How to Become a Computer Repair Tech in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a computer repair technician. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Computer Support Technician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

A computer repair tech is a specialist who installs and fixes problems with computer hardware and software. Typical duties include running diagnostic tests, disassembling hardware, replacing defective components, scanning for and removing viruses and spyware or uninstalling and reinstalling programs. These technicians work with individual computers and computer networks. Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a computer repair technician is right for you.

Education Required High school diploma; most take classes in computers and electronics after high school
Training Required On-the-job training common
Key Skills Analytical, communication, dexterity, and troubleshooting skills
Job Growth (2012-2022) 4% for all computer, ATM, and office machine repairers*
Median Salary (2014) $36,560 for all computer, ATM, and office machine repairers*

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

Step 1: Graduate From High School

You will need a high school diploma or General Educational Development (G.E.D.) certificate to enroll in any postsecondary computer technician training program. Some high school courses can also prepare you for computer repair work. Physics, mathematics, electronics and computer programming are helpful for understanding the technology. English and speech courses are helpful for developing better communication skills.

Step 2: Conduct Your Own Explorations

There are a number of ways you can familiarize yourself with the workings of computers. You can actively troubleshoot problems on your own computer and those of friends and relatives. If you have the financial resources, you could research and purchase the necessary components to build a system. You could volunteer to provide tech support at your church or a local not-for-profit organization.

Step 3: Earn An Associate's Degree

A wide assortment of community colleges and private technical academies offer associate's degree programs that will train you to service computers. Course topics cover basic electronics, digital logic, operating systems, applications software, computer peripherals and networks. The curriculum in most programs is divided between classroom instruction and lab courses that provide you with the opportunity to collaborate with other students and develop problem-solving skills.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

You can improve your employment prospects by earning certification as a computer technician. The Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) and CompTIA are two of the most prominent organizations offering certifications. To obtain the ETA's Certified Computer Service Technician designation (CST), you need to pass their Associate Electronics Technician exam for CST. The exam tests your competency in 16 areas of PC maintenance, including computer assembly and disassembly, motherboards, processors, memory, storage and peripherals.

CompTIA A+ certification is also for computer repair techs but is somewhat more comprehensive than the CST, addressing networking and security as well as installation, maintenance and repair. To earn A+ certification you need to pass CompTIA's essentials exam and practical applications exam. Several major companies in the computer industry have made A+ certification a mandatory credential for employment.

Step 5: Obtain Employment

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't have specific figures for computer repair techs, but in the larger category for computer, automated teller and office machine repairers, approximately 133,100 people were employed in 2012 (www.bls.gov, with employment projected to reach 138,200 by 2022. Your strongest job prospects are with computer and electronics wholesalers and retailers, computer systems design firms and computer repair services. You could also establish your own repair service - according to the BLS, around 20% of computer technicians are self-employed. As of May 2014, you could expect to earn a median salary of $35,560.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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