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Is it Possible to Start A Computer Repair Business Without A College Degree?

Discussion in 'Employees and Human Resources' started by FreelancingQueen, Feb 29, 2016.

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  1. FreelancingQueen

    FreelancingQueen Entrepreneur

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    My son is extremely computer savvy. He has done repairs for me and many others and has always done excellent work. The thing is, this is all self-taught knowledge. He has never went to college to learn this and really does not want to go learn about what he already knows. Do you think it would be possible for him to start his own computer repair business without a college degree?
     

  2. Federico.Gimeno

    Federico.Gimeno Entrepreneur

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    Sure, it's totally possible. Most people won't care if he has a degree or not as long as he is good at the job. He will get recommended for quality and his business will grow.
     
  3. remnant

    remnant Entrepreneur

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    A good number of people with college degrees do not have the aptitude, proclivity or talent in their area of study. They are in it for the money and prestige. Training through apprenticeship confers hands on experience. One is not bogged down by theory. The application aspect of science mores is an art.
     
  4. pwarbi

    pwarbi Entrepreneur

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    I think if he's just going to start a repair business working for himself then its definitely possible to do it without a degree.

    The problem only arises if he wants to.work for another company as I'd imagine they would require some sort of certification.
     
  5. jona

    jona Entrepreneur

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    Absolutely possible, as a matter of fact, I am not entirely sure what kind of college degree you would need to pursuit if you wanted to have one to do this, I don't think such degree exists. What you have are a bunch of courses and certifications and I am sure that you could pursuit those online.
     
  6. djentre

    djentre Entrepreneur

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    I know quite a few people who are into this kind of thing and do not have a college degree. Although some sort of a specialized education or certificate might be a good idea.

    Unless, there is some law that prevents him from repairing systems without a degree, which I doubt there is, he should simply move forward with the business idea.

    When he earns enough money, he can pursue one of those hardware related courses that exist in the educational system.
     
  7. Corazon

    Corazon Entrepreneur

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    I don't know the condition in your area but here in ours, there is a government agency that provides learnings for short courses including computer repair. In fact, my husband's nephew had attended the TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority). You don't need a college degree to enroll. And you are issued a certificate upon completion of the course, meaning you are a certified computer technician. Most computer tech here in small computer shops are not college graduates.
     
    Ladyferoz likes this.
  8. Vinaya.Ghimire

    Vinaya.Ghimire Entrepreneur

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    If you know about software and programming, you can troubleshoot a computer easily. If you know about computer hardware, you can easily repair a computer. You don't need a college degree, you need skills. I have a friend who is not even a high school graduate but earns well as a computer software and hardware specialist.
     
    Corazon likes this.
  9. setupdisc

    setupdisc Moderator Entrepreneur

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    It doesn't require a degree to do it yourself, but it does require years of quality experience and to know what you are doing. This could probably double with the pet-peeve thread for what I've seen happen to the industry the past 20 to 30 years. For the most part, they've managed to turn a highly skilled and technical industry into something tantamount to car sales. :(

    It's become saturated with point-and-click people, making most of the traditional engineers and experienced system programmers leave that part of the field and return to corporate or highly skilled areas only, but for less pay. This yields a field where very few people who know what they're doing and those who try to hang tough no longer have enthusiasm about their job or the desire to stay in it, because they'll have to contend with or be compared to the newIy saturated amateurs every time they turn around. Not only is that bad for the customers, but it is bad for the providers who are skilled because they get compared to that or set trends for that, and of course, it is also bad for the person who goes into a field without knowing what they should to complete a task because it looks bad on them directly when they do this.

    So if someone is serious about starting a business that requires a high degree of technical ability (whether it is this field or any other that needs more than a normal job would), they have to take it seriously and put in a lot of time and gain a lot of knowledge and expertise before they put themselves out there. It's not like setting up a lemonade stand or getting a job as a salesperson (even though newcomers tend to treat it as such). It's more involved when you have to take a system apart and start repairing circuits or components by hand. Granted, many of today's technicians do not do that or seem to know how if they have to, and instead advocate that the customer "throw it away and buy the part or the whole system new", which invalidates their title and is one of many cases where the gradual downtrend of people getting into it set a bad precedent.

    It's not a good thing that everybody and their brother who can point and click is allowed to start a computer business. To me, it's about the same as letting people who work at McDonalds become nuclear reactor safety technicians for Chernobyl or Fukushima without years of training and rigorous testing first. Could you imagine if someone who could hold a scalpel in their hand were able to call themselves a "surgeon" or even a "neurosurgeon"? That is precisely what I am seeing happen to the computer industry today.

    If you're going to get into it, do it right. You and your customers deserve quality, and cannot afford to have you come up short on this. You don't have to have college degrees because those often teach you just the minimum without the real hands-on experience you need which is better. Certifications were only made as a cash cow for the industry to charge people as they teach people uncreative, lockstep, and not always successful ways to solve problems the way they want it to be...not the best way, or a way that will always be correct as things change. Knowing this, they lock people into a "cert cycle" where they have to keep paying to 'learn' "the next" way to be a corporate slave and know only what they want them to for the next specific set of certs and employment routines. It's pathetic, and just as I was outraged when I saw them starting that certification junk in 1998, I still feel a part of that anger looking at it even still today.

    You should not have to pay someone to verify 1/100th of what you already knew, or change the way you do things to pretend that thier inefficient method is magically better because that's all the employer wants to be able to understand. Just no. When you encounter real-world scenarios that neither the certification authors, the professors offering college credits, or the employer can understand...it's going to only be the people who know what they are doing from experience or intricate knowledge of the hardware and software in every way that are going to make it in certain situations. Been there, done that, got the Fortune 500 T-shirt.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
  10. setupdisc

    setupdisc Moderator Entrepreneur

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    I ran out of room to post and continue (beyond 10,000 words), but I wanted to illustrate a situation and comment more on the above a little.

    If you're going to do the certifications or the college coursework, make sure you've spent as much time and experience as those two combined or longer doing things on your own first. Go to the library and check out books on VLSI and lithography. Teach yourself programming in Basic, then C, then Assembly Language. Anything else like Python or web languages or interpreted languages (Php, Java, Javascript, etc) can come after if you need them.

    Teach yourself how to convert between binary, decimal, hexadecimal, and octal by hand. If you use a conversion tool later, it saves time...but you have to know how to do this by hand in the event that those tools aren't available. You need to know this whether you work with the hardware or software be it for diagnosis, development, or anything else you are doing.

    Know how the hardware talks to the motherboard, how short circuits happen, and how to correct them and, discover how to make your own components if you have the means to (which are not taught in the certification courses or the college courses, but should be - electrical engineering and hardware circuitry development go hand in hand with computer repair and at one time were not separate as they are today. There was no "IT" - there was only this; all of this!). This is not always possible on short notice, certain hardware situations, or resources permitting...but there are creative ways to fix a lot of systems or do things they will never teach.

    Real life story and situation attached from an emergency job 11 years ago in the middle of nowhere for an on-site call:

    In 2005 I went on an on-site to someone 3 hours away - no stores for miles - who had a laptop that had to be cloned before the next day for an emergency. They did not have an external drive like they said they did, and I didn't bring one since they were already suposed to have one ready. When I got there, I discovered that they did not have anything but that one 40GB hard drive. Back then, you were lucky if you had a 256MB flash drive, so that was out of the question. What to do? I did have my brand new dvd burner external with me still, and a stack of DVDs that could store at least 120GB. I tried to use a live CD of an early version of linux (Knoppix) to clone the drive directly to the discs, but it could not see or recognize the dvd drive. Their internet connection was dialup, so that wasn't going to be of any help to upload some of it to my server and then download back, or to try and download an updated ISO of the cloning software that could see it. There wasn't enough time to do that, or to write a driver stack for the DVD block device. Would've taken more hours than we had, or even days. It was designed to be used for Windows and already had drivers for that on a disc. So what I did on 2 hours notice was to make a live CD of Windows 2000 to where I could install drivers for it to recognize the device virtually, and then try to run Norton Ghost. However, Norton Ghost couldn't see the drive either to back up to...but I noticed that the system could, and VMWare could. Although running out of RAM, I installed VMWare and then made a virtual device file as a hard drive overlay from my usb external dvd burner, and told it to introduce a block read/write pause after a specific amount of blocks are read and written. There was not enough ram left to even try to install another program in or outside of VMWare on the live CD of Win2k in RAM, but what this did was enabled me to use FreeDos as a live CD in a VM with a second file to make another hard drive overlay that mapped to the real physical hard drive. Together with the two overlays in VMWare and FreeDOS over a win2k lite OS in RAM, I was able to copy raw blocks of the hard drive off to DVD in a DVD-R format 2GB at a time, and had it pause at the end just long enough to eject the finalized disc to insert a new one before it resumed. I could have tried to push it up to 3.84GB to not waste half of the DVD, but it was experimental and needed to be done as certainly as possible. I was reading past the 2GB limit since it was raw, but I didn't want to push it.

    Many hours later, it completed. It had worked, and I was able to securely erase the drive thereafter, but before doing so, was able to show him how I could use Windows or Linux to read the block data, and that the file structure and master file table was there (so it wouldn't look like raw data when reassembled). Why was this so important? He worked in government and it was a system going to another person in government that was using it or possibly seling it for non-gov activity later. So it had to be securely erased, but I find out (only after I get there) that he has secret and classified information that he cannot afford to lose, and he has no time left to do this because for some reason, he had already called 3 techs before me - 2 declined, and 1 got scared and said they wouldn't do it because of the sensitivity of the information. So he decided not to tell me about any of that, and while he filtered what he said, he accidentally filtered out the fact that he didn't have an external drive and needed me to buy or bring one that I could bill him for. Had he not called at least 1 or 2 of them first that day, he would not have wasted time and I actually would have been able to go out, get the drive, and come back. Also, he could have had someone else drive out there and bring us a drive, but he hadn't considered that and I was too involved with trying to get the data saved safely for something like a Mission Impossible type of scenario.

    He paid me 3x what we agreed to, because in his own words: "I've worked in government for years, and directly the forensics teams, but I've never seen anyone do something like this before with tools in this way. Where did you go to school to learn something like this? Harvard?"

    I kept a straight face and said: "Good mentorship from engineers and inventors alike, and about 20 years of hands-on experience from the ground up, sir. They do not teach things like this in schools, but it would help the entire profession if they did."

    So that's just one of the types of situations you run into out there as I did, and there were many like this. Of course, you have to know when to decline a job still or find a way to help them through alternative means that don't necessarily include them hiring you to complete something in every case, but most techs today don't seem to do this. The majority are going to not walk - but run - from situations like this or decline them. Why? Because when they realize they have to work with redoing the hardware rather than just desoldering or resoldering a component, when it takes programming and intimate knowledge of the system to work around things in ways that have seldom or never been worked around yet, or they haven't spent time doing this to where they are worried of it not working more than how to make it work...they'll decline, or they'll take it on, get frustrated with it, quit, leave the customer hanging, and the customer is then upset at the next tech (you or me) who has to come along and clean up the mess and the precedent set by the person who should have known better.

    I'm not saying you have to know everything about a career field or job when you do it like this, but if you're going to do it, do it 100% and go for the gold. Don't cut corners on your experience or your knowledge, because you are going to need it all later.

    Today's IT, no matter what they tell you, is not the same as traditional Computer Science that was forked from it. It's been obfuscated, adapted, and rearranged to look spiffy, but it's not the ground floor. They keep removing developers and engineers as much as they can in many ways from that ground floor, leaving only certain key people still on it, while others end up in the outskirts and find themselves stuck when they get to things they were never given the information they needed to teach themselves to reach beyond it.

    Getting, using, and having real experience can be the difference between a successful job with a bonus and a customer meltdown...or worse, a core meltdown.

    Be diligent, and be complete in all that you do! :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
  11. CoolSpot

    CoolSpot Entrepreneur

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    You can definitely do it without a degree (this was one of my first businesses) and was a great earner for a while. One thing that will help him a lot is a Microsoft qualification (again not needed, I didnt have it, but got asked a lot about it.), most customers wont even know what it entails but they like to see it as they know Microsoft has something to do with their pc so gives them that little bit of reassurance.
     
    setupdisc likes this.
  12. Federico.Gimeno

    Federico.Gimeno Entrepreneur

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    Perfect answer , @setup. I totally agree since I live the situation in a daily basis. Thanks for posting.
     
    setupdisc likes this.
  13. Corazon

    Corazon Entrepreneur

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    Our home computer went pffft late last year and my husband brought it to the repair shop. It is a mini mall (4-story building) that specializes in computers - all the stalls and booths are either repair shop or reseller of refurbished computers. My husband has the impression that most of the technicians there were good because business is flourishing. But they appear like uneducated just by looking at the invoice - so many wrong spellings an obvious indication of lack of education.
     
    setupdisc likes this.
  14. djentre

    djentre Entrepreneur

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    As long as the technician can fix things and has experience. Experience trumps education anyday. After a few years in a field, no one asks for a degree anyways.
     
    CoolSpot and setupdisc like this.
  15. Federico.Gimeno

    Federico.Gimeno Entrepreneur

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    This is so true. Being good at tech stuff does not cancel the need for high (or basic in this case) education in other matters. For example, most engineers I know here in my hometown have issues with spelling and basic grammar rules.
     
    Corazon and setupdisc like this.
  16. pwarbi

    pwarbi Entrepreneur

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    Being good or being interested in one thing doesn't mean that you can sacrifice every other form of learning obviously, but I think that's when a lot of people go wrong.

    Not only in this type of work, but how many people who are interested in sport pay the same attention to other skills at school? Not many I'd guess but if one job doesn't work out, it's always best to have that backup.
     
  17. ReadmeByAmy

    ReadmeByAmy Entrepreneur

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    It is possible that your son can start his own computer repair business even without a college degree. I knew some computer shops that are owned by those who had no formal education when it comes to this thing. They are just been gifted with skillful hands and mind to have a knowledge in fixing and repairing computers through their self study and interest in doing this thing. As long as your son is competent and he loves what he is doing then his prospective customers will be satisfied in his work.
     
  18. djentre

    djentre Entrepreneur

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    So, how's it going? Is your son going to go into business for himself? Please let us know :)
     
  19. onlinecashcity

    onlinecashcity Entrepreneur

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    In short, yes! Someone who doesn't have educational/institutional training, but rather hands-on experience may be better anyways, in my opinion. They do it as a hobby/enjoyment and therefore are comfortable and passionate about it.

    Same reason when I need handywork/auto work or something else done, I won't try to go through any sort of company, but rather an independent contractor who is his own business.

    And if he's knowledgeable and doing good work, he will do just fine. The only issue would be trying to market his abilities as a person rather than a company or business that would do something similar.
     
  20. thedude

    thedude Entrepreneur

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    Most IT guys I know do not have a degree, especially the ones who started their own business. I flirted with the idea for many years, mostly because I consider myself an expert when it comes to computers. Just remember start small, be nice, and steadily grow! Tell him I said good luck!
     

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