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A computer repair track

Consider a computer science degree or an A+ certification as your foundation for repairing computers. Then get training from the manufacturers.

Dear Molly: I’m interested in repairing computers. What field of IT should I concentrate on and what classes should I take in school?

Molly says: What you need is a good foundation of knowledge about how computers and peripherals work, plus training and hands-on experience with the major brands. You also need to decide if you want to learn how to fix mainframe computers and/or workstations and personal computers. There are still mainframes out there, believe it or not, but it’s hard to find someone who knows how to fix them. I think you could find good career opportunities in mainframe and desktop computer repair.

To get your foundation, nothing will look better on your resumé than a four-year degree in computer science. You may not need all the classes to understand what is going on inside a computer, but unless you want to remain a service technician for decades, you’ll need a degree.

If you already have a degree or you don’t want to spend the time getting one, the A+ certification from CompTIA is a good foundation in computer service fundamentals. The certification is intended for someone with at least six months of related experience, but you could train now and get the certification later.

Once you have your foundation in place, it’s time to start focusing on specific product lines. The companies that make the equipment are the best sources of this kind of training, so check out their Web sites. They may hire you and train you on the job or offer training courses that are open to anyone. Hewlett-Packard and IBM, for example, have training programs for their computers and peripherals.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at

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