A Career in Computer Maintenance

At one time, long before personal computers came to exist or became affordable and ubiquitous, General Electric designed a huge “mainframe” that they deployed in Boston. At the time, they believed that the entire city of Boston, all of its government offices, all its universities, its scientists, could easily be served by that one computer – all they would need would be to connect to it for a server at home. Routine computer maintenance shuts down servers and nodes on a regular basis these days; the GE mainframe was designed to never need any computer maintenance whatsoever – no software updates, no hardware upgrades. Thankfully for anyone who hopes to get into computer maintenance for a career, this isn’t the way things are done anymore. Because for people who have a technical bent of mind, and who love solving complicated tech problems, the computer maintenance niche is a godsend – it pays extremely well (starting salaries hover around $60,000), it comes with a good deal of respect, and it can be very satisfying to those who care.

The kind of training you need to get into computer support actually begins right at home – driven by a strong interest in learning about how machines work. As in most areas of problem solving, you don’t necessarily need to know everything to become an expert; you just need to know where you need to go to consistently find the answers. Put that together with a good deal of hands-on experience fixing your friends’ computer problems, and you’re off to a good start. Your formal training to become a computer maintenance technician starts in high school. Certification training courses exist in many high schools that count as credit towards a college degree or associate’s degree. Once you graduate from high school, you can run for a two-year or four-year graduation course, or you could attend community college that will send you out into the real world for hands-on experience. Certification though, is what will truly set you on your path.

A computer maintenance technician requires the certification of a competent authority in the field to be accepted at any business as an IT maintenance expert. Where you go for your certificates depends of course on the area of hardware that interests you. Basically, if working on hardware from a specific vendor is what really does it for you, you will of course need to apply for certification by that company. Several major vendors offer their specialized certifications – Novell, Microsoft MCSE., Apple and Cisco are just a couple of the most famous names. If your interests run more widely than the narrow focus of a single vendor, vendor neutral certifications should be your thing. The Computer Technology Industry Association Certification would be your goal here. An A+ certification from these people allows you to accept work in computer installation, preventive maintenance, basic networking, and computer security. If you go to a high school where they offer you classes to prepare for these certification exams, you could be in luck.

When you finally do qualify and get into the biz, make sure that you keep on learning. The computer industry is all about innovation and advancement. Nothing impresses your client like a little obscure program you can tip them off to that can solve a problem of theirs. However, if at any time, you should find out that you don’t have the answer to a problem, make sure that you admits as much up front, and make sure you know where to go to look for an answer. Too much damage is done to careers when people don’t have the stomach to admit that they don’t know.

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