Becoming a PC/Mac Consultant/Tech

Discussion in 'Community' started by Mudbug, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. Mudbug Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    I've been trying to find a new direction for my career for a little while now, feeling a bit stagnant in my job and wanting more. As quite a few of you can relate, I'm the 'tech guy' that quite a few people I know, and quite a few people I don't know, call and ask their computer questions to. I can't help but think that with a complete lack of any kind of local Apple support of any kind, there's not quite a bit of money to be made. Not to mention that I'm just as comfortable fixing PC's that are fubar'd as well.

    My question is more one of this: Is anyone else already doing what I'm thinking of, and if so, what steps did you take to get involved in what you're doing? What were good points and bad? Would you recommend a certain training course over another because it really had what you needed, as opposed to a weekend retreat learning very little? As I posted in this thread, I'm contemplating the AppleCare Technician Training pkg. which I think would give me a good base to start from, but I'm very much not so naive to think that's enough to get started. I'm not looking for offering AppleCare support from the factory - but more as a Mac-certified tech to work on out-of-warranty things and other questions. Not to mention consulting on what machines/networking pieces to buy to best fit someone's business.

    Everyone is of course welcome to reply, but I'm really looking for advice from other consultants that might already be doing this stuff.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. pncc macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2002
    I have been a computer consultant in NH for almost 10 years now. Two recommendations:
    1) Buy the Apple technician training kit IF you are not too familiar opening up and repairing Apple computers. Have you ever seen or used the Apple Service Source CDs? If you have not buy the kit. many of the exam questions will reference it and it contains ALL the take aparts for Macs. You do NOT need the kit to take the certification exam. Anyone can take the exam.

    2) Become a member of the Apple Consultants Network. This requires certification also, but the low level Help Desk certification is based on OS X client and not that difficult to pass. The ACN is a VERY valuable program and gives you access to A LOT a REAL lot of Apple support and opportunities to grow your business. The $495 membership sounds expensive, but it will pay for itself in a few months.

    You are right, there are not a lot of Apple consultants in the Louisiana area that I know of so you should do well. Good luck.
  3. Mudbug thread starter Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    this is exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for - thanks.
    Everyone else - fire away :)
  4. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    I've been an independent computer consultant for the last 4 years. I was lucky in that I had more than 10 years of experience with Macs and had a ton of experience with NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP/Rhapsody/Mac OS X Developer Previews at a time when most Mac consultants and service people (including those at Apple) were still pretty much in the dark on all things Mac OS X. That and a ton of experience in the print industry really helped.

    I stumbled across my first client (a local magazine) and before I knew it I had a full client list. I've been lucky, I have never advertised and all my clients found me via word-of-mouth. And starting back in 2002 I dropped support for Windows PCs because I had enough business with just my Mac clients.

    I also know quite a few other consultants in the area. I started going to the local Mac Consultants meetings before I started so I could ask questions. I now use those contacts with other consultants to balance out the fact that I am only one person.

    All and all it has been quite nice. I got into it so I would have something that gave me some free time so I could go back to school (for mathematics) while still being able to pay my bills. It is nice that I can make money doing something I enjoy.
  5. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus


    Oct 5, 2001
    San Diego, CA
    Not much to add to pncc's post - all the Apple techs I've talked to have good things to say about the cert program. If I was going to continue in tech support and go solo, that'd be my route.
  6. winwintoo macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2003
    I'm speaking as a *consumer* of tech support both PC and Mac......

    If you've been reading the papers lately, you are no doubt aware that the fastest growing group of new/first time computer users are retired folks - and they are the ones most likely to not quibble about paying for your services.

    BUT - they will require slightly different services from you than -say - an up and coming lawyer in New York.

    Also, I've worked with Macs for 20+ years and do most of my own stuff, but last spring I wasn't feeling well and my Mom and sister were switching around some computers so they hired a Mac tech to do some work for them. I couldn't believe - he knew the hardware, but knew nothing about any of the software we use - all common stuff and he had never installed or used Panther! In the end, I had to redo most of what he did simply 'cuz he didn't know Panther.

    I guess what I'm saying is, unless you're going to work in a dark room under the stairs, be prepared to know more than what you learn in school - but wait, you already deal with all those people, never mind. ;) ;)

  7. Baron58 macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2004
    Did it for 5+ years, had my own company, still do a little on the side (have a full-time job). There's money to be made, but it requires a certain mindset/philosophy/approach to both the consulting business and the technical job at hand, plus business and client-relations skills. I'd still be doing it if I didn't want so desperately to have a non-IT career (" longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from...")

    I'm happy to pass along all my experience and advice, but *not* here. PM me and we can move it to email.
  8. Mudbug thread starter Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    just as an update (don't really wanna resurrect an old thread, but don't need to start a new one) I've ordered the AppleCare Certified Technician training pkg this evening. I'll post updates as they come about...
  9. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    fix pc, too...they break down more ;)

    i was the "mac" guy, or at least a major apple fan, then i realized that there is also money, perhaps more, in the pc world...while there is money, don't expect this field to be fun in any way and realize that it's just a job like any other...i have seen too many people passionate about computers as a hobby fall into this field and seriously burn out

    dealing with people and selling your services is important...keeping your clients by satisfying their needs is important...and realizing that there is no such thing as a stupid question is very important


    a good certification to get for the pc side is the comptia A+ certification and the microsoft windows 2000 or windows xp MCP certification for desktop support

    microsoft's MCSA or MCSE certifications are good for windows networking, and cisco's CCNA or a higher cisco certification (such as CCNP/CCDA/CCDP/CCIE) for wide area networks dealing with cisco products...novell has a CNA certification, and a higher CNE title for networking...redhat has the RHCE for linux

    comptia's Network+ and Server+ are also good networking certifications

    those are among the more well known titles but there are many more and give good test prep materials, and if followed closely, will make you pass at least one of these certifications

    an associate's, bachelor's, or higher college degree in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, business, management, technology education, information systems, or telecommunications is helpful but not necessary

    and experience is helpful and 100% percent necessary...but that comes with time

    i hope this helps

    -"jefhatfield", MCP, BA
    mac and pc techie dude for five years
  10. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    mbug - give some thought as to who your target clients are. i've discovered there are a lot of small business owners who can't afford much for IT support, i.e. they're too small for a lot of certified techs and the smaller firms to bother with.

    they don't pay much, and may not have much work, but the flipside can be flexibility for you, especially schedule-wise.

    and i can't emphasize word of mouth enough. all those people who ask you questions now, tell them you're starting a business. pretty soon they'll be referring you to others.

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