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I find PC repair guys to be funny, as in ha-ha funny. These gentlemen drive around town in their beat-up pickup trucks or vans with magnetic signs on the driver’s door with "PC REPAIR" printed on it. Some even use stick-on letters that are supposed to go on postal mailboxes. These ‘businessmen’ operate out of shacks – as in literal shacks – and probably wouldn’t even know the difference between IDE and SATA if their lives depended on it.

These people, sorry to say, are modern day VCR repairmen. It’s the same thing you saw 20 years ago except now they’re "fixing" PCs instead of VCRs.

My advice to anyone who wants to be a self-sustaining businessman or businesswoman in the field of computer hardware is this:

DON’T FIX PCs.

Nobody with any real money will ever hire you, and everyone knows a 17-year-old kid can do everything you can, except about, oh, a million times better and more proficiently.

"Okay, smart guy, so what could I fix besides PCs?"

There are basically three things that people will pay you real (as in significant) money for concerning computer electronics hardware repair work:

  1. Servers
  2. Laptops/Notebooks
  3. Laser Printers

With servers, you can get DDET server certified – but chances are you don’t want to work for anyone but yourself. Being that server maintenance normally operates on contract through a large company such as Unisys, server repair is out because you will have to do the standard 9-to-5 shtick.

Laptop and notebook repair is probably something you don’t want to deal with because of the liability factor, and that it’s all too easy to break a repair, so that’s out. If you want certification, the only one worth bothering with is Dell. Why? Because they sell more computers than anyone else, both for consumer and business.

What you’re left with is laser printer repair. Businesses everywhere use laser printers, so there is plenty of work out there to be had. Once you know how to fix the things, you’ll quickly discover most of them usually have the same things go wrong pretty much all the time (rollers, thermal unit, etc.); this makes it easier for you, the printer tech, to get things done quickly and efficiently.

Where do you learn how to fix laser printers? Right here.

Where do you get certified for this sort of thing? It’s called PDI+ Certification (Printing and Document Imaging). There’s also CDIA+ Certification (Certified Document Imaging Architect).

After learning how to fix laser printers, you won’t need to drive around with that oh-so stupid magnetic sign just to get attention. Instead you can simply publish ads for free in Craigslist or in the local mailer circular that gets delivered once a week. List yourself as "On-Site Laser Printer Repair For Business", and the clients will come to you.

Believe me, laser printer repair is attractive as it is a needed service. It’s probably true that the vast majority if not all of your clients will be small to medium-sized businesses. A gas station here, a beauty salon there, etc. They all use laser printers.

But wait, you’re not done because you have develop service types. There’s per-incident (highest cost to customer) and contract in 90-day, 6-month or 12-month flavors just like the big guys do. Learn how to write these up, because nobody wants to do business with some dolt in a van who operates on nothing but a handshake and a smile. You need to develop service contracts if for nothing else than to at least appear professional.

All businesses print and they all hate having to buy printers. PCs they don’t care about because they’ll just toss them for new ones when they need to – but not printers. With printers, the more desirable option is to fix instead of replace.

If you want to fix something dealing with computer electronics that appeals to your handyman nature, fix printers.

On a final note, don’t touch inkjet printers. Ever. Only work on business/enterprise laser. Inkjet printers from a value perspective are just as worthless as PCs no matter how much was paid for one. The only time any money can be made from inkjet printer repair is if you’re an authorized repair center for large retail store (e.g. you’re the guy Best Buy sends printers to when people bring them in for warranty repair). But even then you’ll be hating life, because repairing inkjet printers is very, very annoying. Lots of little cheap parts that bust very easily. Stay away from those.