Computer technicians install, maintain and support information technology equipment, such as computers, printers, networks, software and servers. They work in company IT departments supporting internal users, or the service departments of IT manufacturers and distributors, where they support customers. By providing prompt, efficient service to IT users, computer technicians help companies benefit from their investment in information technology.
Qualifications for this role vary, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employers hiring technicians for technical positions prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information science. For other positions, an associate degree or vocational qualification may be sufficient.
Excellent product knowledge is essential for this job. Technicians can improve their knowledge of specific systems by taking courses run by IT companies. Some companies offer certification to technicians who complete training programs. Technicians must also keep up to date with changing product or service information by reviewing manufacturers’ service bulletins and product announcements.
Installing or upgrading IT equipment is an important part of the job. Technicians must be able to work quickly and efficiently to minimize disruption to users and maintain organizational productivity. They must be aware of compatibility issues when they install new operating systems or application software, for example. Technicians must also be able to demonstrate the operation and features of new products or systems to ensure that users do not encounter problems after an installation or upgrade.
Computer technicians need good analytical and problem solving skills to repair IT equipment or solve operating problems. They must be able to use diagnostic tools and support databases to identify the source of problems, which could be caused by hardware, software or network components, and make the necessary repairs or adjustments.
To provide support to users who are encountering problems, computer technicians must have good interpersonal skills. They may have to deal with users who are under stress or who have limited technical knowledge. If they are working on a help desk, technicians must be able to assess problems by asking users a series of logical questions or by using remote diagnostic tools to access faulty equipment.
Technicians need good administrative skills. They must record details of faults and solutions to help IT managers track the performance of different types of equipment. Documenting faults also helps to build the IT department’s knowledge of service issues, helping to speed up problem resolution in the future.
2016 Salary Information for Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists earned a median annual salary of $52,550 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, computer support specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $40,120, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $68,210, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 835,400 people were employed in the U.S. as computer support specialists.