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Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer equipment such as chips, circuit boards, or routers. By solving complex problems in computer hardware, these engineers create rapid advances in computer technology. Show Details

Duties

Computer hardware engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new computer hardware, creating blueprints of computer equipment to be built
  • Test the completed models of the computer hardware they design
  • Analyze the test results and modify the design as needed
  • Update existing computer equipment so that it will work with new software
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for computer hardware

Computer hardware engineers ensure that computer hardware components work together with the latest software developments. Therefore, hardware engineers sometimes work with software developers. For example, computer hardware engineers give developers of mobile applications information about what kind of software a cell phone can run.

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. Some, called technical support specialists, support information technology (IT) employees within their organization. Others, called help-desk technicians, assist non-IT users who are having computer problems. Show Details

Duties

Technical support specialists typically do the following:

  • Test and evaluate existing network systems
  • Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks operate correctly
  • Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Internet systems

Technical support specialists, also called computer network support specialists, usually work in their organizationís IT department. They help IT staff analyze, troubleshoot, and evaluate computer network problems. They play an important role in the daily upkeep of their organizationís networks by finding solutions to problems as they occur. Solving an IT problem in a timely manner is important because organizations depend on their computer systems. Technical support specialists may provide assistance to the organizationís computer users through phone, email, or in-person visits. They often work under network and computer systems administrators, who handle more complex tasks. For more information, see the profile on network and computer systems administrators.

Help-desk technicians typically do the following:

  • Pay attention to customers when they describe their computer problems
  • Ask customers questions to properly diagnose the problem
  • Walk customers through the problem-solving steps
  • Set up or repair computer equipment and related devices
  • Train users to use new computer hardware or software, including printing, installation, word processing, and email
  • Give information to others in the organization about what gives customers the most trouble and other concerns customers have

Help-desk technicians, also called computer user support specialists, usually provide technical help to non-IT computer users. They respond to phone and email requests for help. Sometimes they make site visits so that they can solve a problem in person.

Help-desk technicians may solve a range of problems that vary with the industry and the particular firm. Some technicians work for large software companies and for support service firms and must give instructions to business customers on how to use complex programs. Others work in call centers answering simpler questions from consumers. Some technicians work for organizations and help non-IT workers with their computer problems.

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