Computer systems in general are becoming ever more complex.The generic "PC" that won the Time Magazine award back in 1982 bears only a physical resemblance to those now sitting on millions of desks and in homes all over the world. Few industries have experienced the combination of growth and progression that the IT industry has over the last 30 years, and a great deal of the driving force behind that trend has been the PC.
For many years, consumers pushed hardware manufacturers for faster and more powerful hardware. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, with the advent of 1 GHz personal computers, people are finally able to buy a system that is literally as fast as they need. For the time being at least. The one truth of PCs and technology in general is that there will always be someone or something that demands faster and more powerful hardware.
But a PC is so much more than hardware. Although the term personal computer is a definition of a hardware device, from the perspective of a PC support person, a PC is the hardware as well as the software broken down into their individual components. These components include the operating system, the application software, the input and output peripherals, such as printers and scanners, and just about any other component that can be put in, connected to, wired to, or set up with a personal computer. In fact, for many PC support people, their role transcends working with the actual PC and starts to touch on subjects such as ergonomics, health, and safety at work.
- Evaluate new solutions and products-New hardware and software products are released with amazing frequency. In many cases, before a company will adopt a new product or technology, an evaluation must be performed. This task often falls to PC support technicians because they have a detailed understanding of the systems currently in use and can accurately gauge how the new product will interact and work with existing solutions. They are also in an excellent position to evaluate the potential benefits a new product can bring to the company.
- Update and deal with virus infections-Nowadays, most companies have software that detects computer virus infections and prevents them from spreading. The task of dealing with virus outbreaks often falls to the PC support staff. As well as dealing with viruses once they have been detected, PC support staff are often assigned the task of installing and updating the antivirus software along with educating users in good antivirus practices.
- Deal with printer issues-The title of PC support technician does not mean that you will just be dealing with PCs. Printers are an integral part of todays PC systems, and many people assume that the PC support person and the printer support person are one and the same. For basic issues, such as configuration and the changing of toner or ink cartridges, this assumption is fine. However, if the printer is actually mechanically broken, then a PC support person is unlikely to be asked to fix it, but is expected to communicate the problem to a printer repair technician.
The physical nature of PC hardware does not lend itself well to online or Web-based training, and there are fewer companies offering online courses than for other areas of IT. Two reputable companies that do offer Web based CompTIA A+ preparation courses are www.smartforce.com and www.knowledgenet.com. Before signing up, ensure that you are comfortable with the teaching method.
The software aspect of PC hardware support is easier to provide for, with many online institutions offering courses in Microsoft operating systems. Microsoft also offers online training on its operating systems through its network of education partners. Information can be found at www.microsoft.com/ trainingandservices.
Many IT professionals choose to join professional associations for the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals. For software support personnel, there are a number of associations, but the Helpdesk Professionals Association (HDPA) is one that is particularly focused on the needs of those working in PC software support.
The HDPA is an organization that" Champions for the advancement of the technical support profession." Membership in this nonprofit organization costs $65 annually. For more information and to find out if there is a chapter near you, check out its Web site at www.hdpa.org.
PC software support is a challenging field that presents those participating with a varied and interesting range of tasks. The requirements for PC software support staff to understand PC hardware to some degree makes the position even more challenging. If you are looking for variety, flexibility, and interesting experiences PC software support is for you.
Which Way Is Up to You
PC support is a truly diverse field. Those employed as PC support technicians to possess more than just technical skill if they are to succeed. A thirst for knowledge is equally as important as communication and troubleshooting skills. Although there is room for those who choose to be a hardware or a software specialist, neither will escape the need to know a great deal about the other. * support is a truly rewarding field.