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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.

What Does a Computer Repair Technician Do?

As a computer repair technician, you will be responsible for ensuring that individual computers and computer networks run efficiently and properly. You will need to listen to a client's concerns about their system's performance, running diagnostics on software and their internet connection to try and identify problems in a timely manner. Solutions may include installing new software or hardware, fixing issues with equipment currently installed, scanning for malicious programs, fixing or replacing computer parts. You may also need to help clients set up a recovery point on their computers, resetting the computer to an earlier point in its programming.

Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a computer repair technician is right for you.

Education Required Some postsecondary training is common, ranging from a certificate to a bachelor's degree
Training Required On-the-job training common
Key Skills Analytical, communication, dexterity, and troubleshooting skills
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 10% (for all computer support specialists)*
Median Salary (2018) $50,980 (for all computer user support specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Computer Repair Technician?

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.

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 support specialists, approximately 863,100 people were employed in 2018. Your strongest job prospects are with computer systems design firms and education service companies.

What Are Some Related Careers?

Computer network support specialists perform many of the same duties as a repair technician, though network support specialists often have more specialized skills and are typically able to create new computer networks, as well as work with existing ones. Computer programmers test and write code readable by computers instructing them what to do, often needing some of the same diagnostic and technical skills as a repair technician to ensure they work properly. Installers and repairers of telecommunications equipment use some of the same skills as computer repair technicians, though they work with lines and devices that carry communication signals, rather than just computers.