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Saponification

Calling all people who get paid to assemble and fix computers

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Putting the call out once again. This time in atomic.edu, I'll be looking at techs: be they self-employed or working for an organisation. I'm interested in people who build, repair and maintain systems for individuals, businesses and even schools. I'm specifically looking for people who are paid money to do this. I'm sure a lot of us have repaired something for a relative or friend and received maybe a six pack (if that) in return, but I figure the pros can offer some unique advice drawn from experience.

 

You can answer the questions here or in private message, but I require a full name and some employment details so I can properly attribute your quotes. If you've seen the column before, you know the format (i.e. Ben Mansill, former editor of atomic; John Citizen, technician for the Education Department of Bosnia; Sally Smith, self-employed technician).

 

Thanks in advance to everyone who takes the time to throw me some answers.

 

Obviously no one individual can have all the solutions to all the problems. What skills and knowledge do you require?

 

Are any courses and qualifications particularly useful? (whether we're talking a Certificate or Diploma in IT, an industry qualification like A+/MCSE/CISCO or, for the self-employed, a qualification in running a business)

 

(for the self-employed) What do you need to know to survive and succeed in the industry? Is the market too crowded already?

 

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

 

How much room is there for moving upwards in the industry?

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I read this post four times and I sort of get what you are asking mate, but I am not quite sure what you want the information for, or how it is to be used. Or indeed how answers to those questions will be of use, as some will say you need qualifications and others will be, say self employed, and have no qualifications except a lot of experience.

 

I guess what I am asking is a little more clarity for us old people who may be slow on the uptake. :)

Edited by bowiee

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I think that's what he's asking for. Finding out who's "successful" and how many qualifications they have.

 

I proudly, have none :)

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i actually have a job interview for IT technician on monday. they're offering a traineeship that will cover certificiate III in information and technology.

 

i have no formal qualifications and i aint the hardware guru, but certainly wouldn't mind learning.

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Cert 3 in IT, No uni

 

9 years in the IT industry, Currently a Microsoft systems administrator, exchange, crm, SharePoint & lovely crap like that

 

After hours, I’m my friend’s first port of call for PC issues, I use and install logmein, so I can test and fix their issues remotely , as long as they have net access

 

As for building PC/Servers, I deal with everything, IBM 3650s 3850s, desktops, laptops etc etc

 

The worst part is educating users, I see it this way, u need a licence to drive a car which is quite simple to use and get, but with PCs, u don’t need one, I swear everyone who buys a PC should get a licance, or some formal training from the seller before they use them because u can certainly do damage to your PC, let alone personnel information if ur not to careful

 

Once of the really bad parts is, pulling down a machine, and putting it back to gether, and fingers cross that it works LOL

 

As for moving upwards, the skies the limit if u apply ur self to where u want to be

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I have Certificate III in Network Management, and Certificate IV Network Administration. However I am regrettably unemployed atm. Looking at getting into something else while I wait for the industry to pick up again in my area.

 

Don't know if you'd be interested in my opinions but......

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I have Certificate III in Network Management, and Certificate IV Network Administration. However I am regrettably unemployed atm. Looking at getting into something else while I wait for the industry to pick up again in my area.

 

Don't know if you'd be interested in my opinions but......

Coles and woolies are always hiring.

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I have Certificate III in Network Management, and Certificate IV Network Administration. However I am regrettably unemployed atm. Looking at getting into something else while I wait for the industry to pick up again in my area.

 

Don't know if you'd be interested in my opinions but......

Coles and woolies are always hiring.

 

No need to be a douche.

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Hmmm....

 

 

Well, I work for a SME and started on the helpdesk as a phone monkey with as much knowledge of PCs as a lot of people here have, that was over 6 years ago, since then I have worked my way up the ladder to Operations Manager. Along the road I got my Diploma in IT (Network Systems) from TAFE, did a heap of troubleshooting and googling and just learning how stuff works mostly on my own and jumping on mailing lists and the like.

These days instead of changing peoples passwords I build the systems behind the apps - from buying new servers and storage to networking gear, to upgrading databases and operating systems, releasing new internally built applications for customers, scripting up things for internal use or trying to eek that last bit of performance out of a machine till we can afford an upgrade.

 

 

Most of my skills can't be learnt from a course mostly because FOSS stuff isn't taught a great deal in institutions beyond RHCE (and *maybe* Solaris), plus being at a small company you don't have training budgets. Instead a lot of the skills in my area of IT tend to come from lots and lots and lots of DIY.

Certifications like Cisco, Oracle, VMWare or MCSE can be a benefit but in my experience it is mostly larger companies that can pay higher wages that attract those with lots of certification. They are still a great way to get started and get some experience - if you can afford the course that is!

 

And of course there are the non-book skills. Most important I'd say are attention to detail because even a tiny misconfiguration can ruin a system, a desire to understand things and not just be content with knowing which box to tick but what that tick box actually does, and the willingness to pull stuff apart until you do understand it because when things break and you are on your own that is the best way to learn and fix the problem.

 

Experience is also a huge factor as there really is nothing better than getting down and dirty with a technology, no matter of reading manuals will beat that in my books.

 

 

Best parts of the job? Probably playing with cool stuff! Even if you don't have top of the range kit like other Atomicans play with at work, pulling together bits and pieces together to build something you're impressed with is just heaps of fun and an awesome way to learn. Or fixing that issue that has been frustrating you for weeks on end, sorting it out is a great feeling plus again you've learnt a heap more new skills to fix it.

 

Worst parts? When stuff breaks. When you have people hassling you to fix something they broke (PEBKAC sucks). In the SME end of town; Not having the money to keep up with the times and leaving you with a main database server running on a single core 1.28GHz CPU and nursing that through an upgrade over multiple weekends. Some of the after hours work can be a hassle too, especially on a Sunday morning at 0400 in a cold data centre.

 

 

Room to move? If you are in the right place at the right time you can go far, skills will always matter in the end though. Unless you are experienced I feel it pays to suck it up and start low and work your way up, you get a better appreciation and understand of how things work and you can make smarter decisions for yourself, your employer and your customers.

 

 

Again, this is all personal views.

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Sounds pretty awesome iamthemaxx how old are you now if you don't mind me asking?

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I'm a "Computer Assistant" for some state schools in Queensland, I started there in 1995, almost 10 years after leaving high school. It's an unqualified position, and so doesn't pay very well.

I've attempted a Diploma of Information Technology twice, each time I came undone trying to do the project management subjects.

 

Obviously no one individual can have all the solutions to all the problems. What skills and knowledge do you require?

Patience, a solid troubleshooting methodology, ability to apply known methods to lesser known issues. My position requires knowledge of Microsoft Windows desktop and server operating systems, not in-depth, but enough to operate the systems, and troubleshoot issues. Basic network knowledge is also required, I can handle most local issues, but wider issues I refer to systechs or service centre.

 

Are any courses and qualifications particularly useful? (whether we're talking a Certificate or Diploma in IT, an industry qualification like A+/MCSE/CISCO or, for the self-employed, a qualification in running a business)

Any related Cert/Diploma helps you to get employed and/or promoted. I guess, in my position, there's no requirement for specialised training, but you should get quals in areas you want to work in so you can move to the areas you like.

 

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

Best: I get to muck about with computers and software every day, sometimes I even get to setup new stuff.

Worst: wow, some of these schools still have 8 year old computers, and teachers constantly bug me about fixing them. Some teachers also want their favourite software installed on every computer, some of this software was designed for Win3.1 and Win95, and simply won't work without a lot of mucking around, if at all.

 

How much room is there for moving upwards in the industry?

I'm sort of stuck where I am without a qualification. There are opportunities to move to a more central area, and switch to the Administrative Officer stream.

 

I'm looking to apply for RPL for a TAFE course, in fact will be starting this process tomorrow morning.

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I have Certificate III in Network Management, and Certificate IV Network Administration. However I am regrettably unemployed atm. Looking at getting into something else while I wait for the industry to pick up again in my area.

 

Don't know if you'd be interested in my opinions but......

Coles and woolies are always hiring.

 

No need to be a douche.

 

I wasn't, I work for coles while I study IT at uni (been there over 4 years now), not sure why there is a stigma attached to working in those places, hell I could be a waiter and on minimum wage where I hope to god people pay me tips so I can make ends meat.

 

at the end of the day when you have no real special skills you can't afford to be picky imo or you end up on the centrelink lines.

Edited by nesquick

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I have Certificate III in Network Management, and Certificate IV Network Administration. However I am regrettably unemployed atm. Looking at getting into something else while I wait for the industry to pick up again in my area.

 

Don't know if you'd be interested in my opinions but......

Coles and woolies are always hiring.

 

No need to be a douche.

 

I wasn't, I work for coles while I study IT at uni (been there over 4 years now), not sure why there is a stigma attached to working in those places, hell I could be a waiter and on minimum wage where I hope to god people pay me tips so I can make ends meat.

 

at the end of the day when you have no real special skills you can't afford to be picky imo or you end up on the centrelink lines.

 

Apologies, I thought you were taking the piss out his certs.

Misread it obviously :P

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Obviously no one individual can have all the solutions to all the problems. What skills and knowledge do you require?

To be able to explain to people what is wrong and what needs fixing on their PC, or what hardware they need to do what they want, and to do it in terms they can understand.

Where to find various tools to fix PC issues and how to use them. Probably the most useful one is to know how to search the net with the right terms to find answers to problems you know little or nothing about.

 

 

 

Are any courses and qualifications particularly useful? (whether we're talking a Certificate or Diploma in IT, an industry qualification like A+/MCSE/CISCO or, for the self-employed, a qualification in running a business)

Got no quals and only done one part of Cert 2 because it was an external course (done from home). Although wouldn't mind getting a cabling licence, home networking seems to be popping it's head up a bit of late.

 

(for the self-employed) What do you need to know to survive and succeed in the industry? Is the market too crowded already?

Not earning enough from it for a living and it is more of a part time job (main income is farming) and due to being a rural area there is not a lot of work anyway.

Market as such is not crowded but there are plenty of people who know something about these computer thingies who do little fixes and stuff for free or for a few $$ cash in hand. I get to fix some of their mistakes at times :P.

 

 

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

Best? Getting a PC going when others had failed to.

Worst? People who ignore my advice on what to buy. I don't mind if they use my advice to buy elsewhere, but it gets right up my nose when they buy inappropriate hardware because it was cheaper than what I suggested then whinge and sook about it not doing what they want.

 

How much room is there for moving upwards in the industry?

Zero really as I just do consumer stuff and am a one man show. Suppose if I went and did some courses I might be able to get an IT job in town (at 53 and in Tassie? ye right :P).

Best I could hope for around here is working for one of the PC shops doing basically what I do now, but on a more regular basis.

 

 

Howzat Sap?

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I hear that if krudd's NBN goes ahead, they'll be after 15,000 odd cablers. My uncle is thinking of getting a cabling license, as it's the sort of work he'd love to do.

 

Mind you, I'm also thinking about it, but you'd have to be an independent contractor, (ABN, and crap)

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Super cool.

 

Frag: .edu is a column towards the back of the magazine.

 

SceptreCore: if you've worked in the industry before, sure.

 

smadge, aliali, iamthemaxx, tuner, darklord6661: super cool. Thanks.

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What skills and knowledge do you require?

Good communication skill can reduce your workload significantly. Too many problems can just come in as "It just broke". To work out how to engage the client in such a way as to get detailed information is critical to good problem solving. Otherwise, be prepared to spend a lot of time on google and reading event viewer messages.

 

Are any courses and qualifications particularly useful? (whether we're talking a Certificate or Diploma in IT, an industry qualification like A+/MCSE/CISCO or, for the self-employed, a qualification in running a business)

As a tech in an IT business. Qualifications are a piece of paper to rest your tools on and nothing more. If you want to do programming, engineering or whatever then the paper is important. At the end of the day half the qualifications out there are now cornflake packet material. Seriously. MCSE. Means nothing now.

 

(for the self-employed) What do you need to know to survive and succeed in the industry? Is the market too crowded already? (not self employed). Market is NOT too crowded. I'm overworked and we need more techs.

 

What are the best and worst parts of the job? Clients (to both the questions). You get the nice and bad. The person who thinks that because you are fixing their computer that they are more important than you (Read: Lawyers + Doctors. Few exceptions). But there are some clients who can brighten up your entire day. The one who admits they've cocked something up and tell you everything ([real quote] I accidentally uninstalled outlook. I don't know why. I just did. [end quote] for a client whose PC connects to an exchange server)

 

How much room is there for moving upwards in the industry? Tough question. From my point of view, my 'upwards' direction is directly tied to our contracts. If we have lots and plenty of income than my pay has more room to slide upwards. No money = no payrise. However, there is always room for good IT companies to start up. Being the boss of your own company is about as up as you can get I guess.

 

Sap: If these answers help, let me know and I'll scoot real details to you via PM. If they are going to be used for 'research only' and not quoted then don't worry.

 

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The one who admits they've cocked something up and tell you everything ([real quote] I accidentally uninstalled outlook. I don't know why. I just did. [end quote] for a client whose PC connects to an exchange server)

For some reason that reminds me of a customer who had a non-booting Windows install and when I told him I could save all his personal stuff he replied "don't bother saving the porn I can always download more". Made me smile as others insist I must fix their PC without looking at anything on it.

:-).

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I have Certificate III in Network Management, and Certificate IV Network Administration. However I am regrettably unemployed atm. Looking at getting into something else while I wait for the industry to pick up again in my area.

 

Don't know if you'd be interested in my opinions but......

Coles and woolies are always hiring.

 

No need to be a douche.

 

I wasn't, I work for coles while I study IT at uni (been there over 4 years now), not sure why there is a stigma attached to working in those places, hell I could be a waiter and on minimum wage where I hope to god people pay me tips so I can make ends meat.

 

at the end of the day when you have no real special skills you can't afford to be picky imo or you end up on the centrelink lines.

 

Thanks mate I will keep it in mind. I'm recalling a speech Bill Gates gave at a school somewhere. Said something about how our Forefathers called it "opportunity", and not wanting to flip burgers just because of your dignity isn't a good practice. Though he can talk, his dad was a lawyer, and his mum was a on the board for a bank, and her father was a president for a bank.

 

:) no offence taken.

 

Obviously no one individual can have all the solutions to all the problems. What skills and knowledge do you require?

 

Are any courses and qualifications particularly useful? (whether we're talking a Certificate or Diploma in IT, an industry qualification like A+/MCSE/CISCO or, for the self-employed, a qualification in running a business)

 

(for the self-employed) What do you need to know to survive and succeed in the industry? Is the market too crowded already?

 

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

 

How much room is there for moving upwards in the industry?

I used to be a "Monkey Out The Back". Technician for a local computer shop.

 

1. From what I have discovered is... Certifications count for very little in this industry. What it shows to employers mostly, is that you have been willing to put in the hard study time and effort for this type of career track. They know that theory and practice are night and day... but the theory will get you up to speed that much quicker, so it's still important. And nothing equates to experience... nothing. So I would say, don't be afraid to say you don't know all that much, but you know a bit, and your willing to learn. They like that (unless your applying for IT Administrator for national corp. :P). And starting at the bottom is always the best way in the IT industry.

 

2. Certificate III and IV are pretty much your entry level that will give you the edge over applicants that don't. For servicing or sales. Don't go for the basic though... do the networking, which is the same, but with more important stuff thrown in, like configuring and managing servers.

 

3. I wish I could be independent. While I have the skills, I don't have enough business experience, or know the first thing about running a business. So I would say, maybe a business course, and being familiar with accounting and business tax... MYOB experience couldn't hurt either. And IMO, the industry is quite crowded... experienced people look for places to get their foot in.

 

4. Best parts of the job, the amount of knowledge you get can pretty much give you job security wherever you decide to lay roots. (Unless you started off at the time of the GFC... and things kinda went south. :P) The money isn't bad either. And the worst I'm sure we could all agree, is dealing with humans. Non-nerds. They will give you headaches so get used to paracetamol, and codeine.

 

5. Always. There is bound to be a position when your ready to move up somewhere else. Or when the guy above you is leaving/moving up/getting the sack. Once your established it's much easier to learn new things, and get access to training and materials that would have otherwise been closed to you.

Edited by SceptreCore

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I have a friend in the 'corner shop' pc retail business, he performs out of warranty upgrades (mods) for lap tops. to perform the job you need to have on the job experience / experience with messing around home brew lap top mods.

 

Contact PC Master castle hill for full info, as i only know what he dose, not how he dose it.

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I have a friend in the 'corner shop' pc retail business, he performs out of warranty upgrades (mods) for lap tops. to perform the job you need to have on the job experience / experience with messing around home brew lap top mods.

 

Contact PC Master castle hill for full info, as i only know what he dose, not how he dose it.

I know that shop... That's near Castle Hill Maccas!! :D Although I have never been in there.

By the way, it's "does". :P

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I'm working as an RMA staff at a local distributor. PM me if you want the full details.

 

Obviously no one individual can have all the solutions to all the problems. What skills and knowledge do you require?

For my job, there's several things that you need to know. One is to organisational skills. If you've got it, you're probably more than capable of what I'm doing. An example is that you can easily work from 20 RMA jobs to over 200 batch RMA jobs. Usually, you don't need a IT degree to get in here. All you need are some common sense and as well as a good eye. Example, if a company sends back a motherboard, you need to visually inspect the board and after that, create a report which will be sent to the manufacturer. But some technical knowledge such as how to diagnose errors and so forth will be important.

 

Are any courses and qualifications particularly useful? (whether we're talking a Certificate or Diploma in IT, an industry qualification like A+/MCSE/CISCO or, for the self-employed, a qualification in running a business)

As long as you have some basic knowledge in fixing computers, that's one aspect of the job. However, you also need some qualifications. Cert III or IV will be sufficient. An IT or Engineering degree in computer science will undoubtedly make you extremely useful.

 

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

Good:

- You get to do as much as you want. Sometimes, you can take a few orders or if you're feeling brave, then you could take a batch order.

- Everyone seems to know everyone from other places so you're not alone in this.

 

Bad

- You can be strained for time in some orders such as batch RMA orders.

- It is very very repetitive. Don't even think of getting round to do anything remotely different.

- In the worst case scenario, you may be asked by the company to destroy the equipment. No joke. One company which I won't name, told me to junk some of the RMA equipment which was odd as most were easily repairable.

 

Ugly

- You'll constantly be hassled by the warehouse and as well as the management in terms of work done

- Customers can easily be a hassle to deal with if they don't submit the right report.

 

 

How much room is there for moving upwards in the industry?

Not a chance. You'll probably be stuck here doing this job. It's a tedious work. But it does present its challenges if you want one.

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