I will be graduating in a week and some time soon after that I am planning on enrolling into a local community college to study something on computers. My goal is to eventually work with computers as a career (PC hardware/repair/support type deal). People already turn to me when they encounter computer problems and most of the time I can just google in the problem and figure out an answer but at times when I can't figure it out I get really frustrated. I enjoy working with computers and the idea that some day I may encounter a problem and actually know how to fix it instead of calling Tech-support REALLY fascinates me. I am looking through the college booklet for classes, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do. I figured I'd try to go and acquire an Associate in Applied Sciences Degree through one of the degree programs but I'm not really sure if that's what I should be doing. There is one program that I am looking at "Computer Information Technology - Personal Computer Support" Would it be more beneficial if I go for the associates degree instead of a certificate? I see another program for a certificate "Computer Information Technology -- Personal Computer Technician" and its only for a semester. Yeah I'm not really sure which way I should go, am I even looking in the right direction? Is there another program I should try to go for? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Yes go for the associates instead of a certificate. Also try to complete the general education requirements in case you want to transfer to a 4 year for a BS degree. You really want to aim for that four year degree and even in this case you should go in that direction; even if you are not sure about long term goals.

You really need vendor and vendor neutral certificates to really get ahead in today's IT market. Certificates + experience seem to matter more, at least in my recent (successful) job search. It is true that certification has become less and less relevent to the real world and almost meaningless with brain dumps and the like, but when you are looking for a job, many HR departments, whether done by humans or a scanner will specifically look for acronyms like MCSE, CCNA, CCE, etc. I have personally seen cases where not having one certificate or another gave the edge to another candidate. The same can be seen with degrees. They have less in common with the real word. But it sure can't help and it may give you an edge over another candidate.

So, work on getting both. Quick gains can be made with vendor certification however.

A lot of where you focus depends on if you want to be self employed and what you like and how much money you want to make. I like network systems, Unix and unique or cutting edge systems and technologies so I focused on NetWare, Unix, Linux, and now, for the last four years, virtualization (VMware primarily but I do everything virtual so that includes Xen, MSVS, Virtuozzo, Hercules, Parallels, vPars, etc).

You should also know that the low end of pay is really on the PC client level. Most corporations store user data on servers and when a client has a problem either the entire system is replaced and then wiped with an image or a 'technician' comes out with a Ghost disk or boots from the network and lays a new image down. Not much troubleshooting there. Hardware issues are usually handled by the vendor for many SMEs and large corporations. Small offices or home offices usually will pay for a repair or OS support.

Big things I see are-read $$(and this is not all inclusive for sure):
Databases (SQL and Oracle are the big players)

Virtualization/Server Consolidation/P2V (HUGE!!!)

Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity (Many companies taking a second look at this after Katrina-dovetails into Virtualization nicely)

Linux (Especially integration with Windows)

Windows and Active Directory (with emphasis on AD in the enterprise!!! Including design concepts-not just the server OS that everyone else knows and my 10 year old can install)

Network (Cisco skills are still a good bet and you should have this regardless of which of the above you like)

Novell NetWare (I know, but as less and less folks know this that puts a supply/demand imbalance on the talent which means you can ask for more money to support this-especially migrations to Windows or Linux and NDS to AD or OpenLDAP)

Regardless you should also be well versed in VBscript, Perl, Java, C# and Shell scripting at a minimum and C is very useful if you spend a lot time with Unix/Linux.

And that's not even considering programming which someone else can comment on or even the embedded word like PDAs, cell phones, media players, etc. Lot of paths for the new IT person for sure.

I recommend working for a VAR (Value Added Reseller) or for a consulting firm. The pay is higher than for a employee and often has similiar (and many times better) benefits. I'm billed out at $150 per hour and my cut is $50 per hour-with benefits. Not bad for a guy without a paper degree!

Remember: The more esoteric and unique-even difficult, the more it puts you in control. That's why Linux/Unix admins make more than Windows admins (easy now, I'm talking about in general of course).

Hope my perspective helps.

commented: good one +1

I like Mark's response:
-"So, work on getting both. Quick gains can be made with vendor certification however."

Get some certs, get into a company with benefits that pay tuition assistance and then get the degree.

Some companies look at the degree as a filter for resumes so you may not find that every one will consider you, but that is why you work on the degree while employed. It will just increase the opportunities for you.

Yeah I know I am kind of digging up an old thread but I have a very useful site to answer this question.


It is a resource for people wanting to become computer technicians (how to start a business, improve an existing one, certification etc..)

Hey Sharon,
You don't know me but I was googling the same question you asked 2yrs ago: How to become a PC Technician? I was wondering if you found what you were looking for. I too want to become a PC technician. I am trying to figure out what courses would be helpful in college for this title. Can you share your info. Are you a PC Technician yet? I would appreciate any feedback, suggestions, any info you could give me. I am trying to acquire job skills for this position

Thank you for your time

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