What does a computer technician do?
Computers are important in just about every industry. Therefore, support specialists are ubiquitous. Computer technicians take care of software and hardware behind the scenes so that companies and employees can use them to perform their jobs. The responsibilities necessary for this position vary between employers. However, most computer technicians are responsible for maintaining information technology systems. To get a job as a computer technician, you’ll need to be familiar with hardware and software.
Names for computer technicians
Computer technicians work in IT roles since most organizations have a dedicated IT department into which this position fits. Businesses typically have one or several computer technicians who take care of the general electronics needs for the company or specialize in a particular niche. Other names for a computer technician include:
• PC technician
• PC repair technician
• IT support person
• Computer support specialists
• Help desk technicians
Types of computer technicians
There are several types of computer technicians. Some work in electronics and repair shops, troubleshooting issues for customers throughout the day. Others operate in small, medium and large businesses, providing training, maintenance, installation and support for all employees or those in a particular department. As a computer technician, you have opportunities to work on a contract basis. Technicians also work at a help desk, offering support for clients from a variety of sources.View Roles
What is the average salary of a computer technician?
In 2021, the median annual salary for a computer support specialist was $57,910. Computer network support specialists earn more, with a median salary of $62,760.
Pay by industry
The industry that you’re in affects your salary as a computer technician. For example, specialists who work in telecommunications earned a median salary of $76,910 in 2021. Those in finance and insurance earned a median annual income of $74,920. Computer network support specialists who worked in computer systems design and related services earned a median yearly pay of $61,390.
Factors that affect salary
You have several options to earn a higher income as a computer technician. Getting more credentials, education and training increases your value. Many computer techs are available on call, so if you're available to work odd hours to help with emergencies, this typically warrants a higher salary. It also helps if you choose to work in one of the highest paying areas of the country for tech jobs, which include:
- Silicon Valley
- Washington D.C. metro area
- St. Louis
Working as a computer technician
If you enjoy learning and explaining the particulars of hardware and software, you would likely enjoy a position as a computer technician. The work tends to be repetitive, which allows you to hone your skills. Within the consistency of your responsibilities, you’ll be in charge of a variety of tasks, which keeps you interested and prevents boredom.
What are the responsibilities of a computer technician?
A computer technician is responsible for helping clients with computer hardware and networking systems. This role often requires you to work with other devices, such as tablets and smartphones. You’ll take on training, troubleshooting and repair roles, and in some cases, install new software and perform updates. Expect to be asked to show employees and clients how to operate software and hardware as well. In other cases, you’ll take on a problem-solving role. Once you identify the source of hardware and software issues, you’re required to fix them or direct them to the appropriate department for resolution.
Computer technician job description
As a computer technician, you have the following duties:
- Identifying and removing viruses
- Updating software
- Repairing hardware and accessories, such as printers and scanners
- Networking troubleshooting and support
- Regular maintenance
- Customizing software and hardware to suit the needs of the client
- Data recovery
What type of equipment do computer technicians use?
In this role, you need a good understanding of electronics equipment and accessories, including computers and their peripherals. You’ll use basic and specialized tools to maintain and repair hardware.
This role often requires you to take apart devices to inspect, maintain and fix them. Using the right tools makes the job safer and more productive. Zip ties to bundle cables and wires will come in handy. Some of the other hand tools that you use as a computer technician include:
- Small Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers
- Wire cutters and strippers
- Needle-nose pliers
- Crimping pliers
- Hex keys and Allen wrenches
Specialty tools for computer technicians
Computer technicians use some or all of the following specialty tools for working with computers and networks:
- Cable and electrical testing meters
- USB network adapters
- Flash drives
- Soldering tools
- Diagnostic tools
- Software tools to work with files, folders and drives
- Protection tools, such as anti-spyware software
What is the work environment of a computer technician?
A computer technician usually works in an office setting. If you’re the IT person for a company, you're likely to assist employees in one location. Traveling to other branches of that business is a possibility as well, as is operating out of a retail location. This is usually an indoor job. While you occasionally have to head outside to check some cables, computers and hardware operate best when they’re in a climate-controlled area.
Even though you work indoors, it's not common to sit at your desk all day. Many computer technicians work at other employees’ desks or in server rooms. You should be prepared to access equipment and cables underneath and behind furniture.
Remote work for a computer technician
Working from home is often available as a computer technician since many of your responsibilities can be performed remotely. You're able to walk people through troubleshooting their own devices or access their computers from your location to assist them. If you need to work on hardware, request that the customer send it to you. Make the most of your salary by working for a company in a high-paying region while living in a city with a lower cost of living.
Who are your colleagues as a computer technician?
Your colleagues are usually other IT people, like IT managers or IT support technicians. In a corporate setting, you and your colleagues would typically work under the chief information officer. However, it's possible to see other leaders and managers supervise your work. You’ll interact with the other employees in the company who require your services. If you work in a computer repair shop, your colleagues will be the other computer technicians, and you’ll serve the public or private clients.
What is the work schedule of a computer technician?
As a computer technician, expect to work full time. Your hours often match those of the other employees in a company as they require your services while they’re working. You should be ready to work during off hours to deal with updates or work on the weekend in a repair shop.
What is the career outlook for a computer technician?
IT is a specialty that many businesses and individuals don’t possess. Almost everyone uses computers, but they get pretty flustered when their systems break down, malfunction or glitch. Understanding computer technology is a unique skill that allows you to assist these people now and in the future.
The computer technician role is expected to grow as fast as the average job in the United States. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also explains that more support services will be required as technology continues to develop. Computer equipment and software are becoming increasingly complex and require technicians to manage and troubleshoot them.
A role as a computer technician prepares you for management and leadership positions in the IT department. Depending on your interests, you could also become a programmer or software developer. Some of the other positions to grow into as you gain experience include:
- IT systems manager
- Computer forensic analyst
- Network architect
- Network and systems administrator
What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a computer technician?
Find the ideal job for your interests by working with a staffing company that matches you to the appropriate role. Spherion is a top staffing agency that has associations with a broad network. Working with Spherion gives you the following advantages:
- Access to a broad range of businesses
- Flexibility in your schedule and work environment
- Guidance and support if you need help
- Weekly income
- Training opportunities to advance your skills
- Efficient interviewing process
What education do you need as a computer technician?
You don’t need a bachelor's degree to become a computer technician; in fact, pursuing your career after earning an associate's degree or completing an applicable certificate program is quite possible. However, some of the jobs in your career path require you to hold a bachelor's degree. It's a good idea to work toward a degree in computer science or similar specialization after you enter the workforce in this field. One benefit of earning a bachelor's degree is that many degree programs offer certifications upon graduation.
If you’re interested in computer technician work, you have access to several certification programs. These include formal training and an exam. Getting additional certifications will open the door to more job opportunities. There is no single certification that every computer technician needs. However, Cisco, Microsoft and Google are some companies that offer legitimate certifications. Becoming certified demonstrates your knowledge, as well as your commitment to the field.
Computer technician skills & competencies
The primary skill that computer technicians have is strong technical knowledge. Understanding how components, electronics, networks and software operate and interact allows you to do your job.
In addition to a high degree of technical skill, you’ll excel as a computer technician if you’re proficient in the following areas:
- Willingness to learn
- Problem solving
- Ability to perform well under pressure
- Decision making
- Advising and teaching others
- Developing goal-oriented strategies
If you’re interested in math and electronics but want to work with people, consider a job as a computer technician. The following frequently asked questions provide additional information to help you decide whether this is the career path for you.