For most people, their computer and their data is as vital to their daily lives as their telephone and bank account. Recently I have heard several horror stories from new clients about incompetent and/or unscrupulous computer technicians. Currently, at least in New York State, there is no licensing requirement for a computer tech. Having recently passed certifications for both PC and Mac, I can tell you that if someone passes those rigorous tests, at least they have adequate knowledge to do a good job. Being certified doesn’t mean a technician has the answer to every computer question or problem – no one does. Part of what training and experience teaches you is how to recognize when you need more information, and where to find it. A person who has passed the certification exam should have a good idea of what they need to know to service your computer.
Of course there is no test for honesty, except perhaps the marketplace and the courts. I strongly recommend that if you are in the market for a computer tech to come into your home or business, look for someone who is certified, and preferably someone with several years’ experience. The industry standard basic PC tech certification is called “A+” and is granted by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). For Mac service, the Apple Certified Support Professional certification is granted by Apple. The status of both certifications for any individual can be verified on the respective web sites.
For protection from unscrupulous technicians, there’s nothing like a customer referral. Ask for some client references you can contact by phone or email, and check with them before you hire a new technician.
I did computer support work for seventeen years before becoming certified. I knew I was giving honest, capable service, but not everyone out there is like me. If there had been a state law requiring certification, I would have taken the exams long ago. Sooner or later, I predict that such licensing will be required, as more customers experience the difference between competent, trustworthy service and getting taken for a nightmare ride. Meanwhile, caveat emptor!