Learn how to get started as a computer technician, an in-demand information technology (IT) field.
There’s hardly a single industry where computers don’t play a role. That means there will likely always be a demand for computer technicians and support specialists to keep those computers and networks running. Learn more about this quickly growing field and get yourself job-ready with these ten tips.
Computer technicians install, maintain, and troubleshoot hardware and software for businesses and organizations. Depending on what type of company you work for, your day-to-day tasks may include:
Setting up hardware and installing software
Performing repairs on computers and other peripherals
Providing support for software or hardware issues
Assisting with the IT aspect of onboarding new hires
Answering technical questions
Performing regular software updates
Troubleshooting system failures and bugs
Managing security updates
If you’re interested in helping others through a role as a computer technician, here are ten tips to help you prepare for and secure a job.
One way to validate your skills to a potential employer is to earn a certification in computer or help desk support. Consider starting with a foundational certificate, like the CompTIA A+ credential, to help make your resume stand out to hiring managers. With the Google IT Support Professional Certificate you’ll learn the job-ready skills you need while preparing yourself to pass the CompTIA A+ exam, even with no previous experience.
The Google IT Support Professional Certificate has helped me get a headstart on my degree in Computer Science as I did not have to take the ‘How Computers Work’ class and my certificate was recognized as proof of knowing some of the basics. In addition, this certificate gave me the confidence I needed to apply for the degree program. -Jason Niro, Coursera learner
Some companies will require you to get certified in the specific product that company uses. For example, a company working with Apple computers might prefer the AppleCare Mac Technician (ACMT) certification, while a company that uses Windows may want the Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification.
Check some job listings of positions you might want to apply for to see what certifications are recommended or required.
While not all computer technical support jobs require a degree, having one in computer science or a related field can help you build your computer knowledge and give you a competitive edge over other applicants. Education requirements vary. Some companies require an associate’s degree, while others look for at least a bachelor degree.
Get to know computer technology inside and out—literally—by building your own computer. As you gather and assemble the components of a computer, you’ll learn about its structure, what makes it work, and what hardware issues correspond to what parts.
In addition to the hands-on learning experience, you’ll end up with a machine customized to your needs and likely for less than what you’d pay for a comparable pre-built computer in a store.
One of your biggest tasks in a computer technician job will be identifying and solving hardware and software issues. But you don’t need to get hired to start gaining experience fixing computers.
Chances are your family members, friends, and co-workers experience computer problems from time to time. Let them know you’re willing to help. You can also search local classified ads for unwanted broken computers that you can try to diagnose and fix. Keep track of your work so you can add your successes to your resume.
My advice for someone who is interested in pursuing a career in IT is to own it. Even if you don't have the background, education, or experience needed to start a new role in IT - take the time to sit down with a laptop and learn absolutely everything you can. Anything is possible. -Sean Flanagan, Coursera learner
Strong technical skills and knowledge of computer systems are critical for success in the IT industry, but keep in mind that you’ll also be working with people. Developing these “soft” skills can not only help you impress hiring managers but can help make you a better technician once you’re on the job.
Solid communication techniques help you to actively listen and ask the right questions when walking a co-worker through a computer setup or helping a user troubleshoot a software issue. Critical thinking empowers you to find solutions to complex problems that might not exist in current documentation. The ability to write clearly allows you to effectively document your actions for a company knowledge base or customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Another excellent way to improve your skill set while earning resume-ready experience is to volunteer for an organization in need of computer repair. Check with local schools, small businesses, or not-for-profit organizations to find out where you can help.
Remember to ask for a letter of recommendation outlining the type and amount of volunteer work you performed, including specific IT tasks. Keep the contact information of the people you work with. They might make excellent references when you start applying for jobs.
Get hands-on experience and additional professional references by applying for help desk internships in your area or online. With a paid or unpaid internship, you’ll get to learn from experienced IT professionals while troubleshooting hardware and software problems in the real world.
Check for intern openings on LinkedIn or other local job boards. If you’re enrolled in a degree program, the career services department of your university may be able to help you find local opportunities.
Your resume or CV is often the first impression you’ll have on a recruiter or hiring manager. Invest the time to make it as good as it can be now, and you’ll be that much closer to securing interviews later.
As you build or update your resume, be sure to include any certifications and degrees you’ve earned, as well as volunteer or other previous experience you’ve had with working with computers. Highlight the skills you’ve developed, especially those skills listed on the job description for the position you’re applying for. Try to be as specific as possible when describing your achievements.
Interviewing for a job can feel like a big step, and it’s normal to feel a little nervous. Build your confidence by rehearsing some common interview questions ahead of time. When you’re sitting in front of the hiring manager or recruiter, you’ll look and feel more prepared. Here are some questions to start with:
How do you communicate technical information clearly to non-technical people?
What is your troubleshooting process?
How do you keep your skills and knowledge current?
What operating systems are you familiar with?
Can you tell me about a time you’ve had to deal with a difficult person? How did you handle it?
What do you do when you encounter an error you can’t solve?
What are your favorite or least favorite technology products? Why?
What questions do you ask when troubleshooting a user’s computer problem?
How do you prioritize your work when you have more than one project at a time?
Set aside some time each day to browse job search sites for computer technician positions. Pay careful attention to any directions regarding how to apply. Some companies will have you fill out a form and upload your resume. Others might ask you to email a cover letter along with your resume.
Don’t be afraid to apply to jobs even if you lack some of the qualifications. You might be the best candidate even if you’re not one hundred percent qualified (especially if you can demonstrate your passion and customer service skills).
Regarding job searching, don't be intimidated by the job descriptions and think you're not qualified enough for the position or any position. Apply with confidence, interview with confidence, and be prepared. - Stevenson Benoit, Coursera learner
Remember that your first job as a computer technician is also the first step in what might be a much longer career. The experience you gain can create opportunities to advance to other, higher-paying career paths in cybersecurity, app or software development, systems administration, or cloud engineering.
How much do computer technicians earn? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a computer support specialist is $55,510 as of 2020 .
What industries can I work in? With computer support skills, you can work in a variety of industries. Computers are everywhere, and so is the demand for computer support technicians.
Is a job as a computer technician right for me? If you like working with technology and solving problems, then this field might be a good fit for you.
Are computer technicians in demand? Demand for computer support specialists is projected to grow by eight percent between 2019 and 2029 (much faster than average) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics .
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Computer Support Specialists, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm#tab-1." Accessed April 13, 2021.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.