Computer Repair Tech Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
A computer repair tech's mean annual salary is around $38,000. Is it worth the training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a computer repair tech is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Computer Repair Tech

A computer repair technician follows design or installation specifications to install and repair software, hardware, or peripheral equipment. Review the pros and cons to decide if becoming a computer repair tech is right for you.

PROS of a Computer Repair Tech Career
Most workers work full time*
Comfortable work environment*
Flexibility to work inside or outside an office*
Vocational training can be sufficient for employment*
Can work anywhere computers need maintained (homes, schools, offices, electronics stores)*
Variety in daily repair tasks*

CONS of a Computer Repair Tech Career
Slower than average job growth (four percent from 2012-2022 for all computer, ATM, and office machine repairers)*
Low average salary ($38,000 in 2014 for all computer, ATM, and office machine repairers)
Frequent traveling for field technicians*
Can require around-the-clock working hours*
Some work long hours*
Lifting and moving heavy equipment can be physically demanding*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Computer repair technicians resolve problems and provide technical assistance by reading technical manuals, conferring with users or conducting computer diagnostics. They can be called to oversee the daily performance of computer systems to prevent them from malfunction and to maintain maximum system efficiency. When new or upgraded systems are introduced, computer repair technicians set up equipment for use, making sure of the proper installation of cables, operating systems, and appropriate software. Job tasks vary daily and may also include fixing printers, setting up small networks, or configuring VoIP phone systems.

Because computer problems can occur at any time of the day, computer repair techs may work long hours around-the-clock, as well as on weekends and holidays. There's also the possibility of being on call. While some technicians do repairs at an office, others frequently travel to homes or businesses to perform repairs onsite. You'll need to be physically strong enough to lift heavy computer systems or transport hardware from your employer to the work site.

Career Prospects and Salary Info

Due to improved reliability and decreasing computer equipment costs, the BLS projects slower than average job growth, at four percent for computer repair tech jobs from 2012-2022. For the positions that are available, those with formal training in electronics and related work experience will experience the best job prospects. Job opportunities are spread throughout the country, with the highest concentration of jobs being in the eastern portion of the U.S.

According to the BLS, the median wage of computer repair technicians was $37,000 as of 2014. The highest wages were found commercial and service industry machinery manufacturing, at a mean wage of $56,000. Earnings are highest in states on the East Coast, specifically in the northeastern states where the mean wage can reach $40,000-$48,000.

What Are the Requirements?

According to the BLS, a degree is not a requirement for all jobs, but employers often require an associate degree in electronics or computers, technical certifications or previous work experience fixing computers. To succeed on the job, you'll need to know how to install and repair computer hardware, software and peripherals. Employers may also offer on-the-job training to teach you to prepare specific equipment. In addition to any training requirements, skills you'll need include:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Ability to work in a team and alone
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Customer service skills

What Employers Are Looking for

While some employers look for college degrees, certifications in computer repair or in specific laptop brands are commonly preferred or required credentials. Employers also look for experience repairing printers, VoIP telephones and laptops, as well as proficiency in productivity applications. Each employer looks for different credentials, skills and experience for repair techs. Here is a list of example job postings from March 2012:

  • A California staffing company is looking for a computer repair technician with experience using Excel, a certificate of completion related to computer repair, and data collection skills. Two years of experience doing computer repair is required, and an associate degree is preferred.
  • An electronics repair company in California advertised for a laptop repair technician with two to three years of experience, proficiency in Microsoft applications, and strong communication skills. In addition to the CompTIA A+ credential, certification in specific laptop brands is preferred.
  • An outsourcing provider in New York seeks a desktop computer technician with five years of experience and either the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) credential or the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) credential. The candidate should have experience with printer drivers, VoIP phones, and computer installation.
  • A staffing services firm in Kentucky advertised for a computer repair technician with CompTIA A+ certification and a high school diploma. Applicants should have experience with laptop repair, soldering, and data entry.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Because employers often prefer those with formal training, you can stand out by completing a certificate program or earning an associate degree related to computer repair. Some community colleges offer one-year programs that provide an introduction to computer hardware, software, operating systems, programming, and web design. There are also associate degree programs in computer electronics technology that can prepare you for various roles in computer and network support. Work experience is also a factor employers consider, so you could try volunteering or obtaining an internship to get work experience repairing computer hardware and software.

Get Certified

Whether you have a degree or not, earning technical support certifications can help you get an edge over candidates who don't possess the credentials, as well as help you specialize. A common entry-level credential for PC techs is the CompTIA A+ certification, which certifies that you understand the basics of computer hardware, networking, and operating systems, and that you can apply your knowledge to practical problems. Microsoft offers numerous certifications, including the Microsoft Certified IT Professional, as well as those related to Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Some employers look for certifications that certify your knowledge in a brand's products. Dell offers certifications for technicians who want to support its desktops, laptops and servers, and Apple offers Apple Certified Macintosh Technician (ACMT) certification for individuals who want to support Mac hardware and Mac OS X. Toshiba and Sony also offer certifications for supporting their products.

Alternative Career Paths

If you want to provide support for computers and software, but you dislike the decrease in job growth for computer repair techs, you have other options that involve similar skills. One option is becoming a computer support specialist. In addition to hands-on repair work, computer support specialists handle technical support requests over the phone and via email and may support both outside customers and employees inside the organization. Educational requirements vary, but they usually include either an associate degree or a bachelor's degree in a computer-related major. The BLS projects about as fast as average job growth for computer support specialists, at a rate of 18 percent from 2010-2020. The median wage in 2011 was $48,000.

If you want to focus on supporting a company's computer and network systems, you could consider becoming a network and computer systems administrator. In addition to identifying and fixing problems with the company's systems, systems administrators install hardware, help improve the system's efficiency, and assist with network security. A bachelor's degree is a common requirement, but some employers look for technical certifications, related work experience, or an associate degree. According to the BLS, the field will expect faster than average growth, at 28 percent from 2010-2020, which results in favorable job prospects. As of 2011, the median wage was $71,000.

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