Speaking at a national convention last year the same question was asked of me by numerous attendees. What do you look for in a good computer technician and what skills should they possess? The question seemed simple and straight forward, my answer was not. Computer technicians are similar to general practitioners in the medical field. There is the doctor you visit if you have a cold or need a stitch or two when you cut your finger. This doctor is the all-around small problem answer man.
But what if your network goes down or your system gets a virus possibly the company email server fails and 300 computers all go down at the same time, then can the general practitioner come running to your rescue? Generally speaking NO. For this you will need a specialist just like your medical provider. One doctor operates, another cares for you heart and so on. Computers and the technology that surrounds them is the same and experts and specialist come in all different makes and models.
Like doctors, the general public have a tendency to lump people who work in information technology fields together but as with medicine, there are distinct disciplines. Major disciplines in the IT industry include:
- Electronic Engineers – These are the over the top highly trained people who apply theory to design. They visualize the next steps in computer technology, oddly enough they may soon be obsolete since computers are building computers better than humans. Kind of like doctor heal thy self.
- Programmers – Responsible for designing and creating software.
- Computer ScientistsThey conduct research to expand the theoretical limits of computing. They are the most highly trained and skilled in our industry.
- Technical Support – These are the men and woman who answer the phone when you call the support line. It is probably the least skilled of our disciplines and they have one of the toughest jobs that being answering your question. They are the first line of defense in computer technology field.
- Web Designers – Highly skilled programmers, network administrators and artists, all at the same time.
- Computer Technician – Back to the beginning of this article. The guy or girl who fixes your computer, hands on, there when you need them. The general practitioner.
By my definition a good computer technician fixes, upgrades and configures computers. Unlike tech support, a computer technician is right on the front line. A broken machine is right in front of him. If you call them into your office to do work for you they are prepared for most immediate problems and hopefully their qualifications are on their website helping to choose one with the appropriate skill-set for your technical needs.
If you are the company that employs the computer technician then they are the person the customer can often see, talk and interact with discussing their problem. He will frequently have to explain in simple terms what is wrong or what the customer did wrong with his computer. A computer technician often faces problems he has never encountered before and has received no particular training to solve. He must be able to formulate solutions on the fly.
A good computer technician will have expertise in these areas:
- Communicating with the customer, co-worker or management
- Reading to find solutions to the problems he must solve
- Reading to keep up on what hardware and software is current
- Installing, upgrading, configuring and fixing software
- Installing and configuring simple networks, attaching computers to existing networks
- Replacing malfunctioned components in computers
- Performing maintenance tasks on computers like hardware upgrades and cleaning
- Fabricating simple repair parts
Most important they have to be able to think on their feet. Be patient and considerate because the person with the broken computer is normally at a complete loss and all they can think of is the work that still has to be done and their computer is not computing. Then the scary question looms on their minds, did they lose all the data on their computer or do they have to buy a new computer for thousands of dollars?
A good computer technician is essential to every company and luckily for the technician the one thing they will always have is job security in their field because you can never outsource the guy with the screwdriver.
Interviewed by: Gary Monroe, MERG Digital.
Phone/Fax 310 – 945-7414
14431 Ventura Blvd. Suite 104
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423