What Is a Computer Operator? (With Types and Skills)
Updated 26 January 2023
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A computer operator is a professional who controls the operation of computer networks and ensures that equipment and systems are functioning efficiently. Computer operators have a wide variety of job opportunities in almost all industries. Becoming a computer operator also allows for sufficient room for specialisation and, consequently, higher earning potential. In this article, we discuss what is a computer operator, what their duties are and what skills and qualifications they may need to perform their job well.
What is a computer operator?
A computer operator is someone who can have several specific job roles related to computer operation. Depending on their specialisation, operators may also be known as:
Systems software specialists
Related: What Is a Computer Programmer? Definition and Career Advice
What is the role of a computer operator?
Computer operators supervise and operate computer hardware, software and information networks in accordance with the prescribed codes of practice. They are in charge of installing and maintaining a company's computer systems and networks, often diagnosing hardware and software issues. Every industry requires computer operators to maintain an inventory of their hardware and ensure that all components work properly at all times. These are some common tasks for computer operators:
Assessing the computational needs of a client or company
Managing supply inventory
Initiating programs by inputting computer commands
Addressing equipment malfunctions and software problems
Ensuring the security of computer networks of an organisation
Changing machine settings when the need arises
Carrying out preventive maintenance like installation of antivirus software and ad blockers
Configuring desktops and other hardware components
Replying to client inquiries and issues
Collaborating with the IT team for updates and modifications
Generating, recording and interpreting data
Performing documentation as required
Skills required for computer operators
If you want to become a computer operator, you may consider developing the following skills:
Computer operators are required to find realistic solutions to the problems that their clients face. They often develop methodical strategies to identify areas for improvement in computer systems. They may also be involved in repair and maintenance activities that involve addressing unforeseen issues.
Computer operators use their analytical skills to read and interpret raw data to make inferences. They have to correlate findings and gain useful insights, which may potentially solve errors and problems. The ability to work with and process large volumes of data is beneficial in this field.
Maintaining inventory for hardware and software components requires good organisational skills. Computer operators may also have diverse tasks to perform throughout the day. They must keep their schedules and workspaces organised to avoid confusion. They may also need to handle the storage and nomenclature of file systems.
Operators require verbal and written communication skills in order to convey complex technical concepts to clients. They also need to communicate with other professionals like retailers, customers, software engineers and IT managers to perform some of their daily roles. Written communication skills can be useful when you have to prepare well-formatted reports for others to examine.
Attention to detail
Computer operators may have to memorise or note hardware and software specifications for future reference. They should have good attention to detail to avoid mishaps and wasting time. Attention to detail is also important for maintaining inventories and fully understanding client requirements.
Advanced computer literacy
Computer operators benefit from having a thorough knowledge of computer hardware, software and its applications. They also require a working knowledge of spreadsheets, cloud architecture and word processing software. It is important to note that the level of computer literacy required for different industries may vary. For example, in some industries, computer operators may need to know how to write code to make back-end interventions. In some industries, operators may have to focus more on physical assembly and installation tasks.
Programming and coding capabilities are not mandatory to become a computer operator, but they can allow you to develop solutions on your own for specific problems that clients encounter. Having a basic knowledge of relevant programming languages can help you work around bugs and errors in the software you use. By improving your programming skill, you can also specialise in domains like back-end development, data security and network administration.
Related: Computer Skills: Definition and Example
Qualifications for a computer operator
You may need to pursue the following qualifications to become a computer operator:
Higher secondary education
You need to at least complete your higher secondary education to apply for computer operator jobs. To pursue undergraduate courses in the science field, you may require 50% aggregate marks in your 10 + 2 from a recognised board. Employers often prefer candidates who studied subjects like physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science.
Bachelor's degree or diploma
After your 10 + 2, you may consider pursuing a bachelor's degree or a diploma course in computer science or a related field. Popular courses include BSc (Bachelor of Science) in computer applications, BA (Bachelor of Arts) in computer applications, BTech (Bachelor of Technology) in computer science engineering or IT. These courses have the potential to equip students with relevant knowledge regarding software design, operating systems and the basic aspects of computer applications.
Related: How To Share Your Education Background
You may require a few years of work experience to apply for positions in large companies and reputed institutions. Work experience also greatly improves your earning potential as a computer operator. You may want to apply for an entry-level role to get started in the field.
Related: How To Write Work Experience on Your CV
Consider pursuing certifications from recognised institutions to improve your employability. For instance, you can pursue the Certificate in Office Computer Operator course from IISDT (Indian Institute of Skill Development Training) or the Computer Operator and Programming Assistant (COPA) certification offered by Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across the country. Certifications are more cost-effective than formal degrees, and they allow you to enter the workforce immediately after your 10 + 2.
What are the different types of computer operators?
Computer operators may work on specific aspects of computer systems in large organisations. Due to the diversity of tasks they may be entrusted with, they tend to specialise in certain aspects of computer operation in which they are experienced or interested. The domains within computer operation create job roles such as:
With a boom in the cloud computing infrastructure, the demand for mainframe operators has increased significantly. Individuals and companies prefer to outsource their hardware requirements to companies that allow them to access their services and infrastructure through the cloud. Mainframe operators may oversee the functioning of large data storage systems or server farms to which multiple parties may be connected. Large firms may have their own mainframe and network infrastructure that requires maintenance occasionally.
Network administrators ensure that private or public internet networks remain functional and efficient. They troubleshoot network connectivity issues and recommend hardware and software fixes. They are also involved in the installation, testing and maintenance of network infrastructure. Network administrators provide employees of a company with the credentials, access and resources they require to perform their job roles.
Network support executive
Network support is typically a customer-facing role where you communicate with customers and clients to find solutions to specific problems that they face. It involves more diagnosis and consultation tasks compared to fieldwork and can be done remotely. Some companies may, however, require executives to follow up and perform physical installations or maintenance for clients. Network support executives may develop long-standing relationships with clients and may develop a detailed understanding of their networking needs.
A computer operator who works as a database manager may create or modify computer databases. The operator may also be in charge of formulating and executing safety measures to secure a data system. Another crucial aspect of this profession is data preservation and backup. Hardware tools related to data storage tend to be at risk of failure from time to time, and database managers help companies cope with such losses of information.
User support specialist
This is another customer-facing role where you may have to help customers solve their day-to-day problems in the domain of computer applications. This includes aiding customers in installing and connecting devices to their computers, connecting their computers to public or private networks, troubleshooting for operational issues and suggesting remedies. Support specialists should have a comprehensive knowledge of their company's services, products and infrastructure to give useful tips to users.
How much do computer operators make?
The average base salary of a computer operator is ₹2,20,201 per year. This figure can increase depending on your qualifications, skills and work experience. Computer operators may work in-house for companies or as independent contractors for multiple clients. Both these avenues have their own pros and cons. For example, in-house employees may enjoy benefits like insurance and paid time off. Independent contractors may be able to increase the size of their client base and improve their earning potential significantly over time.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
Please note that none of the companies or certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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