Computer Support Service Owners Career
The owners of computer support services help businesses and individuals install and maintain computer hardware and software. They offer advice on what computers to purchase; they teach how to operate computers; and they assist with computer problems as they arise. There are approximately 518,000 computer support specialists in the industry, including technicians and entrepreneurs. Computer consultants either work out of their homes, or they rent office space. Though some of their assistance is offered over the phone, much of their work is performed on-site.
Computer Support Service Owners Job Description
If your computer’s not working, the problem may be simply that you have forgotten to plug in the machine. But it can be much more complicated than that, requiring the assistance of someone with a great deal of computer knowledge. Today’s hardware and software are easier to use than in previous years, but can be difficult to install correctly and difficult to learn. Computer support service owners use their computer expertise to help businesses and individuals buy new computers and ready them for daily use.
With their operations based in their home office, computer support service owners take calls from new clients, as well as clients who regularly rely on their services. Clients may have problems with their printers not responding to computer commands; a computer may be locked up; they may have problems performing the particular functions their software is designed for. In some cases, support service owners are able to diagnose the problem and offer assistance over the phone. But in most cases, they are required to go to the offices and work hands-on with the computer systems. Armed with a cell phone, pager, and laptop, they drive to the offices of businesses small and large and the homes of personal computer owners to help get the computers running again. They will install network systems and new hardware and software. They upgrade existing systems. Computer support service owners also teach the computer operators how to use the new systems, either one on one or in group training sessions. They advise on the purchase of hardware and software, and can prepare backup methods.
Many computer consultants also offer their expertise in Web design and multimedia for uploading a Web page, preparing a presentation, and offering desktop publishing services. They also help to create computer databases. Some computer consultants are involved in issues of programming.
Brad Crotteau started his own computer support service in 1991, and his business has grown into Crocker Networking Solutions Inc. He anticipated that some of the demands of the job would become more difficult as he got older, so he recently made some decisions about the nature of his business. “I knew I didn’t always want to be crawling around, plugging computers in,” he says. So Crotteau incorporated his business and took on a staff of nine employees, including technicians, sales people, administrative assistants, trainers, and Web designers.
Crotteau’s day starts early at 7:00 a.m. with paperwork, followed at around 8:00 a.m. by phone calls from businesses. He then must work the new requests for service into his daily schedule. Though he has a staff of nine, Crotteau is still actively involved in the technical work of installing systems and troubleshooting, and the generating of estimates and other financial details. He makes it a point to end his workday at 6:00 p.m., though he is required to work some overtime. “I have stayed up until 4:00 a.m.,” he says, “bringing a service up for a client, but that’s rare.” His client base consists of businesses with between five and 85 personal computers. The biggest challenge can be correcting user-generated problems. Crotteau says giving an inexperienced computer user a complex system “is like giving a Maserati to someone who just started riding horses a few weeks ago.”
Crotteau’s support service is also embarking on a new business venture. He has trademarked many of his company’s services, and now offers them as a product called “Performance Net.” His company sells the network systems, and then puts the systems into place. This venture has been helped along by a business alliance with a manufacturer of software. Crotteau’s company has been hired by the manufacturer to install their servers in businesses all across the country.
In addition to technical work, the owners of computer support services must handle all the details of running their businesses. They handle phone calls, bookkeeping, and client records. They must also research new technologies and keep up to date on advanced technical skills. Maintaining connections within the industry is also important; computer support system owners may need to call upon the assistance of other consultants and technicians to help with some projects.
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