Do all your friends come to you with their computer problems? Are you the person who can always fix the printer, like a printer-whisperer? Do you stay up into the wee hours to clean out a virus from your family member's computer, which they got when they opened an email that they really should have known NOT to open? A career in computer repair might be right up your alley.
Though we can't promise that tomorrow you'll be sporting dark shades and zipping around in a black Volkswagen to rescue the technology-challenged, a degree in electronics or technology may help you get closer to using your expertise to help real people, and make money to boot.
Consumer electronics and home computers aren't the only products requiring the installation and hands-on maintenance of self-identified geeks. A variety of businesses and organizations -- from banks with walk-up ATMs, to businesses with large server rooms -- require the work of repair technicians to diagnose and treat problems.
Computer repair technicians will often simply replace the component that isn't working, since the cost of replacing is often less than the cost of actual repair. Commonly replaced systems include video cards, which transmit signals from the computer to the monitor; hard drives, which store data; and network cards, which allow communication over the network. Occasionally, defective devices are sent to a workshop where a computer repairer (aka bench technician) will work to diagnose the problem and repair it if possible.
Hours for computer repair technicians vary. Many who work on critical hardware like ATMs or on datbase processors may be on call around the clock, though others who work with less business-critical hardware and software will put in the average 40-50 hour week.
A degree in electronics -- at least an associate's degree -- is often required for most computer repair positions.
On-the-job training and certification in a variety of electronics specialties and levels will make employment and advancement much more likely. Newly hired computer repairers may work on personal computers or peripheral equipment. With experience, they can advance to positions maintaining more sophisticated systems, such as networking equipment and servers.