Computer Hardware Skills That Will Help You Get Hired

Computer Hardware Skills That Will Help You Get Hired

Learning how to use computer software is one thing. Being able to maintain and troubleshoot computer problems is quite another. The difference is in knowing how to work with the computer hardware as a machine, rather than as a productivity tool with cool programs.

Nearly every medium-to-large office has an IT (information technology) help desk with specialists to help fellow employees fix error messages or malfunctioning computers. Even those that are tech savvy often don’t know what to do when an error message pops up. In a small office, those responsibilities could end up being yours regardless of the job you were hired for. Here are some of the basic computer hardware skills that can help you get hired.

Internet Connectivity

Every office depends heavily upon reliable internet. However, a number of little things could go wrong to interfere with a strong internet connection. The problem could lie with an individual computer itself or, if all the computers are “down,” the problem may lie with the hardware supplying the wireless internet to the office. This hardware comprises the modem and the router. You will need to know how to restart these devices, and become familiar with various troubleshooting methods.

When computer systems/devices connect, this is commonly referred to as a network. Devices find each other wirelessly through a configuration process and an IP address. Today, most offices take advantage of wireless networks to reduce the amount of wires in and around desks. However, in an office where cyber security is a top priority, it is more likely for the network to employ secure wired connections, commonly facilitated by ethernet cables.

Here are some key terms that relate to internet connectivity:

  • Modem
  • Router
  • Bandwidth
  • Wireless configuration
  • IP address
  • Ethernet connection

System Maintenance

Not long ago, updating computers and their software programs required you to purchase a new computer or device altogether. Today, most devices are built to be able to use software that can keep up with the speed of improvement in the world of computer systems and software. This is done through software updates. As someone responsible for maintaining computer systems, one of your duties will be making sure that key programs on each office computerare current with their updates. Ignoring these updates will account for a host of frustrating problems, including frozen computer screens or error messages.

But it’s not just about the software updates. As machines, all working parts of the computer need to be healthy. Issues such as overheating, dust, defective parts, and more can cause major issues with computer hardware. You may be asked to intervene with a malfunctioning computer in which all that is needed is some dust clearing in the keyboard or inside the machine. Other times, you may have to identify parts that need replacing (that is why some IT jobs require you to have a basic understanding of computer anatomy).

To recap, here is a list of key terms associated with system maintenance:

  • Software updates
  • Computer anatomy
    • Hard drive
    • Central processing unit
    • Motherboard
    • Cooling system
    • Power supply
    • Video, sound, & network cards
    • Bluetooth & wireless cards
    • Random access memory
    • Ports
  • Display monitor

Configuring Drivers & Components

Along with a computer, you also have external computer devices that need to connect to a computer independently. Examples of these computer devices include printersscanners, and external hard drives.

Before these devices can work together on your computer, the computer needs to be configured to these devices. Today, this occurs primarily through driver installations. Each computer device manufacturer supplies these drivers either through a CD(that accompanies the computer device) or through a free online download. 

Additionally, you will need to become aware of the ways that these computer devices connect to the computer. Some printers, for example, can only connect via a USB cable, while other printers connect wirelessly. Other connection types include ethernetVGAHDMI, and Lightning (Apple devices).

In review, here is a list of the key topics related to configuring drivers for external computer devices/components:

  • Devices
    • Printer
    • Scanner
    • Hard drive
    • CD/DVD external drive
  • Device configuration
  • Device connection
    • USB
    • Ethernet
    • VGA
    • HDMI
    • Wireless
    • Lightning

Learning New Skills

In reality, troubleshooting and maintaining computer hardware is not that much different to working on any other machine. Computers are, however, a bit more complex than most other machines. Candidates who are the most accomplished at computer science and programming advance to working on hardware in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence (also known as machine learning). If you find that you enjoy learning about computer hardware and want to know more, you might consider a college degree in computer science or machine learning.

If you are only interested in a job as an IT specialist or in enhancing your hardware skills to boost your employability, there is no need to pursue a college degree in computer science. Some jobs will train you from the ground up. Others just prefer that you are familiar with the basics. As such, taking the time to read instructional material on computer hardware skills (like this article) and watching some well made tutorials online can help you feel comfortable as you develop new skills in working with computers.

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  • January 2, 2023