If you enjoy working with technology and people, a career as an IT technician may be a good fit. This job is exciting as it involves a wide range of duties, including working with new technology and troubleshooting when solving IT-related issues. Learning about the responsibilities of an IT technician and the education and experience requirements can help you decide if it's the right job for you. In this article, we describe the duties of an IT technician and provide a short overview of steps you can take to become one.
What is an IT technician?
IT technicians either provide general desktop and printer support for a company and/or its clients, or they provide network support. Network IT technicians install networking equipment, such as routers and switches, as well as cabling. They regularly monitor networks to ensure that they are running optimally and that no problems are slowing down a network's performance.
Desktop support technicians install computers and other IT equipment like printers and copiers, as well as operating systems and relevant software. They also ensure that new computers and laptops can communicate with each other and relevant servers on a network. Also, these technicians support staff by assisting them with computer-related problems and training them on new systems and software as needed.
IT technicians with more experience may install servers and monitor server systems by running system checks, performing backups and ensuring that antivirus programs are running and updating regularly. Senior network technicians also help with the design of networks and the actual configuration of switches and routers.
What does an IT technician do?
There are many facets to the job of a desktop or network IT technician, including:
- Installing network cabling and other network equipment like routers and switches
- Installing workstations and other equipment like printers
- Installing desktop operating systems and programs
- Connecting all workstations to the network and relevant servers
- Providing staff with technical support and training
- Installing servers, server operating systems and relevant server programs
- Monitoring and testing networks to ensure that they are running optimally
- Configuring routers and switches
- Monitoring servers to ensure that they are running optimally
- Monitoring server backups to ensure that these take place regularly and correctly
- Responding to client requests
- Monitoring workstation backups and antivirus updates
- Performing troubleshooting to isolate problems
How to become an IT technician
There is more than one way to become an IT technician. Some technicians have no formal education and entered the field due to their practical knowledge of computers and networks. However, formal education may impress employers and could give you an advantage over other candidates when applying for a job. Here is one path you can take if you want to become an IT technician:
- Gain a high school degree.
- Earn an associate or bachelor's degree.
- Gain professional certification.
- Get on-the-job experience.
1. Gain a high school degree
The first step you need to take if you want to become an IT technician is to finish high school and obtain your high school diploma. It would be advantageous to take computer-related subjects if your school offers these. For instance, some schools have classes in computer repair and operating systems.
2. Earn an associate or bachelor's degree
This is not a required step to become an IT technician, however, gaining formal education will help your chances of receiving a job offer. An Associate Degree in Information Technology can be useful as it covers areas that are relevant to the job, such as system administration, networking, technical support, database administration and IT security. However, you could also opt for a Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems, which is a four-year program that also offers relevant coursework in subjects like operating systems, database administration, networks and programming.
3. Gain professional certification
Employers often seek IT certifications that show your proficiency and dedication to the field, such as networking or desktop support. Most certification courses do not require formal education, which means you can earn a credential without going to college. There are many different kinds of certification courses you can choose from, but here are a few popular ones:
CompTIA A+ certification
This certification shows that you have the basic knowledge to support an IT infrastructure. This includes the ability to configure and support the most popular operating systems, like Windows, Linux and Mac, as well as mobile systems like Android and iOS, and computer hardware.
CompTIA Network+ certification
A CompTIA Network+ qualification demonstrates a candidate's ability to design and implement networks, configure network devices and manage network security.
There is a wide range of Microsoft certifications to choose from, for instance, MCSA: Windows Server 2016, MTA: Windows Operating System Fundamentals and MTA: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals.
4. Get on-the-job experience
Although formal training and certification can give you foundational knowledge, on-the-job experience is a useful way to most of the aspects of being an IT technician. The best way to gain experience is to ask a senior IT technician or engineer if they could mentor you or if you can shadow them as they work.
Related: What Is On-The-Job Training?
IT technician average salary
The salaries of IT technicians vary depending on their level of experience, the kind of company they work for and their location. In general, however, the average salary that an IT technician earns is $76,340 per year. Some IT technicians also receive additional benefits, such as tuition reimbursement and professional development assistance.
Where do IT technicians work?
IT technicians can either work for an IT company, in which case they will monitor the network and computers of the company and sometimes the company's clients. Most IT technicians are in-house technicians, which means they respond to client issues by driving to the clients, seeing to their IT-related issues and then driving back to the office. However, an IT company can also outsource their IT technicians, which means that they are based at a client's premises for a prolonged period, which may be months or even years.
A company, school or college may also hire its own IT technicians to provide in-house network and desktop support. As remote support is becoming increasingly possible, an IT technician can also perform many duties from a remote location.
In general, the industries that employ the most IT technicians are:
- Computer system design and related services
- Educational systems
- Data processing, hosting and related services