Continuing Education: Be on the Giving Side of Tech Support

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In today's technology-dependent world, information technology professionals and computer technicians can be a godsend-just think of the Geek Squad or those geniuses at the Apple Store's genius bar-who can cure whatever ails your computer before you have a chance to go into withdrawal. Now, with a growing number of courses in computer technology on offer from different institutions in New York City, you too can become a member of the computer doctor elite. The only question you have to ask yourself is this: Do you have the computer savvy to learn the secret methods to battle glitches like the spinning circle of death?

In order to enroll in a program to become a computer technician, you should already have a working knowledge of how to operate a computer. You should know how to create different types of documents, browse the Internet and compose an email. A healthy curiosity about "how the PC works internally and what it takes to deal with its common problems" is also a plus, according to the program description for a computer technician course at Hunter College.

Most often, people who enroll in such courses are pursuing a career as an IT professional or are already in the PC repair business. These courses cover basic knowledge about the workings of the computer, software/operating system variants, networking, the Internet, assembly and disassembly of the PC, malfunctions, viruses, troubleshooting and customer support. Many of the areas covered are those that aspiring technicians will be tested on when taking CompTIA certification tests. CompTIA, the information technology industry association, offers a variety of certifications within the field, the most common and basic of which are the A and Networks certifications.

"CompTIA A measures the necessary competencies of an entry-level IT professional with a recommended 500 hours of hands-on experience in the lab or field. It tests for technical understanding of computer technology, networking and security, as well as the communication skills and professionalism now required of all entry-level IT professionals," reads a statement on the CompTIA website.

A certification is proof of competence in areas such as installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting. The two requirements for CompTIA A certification are the A Essentials and Practical Application exams. CompTIA Network certification proves knowledge of networking features and functions and is the leading vendor-neutral certification for networking professionals. All certification exams are 90 minutes long and consist of 100 questions.

There are a few different courses and programs offered in New York that you can take to prepare for these exams and become a computer technician or IT professional. City University of New York offers a number of computer technology courses in its continuing education programs at Hunter College, New York City College of Technology and Medgar Evers College. A high school diploma or a GED is required for entry in these courses.

The computer technician certificate program at Hunter College consists of two courses and introduces students to the basic concepts and mechanics of PC support, with a emphasis on concepts at the first level and on mechanics at the second level. Classes meet in the evenings and the full certificate program package costs $1,300-or, separately, each level costs $700.

New York City College of Technology offers classes geared specifically toward preparation for CompTIA exams. The A certification test prep course costs $790, with an additional $120 for textbook and personal tools. The Networking Technologies course also costs $790, with $70 for textbook expenses. The Computer Technology Institute at Medgar Evers College offers courses in the basic computer programs you should be familiar with before enrolling in the more advanced classes, though they not actual prerequisites. CUNY courses are offered every semester and tuition can be paid either at once or on a set payment plan.

PC Tech vocational and technical school in New York City offers a variety of computer classes, both part time and full time. Among them is a part-time CompTIA A class that meets over the course of four weeks, either two nights a week or on Saturdays, and costs $399 for 28 hours. A full-time CompTIA A class meets Monday through Friday mornings for three weeks and costs $750 for 54 hours.

Other centers offering courses and training in computer and information technology are NetCom Information Technology, Ace Computer Training and Technology Career Services. And if you cannot afford to pay for such courses, the Per Scholas Institute for Technology in the South Bronx offers free intensive technology training to people in lowincome communities. Per Scholas covers the cost of both tuition and books and even offers job placement services for students.

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