Computer, Automated Teller, and Office Machine Repairers
Workers qualify for these jobs by receiving training in electronics
from associate degree programs, the military, vocational schools,
equipment manufacturers, or employers.
Job growth reflects the increasing dependence of businesses
and individuals on computers and other sophisticated office
Job prospects will be best for applicants with knowledge of
electronics as well as repair experience.
Nature of the Work
Computer repairers, also known as computer service
technicians or data processing equipment repairers, service
mainframe, server, and personal computers; printers; and disc
drives. These workers perform primarily hands-on repair, maintenance,
and installation of computers and related equipment. Workers
who provide technical assistance, in person or by telephone,
to computer system users are known as computer support specialists
or computer support technicians.
Automated teller machines (ATMs) allow customers to carry
out bank transactions without the assistance of a teller.
ATMs now also provide a growing variety of other services,
including stamp, phone card, and ticket sales. Automated
teller machine servicers repair and service these machines.
Office machine and cash register servicers work on
photocopiers, cash registers, mail-processing equipment, and
fax machines. Newer models of office machinery include computerized
components that allow them to function more effectively than
To install large equipment, such as mainframe computers and
ATMs, repairers connect the equipment to power sources and
communication lines that allow the transmission of information
over computer networks. For example, when an ATM dispenses
cash, it transmits the withdrawal information to the customerís
bank. Workers also may install operating software and peripheral
equipment, checking that all components are configured to
function together correctly. The installation of personal
computers and other small office machines is less complex
and may be handled by the purchaser.
When equipment breaks down, many repairers travel to customersí
workplaces or other locations to make the necessary repairs.
These workers, known as field technicians, often have
assigned areas in which they perform preventive maintenance
on a regular basis. Bench technicians work in repair
shops located in stores, factories, or service centers. In
small companies, repairers may work both in repair shops and
at customer locations.
Computer repairers usually replace subsystems instead of
repairing them. Replacement is common because subsystems are
inexpensive and businesses are reluctant to shut down their
computers for time-consuming repairs. Subsystems commonly
replaced by computer repairers include video cards, which
transmit signals from the computer to the monitor; hard drives,
which store data; and network cards, which allow communication
over the network. Defective modules may be given to bench
technicians, who use software programs to diagnose the problem
and who may repair the modules, if possible.
When ATMs malfunction, computer networks recognize the problem
and alert repairers. Common problems include worn magnetic
heads on card readers, which prevent the equipment from recognizing
customersí bankcards, and ďpick failures,Ē which prevent the
equipment from dispensing the correct amount of cash. Field
technicians travel to the locations of ATMs and usually repair
equipment by removing and replacing defective components.
Broken components are taken to a repair shop, where bench
technicians make the necessary repairs. Field technicians
perform routine maintenance on a regular basis, replacing
worn parts and running diagnostic tests to ensure that the
equipment functions properly.
Office machine repairers usually work on machinery at the
customerís workplace; alternatively, if the machines are small
enough, customers may bring them to a repair shop for maintenance.
Common malfunctions include paper misfeeds caused by worn
or dirty parts, and poor-quality copy resulting from problems
with lamps, lenses, or mirrors. These malfunctions usually
can be resolved simply by cleaning the relevant components.
Breakdowns also may result from the failure of commonly used
parts. For example, heavy use of a photocopier may wear down
the printhead, which applies ink to the final copy. In such
cases, the repairer usually replaces the part instead of repairing
Workers use a variety of tools for diagnostic tests and repair.
To diagnose malfunctions, they use multimeters to measure
voltage, current, resistance, and other electrical properties;
signal generators to provide test signals; and oscilloscopes
to monitor equipment signals. To diagnose computerized equipment,
repairers use software programs. To repair or adjust equipment,
workers use handtools, such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering
irons, and wrenches.
Repairers usually work in clean, well-lighted surroundings.
Because computers and office machines are sensitive to extreme
temperatures and to humidity, repair shops usually are air-conditioned
and well ventilated. Field repairers must travel frequently
to various locations to install, maintain, or repair customersí
equipment. ATM repairers may have to perform their jobs in
small, confined spaces that house the equipment.
Because computers and ATMs are critical for many organizations
to function efficiently, data processing equipment repairers
and ATM field technicians often work around the clock. Their
schedules may include evening, weekend, and holiday shifts,
sometimes assigned on the basis of seniority. Office machine
and cash register servicers usually work regular business
hours because the equipment they repair is not as critical.
Although their job is not strenuous, repairers must lift
equipment and work in a variety of postures. Repairers of
computer monitors need to discharge voltage from the equipment
to avoid electrocution. Workers may have to wear protective
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Knowledge of electronics is necessary for employment as a
computer, automated teller, or office machine repairer. Employers
prefer workers who are certified as repairers or who have
training in electronics from associate degree programs, the
military, vocational schools, or equipment manufacturers.
Employers generally provide some training to new repairers
on specific equipment; however, workers are expected to arrive
on the job with a basic understanding of equipment repair.
Employers may send experienced workers to training sessions
to keep up with changes in technology and service procedures.
Most office machine and ATM repairer positions require an
associate degree in electronics. A basic understanding of
mechanical equipment also is important, because many of the
parts that fail in office machines and ATMs, such as paper
loaders, are mechanical. Entry-level employees at large companies
normally receive on-the-job training lasting several months.
Such training may include a week of classroom instruction,
followed by a period of 2 weeks to several months assisting
an experienced repairer.
Field technicians work closely with customers and must have
good communications skills and a neat appearance. Employers
normally require that field technicians have a driverís license.
Various organizations offer certification. To receive certification,
repairers must pass qualifying examinations corresponding
to their level of training and experience.
Newly hired computer repairers may work on personal computers
or peripheral equipment. With experience, they can advance
to positions maintaining more sophisticated systems, such
as networking equipment and servers. Field repairers of ATMs
may advance to bench technician positions responsible for
more complex repairs. Experienced workers may become specialists
who help other repairers diagnose difficult problems or who
work with engineers in designing equipment and developing
maintenance procedures. Experienced workers also may move
into management positions responsible for supervising other
Because of their familiarity with equipment, experienced
repairers may move into customer service or sales positions.
Some experienced workers open their own repair shops or become
wholesalers or retailers of electronic equipment.
Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers
held about 168,000 jobs in 2004. Wholesale trade establishments
employed about 35 percent of the workers in this occupation;
most of these establishments were wholesalers of professional
and commercial equipment and supplies. Many workers also were
employed in electronics, appliance, and office supply stores.
Others worked in electronic and precision equipment repair
shops and computer systems design firms. A small number found
employment with computer and peripheral equipment manufacturers,
government agencies, and Internet service providers. About
15 percent of computer, automated teller, and office machine
repairers were self-employed, which is more than twice the
proportion for all installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.
Employment of computer, automated teller, and office machine
repairers is expected to grow more slowly than the average
for all occupations through 2014. Limited job growth will
be driven by the increasing dependence of business and individuals
on computers and other sophisticated office machines. The
need to maintain this equipment will create new jobs for repairers.
In addition, openings will result from the need to replace
repairers who retire or transfer to new occupations.
Job prospects will be best for applicants with knowledge
of electronics as well as repair experience. Although computer
equipment continues to become less expensive and more reliable,
malfunctions still occur and can cause severe problems for
users, most of whom lack the knowledge to make repairs. Computers
are critical to most businesses today and will become even
more so to companies that do business on the Internet and
to individuals that bank, pay bills, or make purchases online.
People also are becoming increasingly reliant on ATMs. Besides
offering bank and retail transactions, ATMs provide an increasing
number of other services, such as employee information processing
and distribution of government payments. Improvements in ATM
design have increased reliability and simplified repair tasks,
reducing the number and extent of repairs. However, opportunities
for ATM repairers should still be available arising primarily
from the need to replace workers who leave the specialty,
rather than from employment growth.
Conventional office machines, such as calculators, are inexpensive,
and often are replaced instead of repaired. However, digital
copiers and other, newer office machines are more costly and
complex. This equipment often is computerized, designed to
work on a network, and capable of performing multiple functions.
The growing need for repairers to service such sophisticated
equipment should result in job opportunities for office machine
Median hourly earnings of computer, automated teller, and
office machine repairers were $16.90 in May 2004. The middle
50 percent earned between $13.11 and $21.36. The lowest 10
percent earned less than $10.31, and the highest 10 percent
earned more than $26.28. Median hourly earnings in the industries
employing the largest numbers of computer, automated teller,
and office machine repairers in May 2004 are shown below:
Professional and commercial equipment
and supplies merchant wholesalers
Computer systems design and related
Office supplies, stationery, and gift
Electronic and precision equipment repair
Electronics and appliance stores
Workers in other occupations who repair and maintain electronic
equipment include broadcast and sound engineering technicians
and radio operators; electronic home entertainment equipment
installers and repairers; electrical and electronics installers
and repairers; industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance
workers; and radio and telecommunications equipment installers
Sources of Additional Information
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