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Where Can I Work as a PC Technician?

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Practically every home, office, store, gas station, farm, government department, garage, hotel, police station, and just about every other place you can think of has PCs. In fact, it is becoming hard to think of places where people work that do not have computers. This diversity allows PC technicians to pick and choose the type of environment they work in.

The fact that your surroundings can have a great effect in how content you are in a job has been discussed at several places. Also discussed were the various job types, office-based, project-based, and field-based, and the fact that if possible, you should work in an area that appeals to your preferences and passions. Of all the areas of IT discussed in this book, PC support is probably the most flexible in this respect. If your passion is cars, you could look for a PC support job at a big car dealership. If your passion is films, you could look for a job with a film production company or boating-a boat company.You get the idea. PC support people are more likely than those in any other field to choose whether to work in an office-based role or a field-based role. Even if you are in one place all the time, it doesn't have to be an office. How about working in a retail environment, or on a cruise ship, or on an oil rig? In PC support, the opportunities are almost endless.

Job Outlook

Many people predicted that with plug-and-play technology and advances such as jumperless configurations and easier software installations, the demand for PC support technicians would decline. That, it would appear, was not an accurate prediction.

In essence, the PC industry is self-perpetuating when it comes to the requirement for support. When "wizards" that helped with software tasks were introduced a number of years ago, some people also predicted the demand for people with PC software support skills would decline. Although it is now easier to do more with today's PC hardware and software, today's PC hardware and software does more- much more in fact. Currently, PC support technicians are unlikely to have to help somebody with styling text in a word processor (though it still does happen) and are more likely to be reconfiguring an import filter for a spreadsheet or reconfiguring a scanner driver for higher resolution. The level of demand for support remains, only the requirements have changed.

Careers in PC and Computer Support

The job outlook for PC support personnel is excellent. The Internet will continue to grow phenomenally over the next 10 years and connecting to the Internet will probably be done via PCs. Some people will elect to use a non-PC device to connect, but the reason that PCs have become so popular remains-they are truly versatile machines that provide a range of capabilities. And besides, won't these new "Internet devices" need repairs? And what about the new software on these Internet devices, won't it need support?

Another factor that will influence demand for PC support personnel are the software and hardware manufacturers who introduce new products. There will always be a need for people to install, upgrade, and support them.

Specialization vs. Generalization

Those who work in PC support have to be both specialists and generalists, though many do choose to be generalists with an area of specialization. Sounds a little confusing, but consider this: If you decide to become a PC hardware specialist, you will be expected to fully understand how a PC works at a very detailed level. To achieve this understanding, you must be familiar with PC operating systems because they often require configuration related to the hardware. Also, as a PC hardware technician, your job is effectively completed once the operating system is able to access the hardware.

PC software technicians are people who deal with and support software applications that are commonly used, such as word processors, Web browsers, spreadsheets, and so on.These applications run on the PCs, and the PCs run the operating systems. For PC software technicians to adequately perform their duties, they must at least have some knowledge of PC operating systems. Perhaps not as in-depth as the knowledge that a PC hardware technician has, but a good knowledge nonetheless.

A good PC support person knows a reasonable amount about all three areas: application software, operating systems, and hardware. Though they may elect to focus on one specific area more than another, having a general distribution of skills is most beneficial. When a PC support person with skills in all three areas attends a PC with a problem, he or she is much more likely to be able to help. When customers or clients report a problem with a PC, they often do not understand the problem enough to isolate the problem to a single area. This is when a multiskilled PC support person is of most benefit.

Effectively, those entering the PC support industry can choose to focus on hardware or software, or they can elect to learn about all of the three areas: hardware, operating systems, and applications. Once a certain level of knowledge is reached in each area, a specialization can be selected. One advantage of becoming familiar with all areas is that the individual will have had a chance to preview different areas of the industry and choose the area in which he or she is most interested.

Depending on where a support technician is employed, he or she may be required to have specialized knowledge of a specific hardware component or a specific software package. This is particularly true for those employed by major hardware or software vendors who must support customers or clients on the company's product range. In addition to this specialized knowledge, Help Desk support requires a working knowledge of commonly used applications, utilities, operating systems, and hardware configurations.
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