Deciding to go back to school for a career in computers-or as it is commonly referred to in the field: IT, Information Technology, or IT Services is a big decision and one that should not be taken lightly. If you are reading this article then chances are you have already decided that a career in computer repair might be right for you; equally important is choosing the right school. In any community there are going to be a variety of options from traditional four-year universities to various different technical colleges. While a four-year university is usually the best option for long-term career growth, continuing education at a four-year college isn’t right for everyone and many choose a technical college due to either the lower cost or shorter time required to complete the program. Many also choose to attend a technical college for computer repair so that they can quickly get into the workforce in an entry-level IT job and then complete a four-year degree later while they are working for a company that offers tuition reimbursement. This article will primarily focus on choosing the right technical college; one that will enable you to find work as a computer repair service technician, network technician, IT help desk operator or similar job.
In most cities there will be at least several different choices of technical schools that offer computer repair services training. The correct order to begin your selection process is to first make the decision to go back to school and then set about deciding which school to attend. Do not simply go in to meet with one of the schools recruiting agents and count on them to provide you with all the information you need regarding the schools merits. Doing so could put you at risk of losing your investment of time and money in a technical school education that does not produce a good job for you in the end. Any business needs to continue to sell its services to survive and technical colleges are no different. For this reason it is important to realize that the school’s career recruiter is a salesperson for that particular school and is not likely to tell you anything that might influence you to go someplace else. Ironically this author has seen many people put more independent research into buying a used car than in selecting where to get their education. When going back to school to become a computer repair service technician it is important to realize that not all schools are created equal- some provide skills and certifications that will more easily transition you into a good paying job than others.
The first thing you need to consider is what employers are looking for. You should start by selecting several different companies that you would consider the ideal place that you’d like to work when you finish school. If you could start a computer services career anyplace that you wanted to then where would you want to work? These are the places that you need to contact for advice on which school they favor or has provided them in the past with the most qualified candidates. When calling you can ask to speak with the HR manager, or the manager of the department in which you’d like to work. Simply tell them that you respect their company and hope to work there some day in a computer services job and that you are looking for their advice on which school that they think is best. Most managers will be flattered that you are asking for their opinion and you will find that most (if not all) of them will be more than willing to speak with you and give advice about which schools have provided them with the most qualified computer workers. Most managers will have some very strong opinions about the computer technical colleges in their area but may be reluctant to say anything negative about any of them, so take careful note of which school they seem to favor. This is the most valuable information you will get in your search since once you complete your degree and begin your job search you will want to have gone to a school that is favorable in the eyes of your prospective employers. If they have had great success with employees that attended one particular college then having that school on your resume will lend you credibility. Likewise if they have had hired employees from another school and found them to be lacking in certain necessary skills, then having that school on your resume may be a barrier that you will have to overcome prior to getting a job offer from that company.
The second most important thing to consider is certifications. Certifications from Microsoft are highly valuable when trying to land a job in the computer services field since they guarantee a level of proficiency that a diploma all by itself does not. If you are looking for a job as a computer repair service technician then you will want to make sure that by the time you graduate you are at the minimum a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). The highest level of Microsoft Certification is called MCSE or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer-ideally you want to be an MCSE but for most purposes an MCP is enough to get you an entry-level job in computer repair. Certifications are also important because they are universally understood by employers. You can go anywhere in the country and while the employers there may not have heard of the technical school that you went to, they will know that you are guaranteed to be proficient with Microsoft products since Microsoft has certified it. Many schools offer certification as part of their curriculum but what’s important to know is whether they require or guarantee it. Computer repair schools with lower standards will often have certifications listed as optional within their programs which is definitely a cause for concern. At the best technical schools certifications will be mandatory. At first it may sound good to hear that certification is optional however many lower level technical schools will make the certifications “optional” as a way to compensate when many of their graduates are lacking the necessary skills to obtain them. If you attend a school that requires mandatory certifications you will know in advance that by the time you graduate you will have all the necessary skills to obtain a good paying position in the computer repair field.
The last thing to consider is that you may need to contact a number of different technical schools in order to find one that meets your needs. It is important to remember that you are the one interviewing the school and that while you have decided to go to back to school, you haven’t yet decided that you want to go to their school. While it is true that you will need to apply and be accepted prior to attending, the technical school is a business and they need a continual flow of students to stay in business. Based on this authors personal experience it is very rare for a prospective student to not be accepted at a technical college so don’t be taken in by any particular recruiter who tries to turn the tables on you by telling you that they aren’t sure if you’re qualified to attend. That is a common tactic that career recruiters use to get you filling out applications and paperwork. If you are to make sure you have the best possible chance at obtaining the job you want in the computer repair field you will need to interview the college first and make sure that it meets all of your needs prior to filling out any forms.
Entry-level computer repair services jobs generally pay well and can be an excellent gateway position that will later lead you into more advanced computer jobs such as project management, network engineering and server technician, but to get there you will first need to play your cards right by choosing the right school that will ensure you the ability to get your foot in the door.