Computer, ATM, and office machine repairers install, fix, and maintain many of the machines that businesses, households, and other consumers use.

Duties

Computer, ATM, and office machine repairers typically do the following:

  • Travel to customers' locations in response to service requests
  • Communicate with customers to determine the source of a problem
  • Perform administrative tasks, such as completing work order forms
  • Use a variety of tools, such as a multimeter, to help diagnose problems
  • Replace malfunctioning machine parts, such as video cards in desktop computers or keypads on ATM machines
  • Install large equipment, such as mainframe computers or ATMs
  • Test newly installed systems to make sure they work properly
  • Explain the basic functions of machines and equipment to customers
  • Provide preventive maintenance, such as cleaning the internal parts of machines

In most cases, machines do not break down entirely. Often just one broken part can keep a machine from working properly. Repairers fix machines by replacing these parts and other defective equipment because it is often less expensive than replacing the entire machine. They work with a number of advanced diagnostic tools and techniques, and use technology to test various processes and evaluate results. For example, they may remotely access a computer to run diagnostic tests.

Although the work of computer, ATM, and office machine repairers is very similar, the exact tasks differ depending on the type of equipment. For example, computer repairers replace desktop parts, such as a motherboard, in case of hardware failure. ATM repairers may replace a worn magnetic head on a card reader to allow an ATM to recognize customers’ bank cards. Office machine repairers replace parts of office machines that break down from general wear and tear, such as the printheads of inkjet printers.

Some repairers have assigned areas where they do preventive maintenance on a regular basis.

Computer repairers service and repair computer parts, network connections, and computer equipment, such as an external hard drive or computer monitor. Computer repairers must be familiar with various operating systems and commonly used software packages. Some work from repair shops, while others travel to customers' locations.

ATM repairers install and repair automated teller machines and, increasingly, electronic kiosks. They generally work with a network of ATMs and travel to ATM locations when they are alerted to a malfunction.

Office machine repairers fix machinery at customers’ workplaces because these machines are usually large and stationary, such as office printers or copiers. Office machines often need preventive maintenance, such as cleaning, or replacement of commonly used parts as they break down from general wear and tear.

Work Environment

Computer, ATM, and office machine repairers held about 133,100 jobs in 2012. They mostly worked for private businesses, but about 14 percent were self-employed.

Computer and office machine repairers work in air-conditioned and well-ventilated offices because computers and office machines are sensitive to extreme temperatures and humidity.

ATM repairers work in various environments depending on the location of an ATM. Some ATMs are outdoors, while others are indoors, such as in lobbies of buildings.

Some repairers, called field technicians, work onsite and have to travel to various locations to install, maintain, or repair a customer’s equipment. Other repairers, called bench technicians, work in repair shops. In smaller companies, repairers may work both in repair shops and at customers' locations. Some companies provide only onsite repair and operate without a traditional shop.

In the course of fixing machinery, repairers often must lift equipment and work in a variety of postures, although it is not usually strenuous.

Work Schedules

Most computer, ATM, and office machine repairers work full time. Some occasionally work evenings, weekends, and holidays to maintain machines that may break down.

Education and Training

Knowledge of electronics is essential for computer, ATM, and office machine repairers. Most workers take some postsecondary classes, although some who can demonstrate knowledge may be hired with a high school diploma. Strong communication and customer-service skills are important because these workers often interact with customers to figure out what needs to be repaired.

Education

Most computer, ATM, and office machine repairers take some classes after high school. This is especially important for ATM repairers who work on complex machines. Prospective workers may take postsecondary classes in computers and electronics, network hardware configuration, electrical engineering, machine repair, or computer/digital technology.

In these classes students learn how to troubleshoot major issues, such as discovering which part is causing a machine to malfunction. A basic understanding of mechanical equipment is important because many of the parts that fail in office machines and ATMs, such as paper loaders, are mechanical. Those who do not take college classes may gain this knowledge though military training or high school vocational classes.

Training

Repairers typically have some experience with electronics before they are hired. However, because the tools they use vary by specialty, repairers usually get some company-specific training on the job to become familiar with diagnostic tools, such as proprietary software. As new tools and technology become available, repairers will typically attend classes that teach how to use and apply these tools.

In some cases, entry-level repairers with limited knowledge and experience will get on-the-job training from more experienced mentors. Newly hired repairers may work on problems that are less complex, such as doing preventive maintenance on machines. However, with experience, they can advance to positions where they maintain more sophisticated systems.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Various organizations offer certification for computer, ATM, and office machine repairers. For example, the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA) offers more than 80 certification programs in numerous electronics specialties for varying levels of competence. Certification from equipment manufacturers is also available.

To become certified, applicants must meet several prerequisites and pass a comprehensive written or online exam. Certifications show a level of competency, and they can make an applicant more attractive to employers or increase an employee’s opportunity for advancement.

Advancement

Over time, repairers become experts in their specialty and may train entry-level repairers. They may also move into management positions where they supervise other repairers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Repairers often face problems with no standard solution. They must use logic, reasoning, and their experience to evaluate different possible solutions.

Communication skills. Repairers must be able to communicate effectively with customers because they work closely with customers to understand the problems with a machine.

Dexterity. Repairers must be able to make precise, coordinated movements with their fingers or hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

Troubleshooting skills. Workers find, diagnose, and repair problems. They devise methods to run tests to determine the cause of problems. They solve the problem to repair the equipment.

Pay

The median annual wage for computer, ATM, and office machine repairers was $36,620 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,490, and the top 10 percent earned more than $57,960.

Most computer, ATM, and office machine repairers work full time. Some occasionally work evenings, weekends, and holidays to maintain machines that may break down.

Job Outlook

Employment of computer, ATM, and office machine repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Remote diagnostic software will result in repairers becoming more productive, limiting overall employment growth. For example, when repairers are able to diagnose and troubleshoot problems remotely, the need for on-site service calls decreases.

In some cases, replacing computers or other office equipment will be more cost-effective than having them repaired. However, office machine repairers will continue to see demand for their services as costly office equipment, such as high-volume printers, continue to break down and need preventive maintenance.

Computer repairers will see continued demand for their services as computer parts need replacing or organizations need hardware upgrades. As companies modernize and use advanced technology in their day-to-day operations, computer repairers will continue to see employment opportunities.

However, increasing use of electronic banking is causing a decline in the demand for new ATMs, which may result in a decreased need for ATM repairers.  

Job Prospects

Job opportunities will be best for workers with training or experience in electronics.

For More Information

For more information about careers in computer repair, visit

Association of Computer Repair Business Owners

For more information about electronic careers and certification, visit

Electronics Technician Association International

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

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