Computer Hardware Technician Job Description
Computer hardware technicians are IT specialists who focus on resolving issues related to central processing units (CPUs), motherboards, and drivers. In this role, computer hardware technicians work closely with end users and IT professionals to troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair issues related to a computer’s hardware systems or operating system, which can involve both software-based diagnostics and physically examining hardware elements.
In this role, computer hardware technicians also provide direct support during hardware installation and configuration and may also assist with repairing and maintaining peripherals such as printers and drivers. This role tends to balance technical and client support tasks, and requires a high level of attention to detail and problem solving.
Computer Hardware Technician Duties and Responsibilities
While the day-to-day responsibilities of a computer hardware technician can vary, most share several core duties:
Troubleshoot Hardware Issues
One of the central responsibilities of a computer hardware technician is troubleshooting hardware-related issues for computer users. Typically, the user will submit a help desk ticket to their organization’s IT department and a hardware technician will conduct a series of diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the problem. In some cases, the technician may need to open the computer and physically examine its parts to troubleshoot performance issues.
Maintain Hardware and Peripherals
Computer hardware technicians also oversee regular maintenance of computer hardware and related devices such as printers and drivers. These regular maintenance tasks can range from system backups to cleaning and upgrading devices or components. In this aspect of the role, the computer hardware technician may also determine whether a device is at the end of its life or nearing failure and remove it from service.
Repair Computer Hardware
Computer hardware technicians repair a wide variety of hardware-related issues, from replacing CPUs and motherboards to repairing connections within the computer. This aspect of the role requires familiarity with both hardware and software processes, as the computer hardware technician may need to work with the command line or conduct physical repairs that involve removal, wire replacement, or soldering.
Install and Configure Hardware
Computer hardware technicians also provide user support during hardware installation and configuration. They may directly install new hardware or walk users through steps to initially set up a new computer or peripheral and may provide support by developing documents related to installation and configuration procedures. Additionally, computer hardware technicians test devices and components to support quality assurance procedures.
Escalate Help Desk Tickets
In some cases, computer hardware technicians may need to escalate particularly difficult cases to supervisors or specialists. If the IT department is not equipped to resolve the issue, the technician may need to determine whether the equipment is still under warranty and submit a warranty claim to the manufacturer. If the device is out of warranty, the technician may alert their supervisor, who will then decide how to proceed.
Conduct System Imaging
Computer hardware technicians also prepare and clean computer systems for imaging. This process involves removing all software and reinstalling it, which is generally only necessary in cases where the operating system has become corrupted. In these cases, the computer hardware technician works to ensure that all of the user’s necessary software can be successfully reinstalled after operating system replacement.
Computer Hardware Technician Skills and Qualifications
Successful computer hardware technicians possess a mix of technical and interpersonal skills. Most workers in this role have at least an associate degree, along with the following skills:
- Technical skills – computer hardware technicians work closely with users to resolve hardware-related issues, so they should have extensive familiarity with computer hardware architecture and functions.
- Team collaboration – most computer hardware technicians work within IT departments, collaborating with other technicians and support analysts to diagnose and resolve computer issues, so teamwork is essential.
- Problem-solving skills – computer hardware technicians should be excellent troubleshooters, able to locate and identify hardware performance issues and develop long-term solutions.
- Time management skills – time management is also important for computer hardware technicians, since they need to set priorities while handling multiple users and issues.
- Communication skills – computer hardware technicians should be strong verbal and written communicators to successfully work with users and other IT professionals to diagnose and repair hardware issues and develop reports.
Tools of the Trade
Computer hardware technicians tend to work in office settings and should be able to use standard office equipment and software in addition to the following:
- Diagnostic tools (multimeters, System Explorer software)
- Repair tools (screwdrivers, pliers)
Computer Hardware Technician Education and Training
Computer hardware technicians need at least an associate degree in a related field, although most companies prefer to hire technicians who have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as computer engineering or a similar field. Certification programs can also help applicants advance their careers. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as computer hardware technicians gain familiarity with best practices for troubleshooting and providing support.
Computer Hardware Technician Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes computer hardware technicians as computer support specialists. As of May 2017, the BLS found that computer user support specialists earned a median annual salary of $50,210. The highest-paid 10 percent of computer user support specialists earned more than $82,900 per year, while the lowest-paid earned less than $30,550.
The BLS expects employment in this field to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 11 percent between 2016 and 2026.
We searched the web and found many resources if you’d like to begin a career as a computer hardware technician:
CompTIA A+ Certification – computer hardware technicians can obtain A+ certification through CompTIA to learn basic and advanced repair and support techniques and expand their employment prospects.
Principles of Computer Hardware by Alan Clements – This book covers the fundamentals of computer hardware, with a focus on computer architecture and operation along with memory, operating systems, and peripherals.
“8 Tech Support Best Practices” – Read this blog post to learn best practices for providing hardware support to computer users, resolve computer issues, and reduce downtime within a large IT department.
The Architecture of Computer Hardware, Systems Software, and Networking: An Information Technology Approach by Irv Englander – Learn technical details of computer hardware architecture with detailed examples and overviews.
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