At some time almost every business finds themselves in need of professional assistance when it comes to their computer equipment and software. With so many companies offering computer repair, data recovery and other computer related services it can seem like a daunting task to find a computer service provider who can be trusted to properly manage the businesses technology assets and to keep the computer systems up and running correctly so that everyone can remain fully productive.
Unlike many professions such as law or medicine, there is no state or federal license required to practice computer service work. Virtually anyone at all can hang out their proverbial shingle, advertise, put up a flash web site and claim to be an expert. Without being an expert in the computer service field oneself it can be extremely difficult to spot the difference between a good computer repair technician who will know the solutions to computer issues that you are faced with and someone who is planning to try to figure things out as they go. For this reason, when preparing to hire a consultant to maintain and support your computer hardware and software it is of the utmost importance to know the different industry certifications and actually verify that the computer technician has them.
The gold standard in certification for computer service and networking professionals is what’s called MCSE. MCSE stands for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and to become MCSE certified the computer technician must have passed at least seven exams on topics ranging from workstations to servers to advanced networking. The MCSE certification often takes years to complete and proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual possesses a strong knowledge of the hardware and software that most businesses run on. While there may be many good computer and networking consultants who do not possess an MCSE certification, the certification proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have all of the required knowledge and skills to support virtually any business. In the IT field, MCSE is something that virtually all technicians and server administrators aspire to, but only a fraction actually get it. The tests are very difficult, have a high failure rate and are impossible to cheat on since they must be taken at a certified testing center where the test taker is required to present several forms of identification and closely monitored while taking it to ensure no notes, smart phones or study materials are brought into the testing area. For a computer, network or server technician having an MCSE certification is well respected, draws a much higher salary and generally proves the proficiency of the individual. In short, the only reason for an IT worker not to have it is because they cannot pass.
Granted, not every job is going to require a certified systems engineer. For home computers, home networks and very small businesses every technician should at the minimum have a certification from CompTIA for A+ and Network+. A+ certification involves having a thorough understanding of basic PC hardware and software, and Network+ involves a proven knowledge of small networks, routers and other networking equipment. Many computer service firms will employ a variety of different personnel and assign a level one, two or three to their technicians based on their certification levels. For example level one may require A+ certification, level two may require A+ and Network+ certification and level three will be an MCSE. This enables the company to dispatch the appropriate level of technician based on the job that is to be performed. In a very complicated industry these certifications provide an easy way to exactly what proficiency level any individual is at without having to take their word for it, only to find out later that they are lacking proficiency in some key area. To verify a Microsoft certification the individual should provide you with their Microsoft transcript ID and access code, which you can then enter into the Microsoft web site to verify the certification. For CompTIA certifications the certified individual should be able to provide you with a copy of their certificates in PDF format, which they can get from logging into the CompTIA web site with their CompTIA account.
While there are many other factors to consider when hiring an IT services company or individual to work on your businesses computer systems, verifying industry certifications is one way to quickly and easily determine the level of any computer services professional.
Jason Roskopf is a Waukesha computer repair and IT services expert and co-owner of the “IT Connect” Milwaukee computer repair service centers.
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