PC Technician
 
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II. Job Requirements/Prerequisites:

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Occupation Overview

PC Technicians install, fix, and upgrade personal computers and peripheral devices such as printers and scanners. In contrast to Technical Support Representatives, who often support computer software applications, PC Technicians tend to focus on getting the computer hardware to work properly. Software is used, but typically only at the operating system level in order to diagnose problems or correctly configure a system.

PC Technicians are employed in a variety of settings. These include (a) computer stores, where they regularly work with different computer systems, (b) office environments, where the variety of computers supported is more limited, and (c) computer manufacturers, where the computers supported are restricted to those manufactured by that specific company.

This is an ideal career for individuals who have an interest in electronics, like to fix things, and can work with minimal supervision. The increased usage of streaming media (video and audio) and digital media has led to more areas for PC Technicians to learn about.

As the use of computers continues to grow, so will the need for individuals who are qualified to repair them. Employment of PC Technicians will grow faster than most occupations through the year 2006, however in the current economic situation jobs can be difficult to find. The good news is that salaries for these jobs are on the rise.

    
 

Future Growth Opportunities

Opportunities for Advancement:
With experience, one can advance to Technical Lead and Manager positions within a PC repair organization or shop. With a Bachelor's Degree, it is possible to become a Hardware Engineer.

Skills Transferable to:
Electronics Service Person, Technical Support Representative, Communications Equipment Mechanic, Network Technician, and Business Equipment Technician.

    
 

Job Descriptions

PC Technicians perform a variety of activities related to computer hardware and the peripherals associated with them such as disk drives, monitors, and CD ROMS. Specific tasks include:

  • Cleaning computer hardware according to manufacturers' specifications.
  • Monitoring computer hardware performance and diagnosing problems.
  • Upgrading computers through the addition of new hardware, such as additional RAM or a new disk drive.
  • Setting up new configurations of equipment for temporary activities such as software testing.
  • Adjusting, repairing, and replacing worn or defective parts.
  • Performing testing of equipment that has been repaired, prior to returning the equipment to the user.

Often, the PC Technician receives a written work order with a description of the problem. Sometimes the request may come from a voicemail message. The first thing they do is check for common causes of the problem, such as loose connections or components that are obviously defective. If this does not isolate the problem, diagnostic tests can be run using hardware and software tools. Fixing problems usually requires replacing defective parts or reconfiguring the computer to correctly identify the hardware components.

Some PC Technicians specialize in the hardware from a particular manufacturer, but most work with equipment from a variety of vendors. With experience, PC Technicians will help other Technicians solve difficult problems, or work with Engineers in designing products and maintenance procedures.

More and more, PC Technicians are being asked to be familiar with the software being run on the computers they support. At a minimum, Technicians must understand the relevant operating system (such as Windows 98/2000/NT/XP, Unix, and Mac OS), and how to configure systems. The broader ones knowledge of software and hardware is, the greater their opportunity for advancement.

Entry Level: $7 - 20 / hour ($15 / hour average)

Experienced, New to Job: $8 - 28 / hour ($20 / hour average)

Experienced in Job: $10 - 40 / hour ($30 / hour average)

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