,000 for computer repairers)**
Option to focus on customer assistance or hands-on computer repair*
Flexibility in job location (maintenance technicians are needed all over the nation)*
Can work in many industries (healthcare, education, business)*

Cons of Becoming a PC Maintenance Technician
Long hours may include nights and weekends*
Extended time in front of computers can lead to eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome*
May have to work quickly to meet time constraints*
Patience may be required when discussing computer problems with customers and clients***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com, ***O*NET OnLine.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

PC maintenance technicians make sure that computer systems, local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) are operating properly. Other tasks may include installing, upgrading and repairing computers. If you want to work in computer support, be prepared for regular phone contact with clients and customers.

Because computer support is so essential for many businesses, you may have to be available 24 hours a day. You could find work in any number of industries, such as education, healthcare or finance. Beyond keeping up with the latest computing hardware and software developments, you also need to be aware of regulations and other requirements that pertain to a particular industry. For example, if you work as a PC technician in the healthcare field, you may deal with private information that must be kept confidential.

Salary and Career Outlook

The outlook for PC maintenance technicians varies by specialty. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that computer repairers were projected to see an employment increase of 4% from 2012-2022, which was slower than the average for all occupations. The BLS found that computer support specialists should have much better job growth, with an expected increase of 17% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS reported that job growth would be particularly strong in the healthcare industry.

According to Salary.com, the median salary for PC maintenance technicians was approximately $41,000 as of 2015. Salary.com also found that computer repair workers earned a median annual income of about $54,000 as of 2015.

Training Requirements

Computer support technicians do not have a hard education requirement. Some companies may prefer applicants who have an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree for technical positions, but help-desk jobs are often filled with candidates who do not have any postsecondary education. Depending on the company you work for, you may need experience working with specific applications or hardware systems. Most employers prefer to hire technicians who hold CompTIA's A+ credential.

Computer repair technicians need at least a high school diploma. Some repairers may have a certificate or bachelor's degree, but the requirements vary between employers. On-the-job training is another possibility; if you do not have extensive knowledge of computer troubleshooting, you may be able to start by fixing basic issues and move to complex problems as you learn more.

Top Skills for PC Technicians

If you want to pursue a career as a PC technician, you should possess solid problem-solving skills. You'll be working with various groups of people in your daily work, and you'll come across some who do not have much knowledge of computers. Patience and good listening skills will be particularly important in dealing with such circumstances. You need to be able to understand technical writing and have the ability to explain those concepts to a general user. The best PC technicians have skills in logic and reasoning, which are used to diagnose problems that are not obvious.

What Are Employers Looking For?

Responsibilities of PC technicians and computer support specialists vary by employer and professional setting. These job posts from March 2012 can help shed some light on what employers are looking for:

  • A staffing firm in New Mexico is looking for a PC technician to install, troubleshoot and repair computers and Microsoft operating systems. Candidates must have an associate's degree and an understanding of LANs.
  • An IT services company in Arizona seeks a PC technician to install, upgrade, relocate and repair desktop and laptop machines. A+ certification is a requirement of this job, and the ideal candidate will have certifications in Microsoft products.
  • An IT solutions firm in Connecticut needs a PC technician to monitor daily call activity and resolve technical problems with hardware, software and Internet connectivity. A+ certification is listed as a requirement for this position.

Standing Out in the Field

You'll want to stay up to date with emerging technologies and software applications to make yourself an attractive candidate in the IT job market. While A+ certification is definitely a useful credential and a good way to validate your knowledge and skills, it is just one of many certifications that could help you. Product-specific credentials, offered by companies such as Microsoft and Cisco, can be helpful for prospective PC technicians. CompTIA also offers useful certifications beyond the A+ certification, including Security+ and Network+. The best certifications for you often depend on what your job entails. For example, a certification in network security may be better suited for someone who works on LANs, rather than someone who diagnoses hardware failures.

Gaining postsecondary education can also give your career a boost. Not only can a bachelor's degree help you stay up to date with changes in computer technology, but it could help you pursue advancement opportunities. Many computer support workers can advance to other IT positions in network administration, computer support management or software development.

Alternative Career Options

Computer and Network Administrator

If you're looking for a similar career that pays a bit more, you might be interested in becoming a computer or network administrator. These professionals figure out what computer systems an organization needs and then install those systems. You could end up working with LANs, WANs and a variety of other communication tools. You'd also be working with many professionals from other fields, so excellent communication skills are a plus. The BLS reported that computer and network administrators earned a median salary of about $71,000 in 2011. However, the increased salary does come with a downfall; most computer and network administrators need to have a bachelor's degree, which means you'd need to spend additional time and money to pursue this career option. The BLS reported that computer and network administrators would have excellent job prospects, with a predicted employment increase of 28% from 2010-2020.

Electronics Installer and Repairer

If a PC technician career doesn't offer enough variety and you're looking for a career that focuses on troubleshooting and repairing, you might want to check out electronics installation and repair. You could be tasked with repairing electric motors, mobile communications equipment or circuit boards. You only need a high school diploma for most jobs, but obtaining an associate's degree or a professional certification could be useful for this line of work. Your income could vary, depending on which equipment types you work on. The BLS found that the median annual income for all electrical and electronics installers and repairers was roughly $49,000 in 2011. Although education requirements are fairly minimal, job opportunities were only expected to increase by three percent between 2010 and 2020, which was much slower than the average of all occupations.

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