It is quite common for people to fall in love with building, repairing and simply tinkering with personal computers. You may have started with a basic system and spent hours upgrading it over time or decided to build your own PC from scratch. The endless amount of information available online makes it easy to educate yourself, and reading about other people’s experiences can make you curious to learn even more. But can you make a career out of the knowledge that you have accumulated?
Building and servicing custom PCs
Though most people now purchase computers in forms that are not customisable, such as tablets, laptops and AIOs, there is still a substantial market for custom-built PCs that are manually assembled from packaged components. You’ll also find that most neighbourhoods have a store that sells and repairs custom-built computers. Your knowledge is very useful to stores such as these, as building and repairing computers is their core business. Though there are formal training courses available, many employers would consider offering you a full- or part-time job based on demonstrable experience.
Working for an employer vs. independent contracting
IT professionals around the world are increasingly taking the route of contracting independently in place of working full-time for a single employer. In your career building and repairing computers, you may find that you can boost your earnings by working for clients on a project-by-project basis. Creating a limited company that you use to sign contracts with clients can help you maximise your earnings and make it easier to meet any legal requirements.
Getting help with the paperwork
If you are choosing to work on your own, then it is important that you take the correct legal and tax steps. Many contractors choose the option of an Umbrella Company, which takes away the stress of acting as a company director, arranging tax affairs and submitting accounts. With Umbrella Companies, it is a simple matter of entering income and expense details and then getting paid. Regardless of whether you choose an Umbrella or a limited company, it is extremely important that you seek advice with IR35 to make sure that you don’t fall afoul of tax laws, as some contracting arrangements are liable for National Insurance contributions.
A career in an enterprise environment
It’s worth noting that custom-built PCs are a small market; and your career is not likely to be a well-paid one. If tinkering with computers is your passion, then you might consider going into an IT support role and building and repairing server computers in an enterprise (large corporate) environment. The intellectual challenges will be higher, and so will the resulting pay. However, you will likely be required to complete formal courses in computer server technology. The benefit is that your career path will leave you with a lot of options: you can remain in roles where you continue to do hands-on building and repair work, or you could opt to go into management positions.