If you're looking for a new career that doesn't cost a lot of money up front, and you have a sincere love of technology, then repairing computers may represent a perfect match for your passion, and the need for gainful self-employment.
While Moore’s Law (the fact that computer power doubles every 18 months) has gotten us addicted to frequently upgrading our gadgets, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for repairing older machines.
You’ll never need to pay anyone to fix your computer again, and good computer techs can make pretty decent money…
In fact, while computer repair isn’t necessarily the fastest-growing field in the world of technology, there is still plenty of business around for those who know how to keep computers and other office machines in fighting form.
What Type of Education Is Necessary?
There are multiple educational options for those interested in a career as a computer tech. You can decide whether you just want to take a few classes, read some library books, get certified by attending a two-year program at a vocational school, or pursue a full bachelors degree in computer science at a university.
Obviously, you’ll get a more complete education with the last option, but tuition for a 2-year program at a technical school will probably cost around $5,000 in tuition, which is far less than the cost of obtaining a bachelors degree at a university.
While the A+ certification program has been around for quite some time, it is still the foundation for a career as a computer technician. True, some of the information is a bit dated, but it is very difficult to keep a program current, in a field as dynamic as technology. The A+ certification gives aspiring computer techs a broad knowledge base from which to draw.
The cost for taking the exams to get your A+ certification is under $400, but you may want to enroll in a study program, unless you already know everything you need. The costs of the study programs vary, so find one that fits your budget, and get to work.
There is really no substitute for hands-on experience, when trying to gain knowledge on a given subject, and computer repair is no exception. If you're looking to get started in the field, then consider building your own computer from parts, learning to uninstall, reinstall, and troubleshoot multiple operating systems (Windows, Linux, etc.).
Once you’ve experimented on your own computer, offer to fix your friends’ computers, or volunteer for a charity that could use some tech support. You’ll be working for free, but the experience you’ll gain will be invaluable. Plus, volunteering looks great on a resume, and professional testimonials will be valuable for your website and your marketing materials, when you're ready to start your own business.
Don’t fret if you take on a project that is more than you can handle at the moment. If you get stuck on something, get on Google and scan the forums for answers.
What Are the Perks?
Beyond the fact that you’ll never need to pay anyone else to fix your computer again, good computer technicians can make pretty decent money. Starting pay for qualified technicians is around $31,000 per year, and more experienced techs can make up to $60,000 per year. Not too shabby for a career you can start on a 2-year program.
Are you a computer repair technician who has been operating a successful freelance operation? Consider sharing your story with us in the Self-Employed blog.