Do I need to be Qualified?

The big question for many young tech-heads looking to make something of themselves is do I need to be qualified. High schools pump it into their heads that they must get good grades and go onto a good University to work in the computer industry. Are they right? Read on.

So, do I need to be qualified? Well, that depends on what you want to do. If your goal is to climb up the corporate ladder and become the head technician for some large school like Technibble’s friend Robert Gail, then yes, you need to be qualified.

Unfortunately, many employment agencies use official qualifications as a way to filter out candidates. If you arent qualified then they dont forward your resume onto big businesses much to the annoyance of some techies who are highly experienced, but not qualified. So if you want to get noticed, get qualified.
However, if you have your own business (or plan to start one) then that is a totally different issue. In my 6 years of having my own business I have had only about 6 people ask me what my qualifications are. People aren’t going to buy computers from you because you have a A+ or MSCE certificate. Hell, most people dont even know what they are. They are going to buy computers from you because you showed up and sold it to them.

I am sure most of you have had a “professional” come to your house and hook up your internet, install a light fitting or fix your plumbing and you never asked him what his qualifications are, its enough that he arrives on time and gets the job done properly.

What does matter much more than any qualifications when you are dealing with the public is how you look. You may be unqualified and on your first day as a freelancer but if you look the part, they will think you are a pro. I personally go to jobs with neat short hair, tightly trimmed beard (I don’t shave it totally off because I look too young), collared work shirt, work pants and dress shoes. If I combine that with my technicians bag of goodies then I really look like I know what I am doing regardless of whether I actually do or not.



Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (17)

  • So, if I understand you correctly… perception, much like possession, is 9/10′ths the law. It’s that other tenth that ya gotta be ready for, eh?

    Certified, qualified”¦ or not. If you want to do the job, you’d better know what you’re doing. Too many people are all too quick to sue if you make as much as one small irreversible mistake.

    So, you wind up in court and have to answer to the judge who will no doubt inquire about your qualifications/certifications before anything else.

    While the certs don’t mean you can practically apply the book knowledge, they do communicate to the world that you know what you’re doing. Well, those who know what/who Comptia and the other certification authorities are.

  • Youngwun0 says:

    True, i know a little something something about computers but i am still going to take my A+ hopefully soon so that i am ahead of the game, not that there’s anything wrong with techs not having one but i’d rather be prepared (myself) 1 thing i do not like is that now a days you not only have to be qualified but also very experienced, i mean sure you don’t want a dunce doing work for you but i see alot of ad’s not only asking for the A+ but also 2-4 years college and 2-3 years work experience in the field, i’m 18 and fresh out of school so i have no professional job experience in tech jobs so it makes things much harder on me oh well :p

  • gunslinger says:

    I agree with most of what has been said here. I will have to disagree on a few points. Its true that in doing computer repair/building full time from my home shop in the last 5 years I have never been asked once what my qualifications are. Its far more important if you want to work for a company. As far as winding up in court? This will most likely never happen with an individual if you screw up ( unless maybe it results in a house fire). On the other hand it will most certainly happen at some point if all of your work is for businesses. That being said I do feel the need to obtain more certs. Why? For personal growth, and just in case I ever need to go to work for a company. I do have a problem with ppl thinking the more certs you have the more you know. This is not true at all. It just means you went to school longer. Who would you want working on your car? The guy right out of auto school with the certs, or the guy that has been fixing cars longer than you have been alive? This may not seem fair to those right out of school but its just the way things are. If you go out and make a name for yourself , business will come. It just takes time. Don’t expect to make top dollar right out of school just because you have paperwork .

  • Hank says:

    I only have an A.A.S. in CIS which leans more toward design and consultation. I have been doing all kinds of computer work since before college. I am working toward a B.S. now and there is no real reason then to have it other then to look good on a resume. I also hope to get some certifications as well sometime in the future.

  • Don says:

    well am a technician, workng for a company, an am not that qaulified, in terms of having a BB s and A+, but what i know, is i hav alot of experience in this career, i started from the age of 12, when i got my first computer. i went into all files and folders, i even opened the pc to see whats inside.

    in doing so i burnt about 2 computers,.lol but for sure that mistake i did, causing the power supply to burn will not happen again. lol…

  • santiago says:

    I think there must be some equilibrium between your knowledge (certs, self-study,college) and experience even more in this business where new technologies come every time you blink. In my case, I did a huge research-self study work to know how things work at least at the fundamental level before going into the prime-time (getting a job), however it’s impossible to know always exactly what to do given the amount of variables in this area. But that’s precisely one of the skills every PC tech has to have, to learn and apply in real-time.
    I agree certs are more relevant on the enterprise side, but you can use them to make yourself more trusty to your clients if you tell them your cert it’s actually a proof that what you do it’s not only based on experience or trial & error but also on fundamental & proven knowledge.

  • Walter says:

    I have a question, because well it turns out that i went to job corps to get my certification. Of course i read the book and tried to understand everything it was talking about. I’ve actually have had some minor computer repair training before i joined, and did some side stuff in high school, but I’m not too sure of my self as a technician yet. I passed the test with a good score in comparison with those of my classmates but i still don’t feel that i know enough to be a honest to goodness tech. I know my stuff and i know how to improve a system abit, but it just seems like i didnt improve much. Should i really go ahead and study more about computer repair? Also, i started reading up on networks which i am beginning to feel as if it will be something that i will most likely end up doing as a career.

  • Cole says:

    Walter, we all feel sometimes that maybe we

  • Abigail says:

    I like what you say that our first look will give more plus value to our qualification. Even, qualification is more refer to our skill, or to what inside our head, I agree with you that at the beginning we can convince others from our outlooking. But, of course don’t count to it too long…

  • Well, I got the A+ and the Network+ certs and it’s been suggested I get MS certs and some vendor certs. The problem seems to be that some regard certs and some do not. Even having an Associates in IT doesn’t seem to mean that much. Technical training is for nothing if no one trusts what has been put into you. Experience trumps credentials, but the experience is hard to get. It also seems that more experienced tech folks are not impressed with certs and are into an everyman for himself, survival of the fittest kind of mindset. With any technology, when it becomes mainstream, the knowledge about it is formalized so that it can be taught to the up and coming. What do you do when the whole geeky, nerdy, techie and guru culture that started the computer revolution begins to age? Can you older techies download all your knowhow and experience into a new techie and expect them to pick up where you left off? Somebody eventually is gonna have ta let the new guys begin to accumulate hands on experience to make the credentials worth the paper they are printed on. Businesses are going to have to go back to grooming tech employees. Schools only give you a general education. It’s not the new guy’s fault that IT is such a broad field.

  • Jay says:

    I personally have no certifications, even left college before finishing my Networking certification, and I see no need to waste money on them. Sure, it would be nice to say I have an A+ or MCSE certification but truthfully they’re just paper. My college years were spent correcting my teachers and helping people with no computer knowledge get good grades. I personally know people who have gotten an A+ certification, or are graduates of a Computer (Networking/Technician) degree, and I can run circles around them.

    There are too many people out there who are good studiers, can read and memorize a book from cover to cover, and still don’t have the expertise or experience to be a successful technician. If you weren’t already a hobbyist in computer repair don’t think that an A+ or MCSE certification will give you the tools you need. 50% of my technical knowledge came from sitting down with a well worn screwdriver and ripping apart old PC’s to see how they tick. The other 50% came from using them, every aspect of them, and most of the time breaking them to see how they could be fixed. My customers would take my first-hand experience over that of some big-name company’s $25/h technician any day of the week.

    I can’t begin to count the number of occasions where I’ve gone to a job and have found that the technician who was there before me, from another company, made things worse. These are A+ certified technicians! In some cases they’ve spent 4 hours screwing around with HijackThis, or reloaded Windows overtop of Windows to save backing up information. Let me make something clear. If part of your toolkit is HijackThis then I question your credentials, and your professionalism. Contrary to popular belief removing spyware will only cause instability in the OS, or other software on the computer, and be wasting the customer’s time and money. It’s the biggest case of fraud I’ve ever seen in the technicial industry.

    I have never once, in the 10 years of doing repair work, been asked what my credentials are. Know why? I GUARENTEE that I’ll have a diagnosis in 30 minutes, be able to perform repairs (baring part orders) in 2 hours, and that the problem won’t return (baring customer-induced damage) within a period of 90 days. In addition the only tools I need is a good antivirus, OS reload disks, a spare 20GB and 120GB hard drive (for data backup & restoration), and software to diagnose hardware problems. If you can’t run a successful repair business with those guidelines then you shouldn’t be waiting for your customer to question your credentials. You should question them yourself.

  • Jay says:

    Sorry for the second reply, I missed adding something to my first one.

    @10

    Being one of the “older” techs I would like to say that the mindset isn’t survival of the fittest, although it may look like that from the outside looking in. Our experience comes from doing things first hand, and that can’t be passed on through books or stories.

    Go out and scrounge up some old computers for $20-40. Install windows 98, ME, 2000, XP until you can do it in your sleep. Unfortunately for Vista you’ll need a new PC, but if you’re planning to start in the industry you should have one of those anyway. Break them and fix them over and over again until you recognize the problems without relying on some 3rd party program to tell you what’s wrong. Start networking them together to find out all of the problems and solutions you can come across. When you no longer need to go to other technicians to get troubleshooting tips you’re ready to join the industry.

    Here’s an idea… Instead of asking why older techs won’t hand down their information a better question should be asked. Why is IT the ONLY technical trade that doesn’t require an apprenticeship, when in reality it is the one that should demand it the most?

  • tim says:

    IMHO, you do need to be qualified but you don’t necessarily need to be certified. I agree that as someone who will be working for an employer or doing work for businesses, your experience and knowledge needs to be quantifiable. An organization needs a way of telling what you know and what kind of experience you have. As it turns out, certifications and classes taken are ways they often do this.

  • Robin says:

    I agree that most people have never heard of CompTIA A+ or any any of the other of the qualifications. However there is one exception. Everybody has heard of
    Microsoft and knows they are a big name in IT. I have the Microsoft IT Professional Consumer Support Technician certification and although nobody ever asks me whether I am certified or not when they see it on my business card almost everybody asks about it. I make sure I put that I am Microsoft certified on everything. I feel it increases a customers trust because they feel if the biggest IT company in the world trusts you then they should to.

  • Rich says:

    I know this is an old post but……..@Jay, can i have a job…….lol.

  • JT says:

    i’ve noticed people respect you and the job you do when you are Microsoft and Cisco Certified.which they may have obviously heard of their reputation.

    I am not comptia A+, N+ or whatever + certified because its pretty useless to have since you just learn stuff in books and take tests and the only thing i guess you need is to read technibble daily andd extend your knowledge on how to fix stuff with tools so i rarely get rl scenarios in A+ books which has nothing to do to do other than just need the experience with them.

    I know some people who are comptia certified and cant distinguish between a 478 and 775 cpu fan!

  • Randy says:

    I agree with you 100% on this subject. I have been working on computers for over 10 years and
    never worried about certifications until I tried to get a job for a company and was blacklisted. The information most of know, you are not taught in school. It takes hands on experience, the good and the bad to become a expert in this field. I strive my self to learn something new every day so as to stay on top the game. Thank you so much for allow me to voice my opinion. I love this web site!!