Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a computer information technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degrees, on-the-job training, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.
Computer information technicians, also called computer user support specialists, customer service technicians and systems administrators, provide technical advice and assistance to computer users. They install, repair and maintain computer software and hardware. They may work on an organization's computer systems or network or operate help desks. Education levels among computer information technicians vary, and there are various opportunities to obtain professional certification.
|Required Education||Minimum of an associate's degree OR
Work experience plus certification
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||17%|
|Median Salary (2014)*||$47, 610|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Computer Information Technician Education Requirements
There are many ways to enter the field of computer information technology, so educational requirements vary. Though experience is important, many employers give preference to job applicants with some college education. Many jobs require a bachelor's degree in information systems, computer science or computer engineering. An associate's degree in a computer-related discipline may be all that's necessary for other positions. Some firms will hire applicants who have a college degree in any subject as long as they have the right technical skills. For some positions, a combination of pertinent work experience and certification may be substituted for a college degree.
Most computer support specialists acquire on-the-job training once they are hired. Training for most jobs lasts about three months, but may also be as short as one month or as long as a year. Training is an ongoing process for computer information technicians who wish to keep up with the latest advances in technology. They may choose to keep current by enrolling in professional training courses offered by their employers or software and hardware vendors. Computer information technicians may also train through programs at private technical schools, colleges and universities.
Professional certification may be used to demonstrate knowledge of a process or a product, and typically improve a computer information technician's job prospects. Certification training may be paid for by an employer after a technician is hired. Or it may be provided by a hardware or software vendor. Professional certification is voluntary, and offered by many organizations across the country. One well-known certifying body is Open Group. This vendor- and technology-neutral consortium offers two levels of independent certification, Certified IT Specialist and Master Certified IT Specialist (www.opengroup.org).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer support specialists, a group which includes computer information technicians, earned a median annual wage of $47, 610 as of May 2014. Of the industries that employ the greatest number of computer support specialists, positions in the management of companies and enterprises paid the highest salaries. Elementary and secondary schools paid the lowest (www.bls.gov).
The BLS predicted that jobs for computer support specialists is anticipated increase by 17% from 2012-2022, a rate that's faster than average for most occupations. Therefore, overall job prospects for computer information technicians are considered good. Applicants with good communication and technical skills, relevant work experience and a bachelor's degree will have an advantage in the job market over those who just have professional certification or an associate's degree.
Computer information technicians can advance in their professions by solving progressively more complex computer problems. They may go into management positions, or train to become computer programmers and software engineers. Strong job performance, professional certification and education credits are factors that can lead to promotion or advancement.
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