Difference Between a Computer Technician & a Computer Specialist

By Sharon Moran

Just like not all physicians practice the same areas of medicine, computer professionals have wide realms of expertise. Modern computer technology has become exponentially more complex each decade since the invention of the first computers. It's no longer assumed that every computer professional could do every job that involves computers.

Computer Technicians' Diverse Knowledge Base

Generally speaking from a high level, there are clear distinctions between a computer technician and a computer specialist. A computer technician has a wider and broader view of technology compared with other computer professionals. A well-qualified computer technician typically has a two-year or four-year college degree although this is not a firm requirement, or a computer technician might obtain a series of certifications in lieu of a college degree in a technical field. Sometimes, a computer technician will have a four-year degree in a non-technical field and pursue several technical certifications.

Realm of the Computer Technician

A computer technician could be trained to perform Mac or PC repairs. A technician can diagnose any problem that you might be experiencing on your computer. Considering all the things that may go wrong, a computer technician could fix your computer based upon prior experience or repair manuals from the manufacturers. A computer technician could specialize in commercial or residential printers with the ability to service several different makes and models. The salary range for a computer technician with less than 4 years experience is between $30,000 and $41,000.

Computer Specialists' Razor Sharp Focus

Unlike a computer technician, a computer specialist has a razor-sharp focus of a specific niche technology. Moreover, this technology typically is a business-critical technology instead of a general, consumer-oriented technology. A computer specialist may come from a computer technician or an engineering background. A four-year college degree is almost certainly a prerequisite. However, regardless of the background, the computer specialist understands current technology better than anyone else. The salary for a computer specialist with less than four years experience is, on average, higher than a computer technician with a range between $40,000 and $66,000, according to Payscale.com.

The Realm of the Computer Specialist

A computer specialist will typically work on massive government or commercial projects. Often, you will find a computer specialist operating computer system air traffic control centers all around the country. Or, you could find a computer specialist being employed by nuclear power companies to work on their industry-specific systems. The specialist may work independently, or work with a team of specialists to provide 24-hour coverage throughout the year. Computer specialists have the responsibility to make sure their computer systems operate without any glitches because even a small computer outage could result in tragic consequences.

Future of Computer Professions

Computer technology is constantly changing, and the demand for computer professionals will continue to increase. As a result, there will be an equal demand for computer specialists and computer technicians. However, as software technology evolves, computer specialists eventually will become even more specialized than they are at present.

About the Author

Sharon Moran is a freelance writer who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a minor in philosophy and a Master of Education degree in urban education. She has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her work appears on Lance Armstrong's Livestrong.com. She is a competitive Olympic weightlifter for East Coast Gold.