A computer repair technician is a person who diagnoses computer problems and fixes them. He may specialize in solving hardware or software problems or be adept at repairing both. His job may be a staff position at a large company with a dedicated information technology (IT) department, at a company that provides third-party computer maintenance or at an electronics retailer. Some computer repair technicians are self-employed and work from home or at a privately leased office.
Technicians who specialize in hardware repair normally work on desktops, laptops, handheld devices and local area network (LAN) components. They generally have expertise in computer peripherals such as keyboards, monitors, scanners, printers and hard drives. Knowledge of network hardware commonly includes expertise in diagnosing and repairing fiber optics, switches and routers. Hardware problems are frequently solved by replacing components rather than repairing them as this is often a quicker and more cost-effective solution.
The diagnosis and repair of software glitches are commonly more difficult since so many components are involved in software applications. Although a crisis may present as a software problem, it is often the result of troubles with the server, operating system or an obstacle such as a virus or worm that has invaded the system. Simple adjustments to preferences and settings sometimes solve these types of problems, but they frequently involve uninstalling and reinstalling software to identify the area of trouble. A computer repair technician is generally expected to back up current files that are crucial to the user so they will not be permanently lost during the repair process.
As computer systems become more sophisticated and free online downloads proliferate, a computer repair technician is generally expected to keep up with the latest technology. As quickly as new applications are introduced, related problems multiply. The majority computer users are typically unaware of where downloads originate, making it even more difficult for a technician to identify, isolate and repair the damage the download may have caused. As new hardware becomes available, the chances of troubles also increase.
Success in this job normally requires good mechanical and analytical abilities. Skill in interpreting customer descriptions of problems is generally a plus since most computer users are not familiar with the technical terms used by professional computer repair technicians. Patience is customarily considered an asset for people with this job since some problems, especially those related to software, can only be solved through the process of elimination.
A computer repair technician position normally requires a certificate of completion in computer technology and repair. Many universities, community colleges and technical institutes offer a range of technology curriculums devoted to hardware, software and general computer system maintenance. Experience in computer repair is generally preferred for applicants for this position.