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Mandated Regulation/Certification for Computer Repair?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the it's-still-a-young-industry...give-it-time dept.

Editorial 839

josquint asks: "Does the Computer Service/Repair field need to be regulated? This is a question I asked myself after spending a day off from my position as Lead Technician at a local computer shop, in an auto repair shop and a hair salon. In both places, I noted that all the employees had their trade credentials displayed for all customers to see. They are not only displayed as a matter of pride or to gain customer trust (as my A+ and Network Security certificate is) but as a matter of law. This regulation, to me, makes sense. If you're going to pay good money to have your automobile repaired, it better be by someone trained and proficient at doing it (otherwise I might as well do it myself!). Also, there is a matter of safety --an error in repairing a car can easily result in injury or death of quite a few people, so some accountability is needed. The salon regulation, to me at first, seemed like the usual overkill large government regulation. However, it too is a matter of safety to the clients, as the chemicals and equipment (tanning beds especially) can also do harm if used incorrectly. Would you view regulation or mandatory certification as a good thing in the computer repair/installation/maintenance world? What kind of regulation would you like to see, if any? How and at what level would it be implemented and enforced?"

"I personally would like something that requires certain basic certifications for the techs themselves, and possibly something to do with retail shop areas (use of static mats, data backup procedures, etc). And enforced at the State level similar to most small business type codes.

I wouldn't have a problem following some such type of regulation, and probably wouldn't need to do much if anything to make code. I do a fair share of cleaning up after fly-by-night companies/consultants/johnny's-14-year-old nephew-that-really-knows-computers. It costs a lot of the local businesses serious money to replace lost data and sub-standard equipment. I just completed a total system replacement at a clinic that had the system replaced about 2 months ago. It cost them over $10,000 for a system the should have been close to $3,500, but they had to replace the first replacement due to a consultant that had no experience or knowledge in that type of system trying to put one in.

While regulation wouldn't solve everything, I think it might cut down on the riff-raff and wannabes in an industry that many businesses can't do without as they can't do without electricity."

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First Post (tm) (-1, Troll)

Herr_Nightingale (556106) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049643)

First logged-in post baby yeah!!
Suck it Trebek!

Fucking eh. Go Canada.

Re:First Post (tm) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049665)

First reply - intelligent comment = L O S E R

Re:First Post (tm) (-1)

p00p (630992) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049679)

right behind ya buddy Go Go GO!!
Second post out tha gate and closing in fast, it's p00p springing from behind to take the lead!
but this race is far from over, as Herr_Nightingale appears to be catching up.. HN snipes second wind and it's Herr_Nightingale first and p00p third by a hair to some relevant bloke dammitall but that's how it goes thanks for coming out guys hope you all had a great time i've got to go now ok goodbye!

Re:First Post (tm) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049700)

Canadians are laminated squid twats

fuck canada nothing but a big suburb of america

In The Land Of The Elves, (-1, Troll)

IcyHotStuntazerlicio (639936) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049646)

In The Land Of The Elves, Everyone has a Frist Psot.

definitely (2, Flamebait)

twisty7867 (542048) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049651)

If you can't fix my $100 sink without a license, why should you be able to fix my $3000 computer?

Re:definitely (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049687)

Why would you actually pay someone to fix your computer? Can't you do it yourself?

Re:definitely (5, Insightful)

Faggot (614416) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049690)

Because if your $100 sink gives way, you can have $50000+ of water damage to contend with.... whereas on a computer the stakes are usually much lower.

For important systems, get certified techs. For Joe Everyman, there's usually no need -- esp. with all the cheap underage (high school) proficient labor around. :)

Re:definitely (5, Insightful)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049796)

Because if your $100 sink gives way, you can have $50000+ of water damage to contend with.... whereas on a computer the stakes are usually much lower.

We could argue back and forth about the monetary value of my personal data and files, as well as my user account credentials for online services, which could be damaged/destroyed/compromised if I were to take my system in for service. I'd say that's a fairly large liability, wouldn't you?

Suppose I run my own legitimate business at home from my computer? That's a pretty hefty burden to deal with if the shop I take my system to screws it up. You could say that it's my responsibility to keep backups of my data, but I'd just as easily say it's the shop's responsibility to make sure that they don't break what isn't already broken. You know...the ol' Hippocratic oath - "First, do no harm."

Re: because (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049696)

Your $3,000 computer isn't hooked to the public water delivery system on one end and the public sewer system on the other.

Re: because (-1)

Asdfghanistan (590625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049760)


Re: because (2)

pediddle (592795) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049823)

Slashdot has turned into quite a public sewer. Does that count?

Seriously, I guess the main argument here is that breaking a computer won't cause damage beyond the computer itself (and its contents). It won't kill you.

I'm not sure though that there shouldn't be certification. The biggest problem is that there would be too many different technologies to certify, and the technology evolves extremely rapidly. Would this be different than having different certifications for each automobile manufacturure? I guess I don't know about these things...

As long as any repair shop I can take my computer to has a sufficient guarantee that they will reimburse or replace the results of any damage caused by the repair, I'm happy without certification. Again, there are no damage or life-threatening situations to be created by a bad repair. And if you have valuable data on your hard drive that you don't want to get wiped, then it is still possible to take it to a high-end repair shop with a better guarantee.

Re:definitely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049784)

If a plumber screws up, a house can be flooded. This does not apply to computer techs. The problems are not of an immediate health/safety nature, unless it is a hospital computer or a nuclear reactor computer. but we are not talking about hospital computers or nuclear reactor computers here. We are talking about general home computer/personal business computer tech support. The idea of a madatory license is superfluous and wasteful. Plus the technology which will be the subject of some sort of government (more taxes) certification program is of the nature of changing very quickly. Every three months products which never existed before appear on the market. In one year's time things are almost completely different. Plus do you want to pay the increase in price that a "licensed" tech support person will cost you? I don't. I think this idea is stupid.

Re:definitely (2, Informative)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049806)

If you backflow from groundwater or the sewer system, you can poison and kill hundreds of people.

certification? (5, Funny)

chimpo13 (471212) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049656)

Computer certification would be GREAT! We've all seen that there's no dishonest mechanics.

Regulation makes it MORE difficult... (2, Insightful)

quadra (2289) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049672)

Simply because a location has gov't approval you'll assume they're qualified.. which is really harmful to the consumer. (because guess what, they're not!) We should rely on a shop's reputation built up over many years of good service to decide.

Not the same thing... (5, Insightful)

AlphaOne (209575) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049684)

An automobile mechanic is certified and licensed because there are safety issues that can be fatal when a mechanic performs their duties improperly.

Similarly, a hair stylist has sanitation concerns that must be met to provide a germ-free and safe environment.

A computer technician normally troubleshoots and diagnoses systems that do not have concerns of this type.

Granted, there are occasions when a system is critical to the functioning of a system of this type, such as elevators, but most of those functions are licensed anyway, so the technology must be certified, rather than the technician.

Safety Issue (5, Funny)

Shamanin (561998) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049794)

"An automobile mechanic is certified and licensed because there are safety issues that can be fatal when a mechanic performs their duties improperly."

Yeah, well when I am playing BF1942 and get shot up due to a poorly responding NIC driver or a fragged drive I want some sort of accountability. It IS a safety issue.

If for nothing else, do it for the children.

Re:Not the same thing... (4, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049795)

I agree. These things involve health and safety hazards -- chemicals, in the case of the salon, and your brakes in the case of cars.

Computer repair is pretty trivial, by comparison.

What you've got in those cases might be protections in the form of implied warranties of merchantability ... I don't know what the specific equivalents for services might be, but you might want to look in the Uniform Commercial Code.

Also, whenever I sign a freelance contract, there's often a clause in there that says something along the lines of, "the vendor (me) warrants that his services are competent" -- in other words, if I screw up completely and they can satisfy a court that I didn't really know what I was talking about from the get-go, then they don't have to pay me at all. In fact, I may owe them for what I screw up. Rather than looking for the government to pass more laws regulating independent businesses, you might want to look for more along these lines when you sign an agreement with a repair guy.

Exactly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049805)

a hair stylist has sanitation concerns that must be met to provide a germ-free and safe environment ... a computer technician normally troubleshoots and diagnoses systems that do not have concerns of this type

Despite the estimated cost of computer viruses and worms, there really is no real comparrison between a tech going around with a disk infected by a virus and a hair stylist using the same comb for subsequent customers after giving a do to a person with head lice, ring worm, or any of the other cute little critters that can live on one's head.

At least not yet. ;)

Re:Not the same thing... (1)

MaxwellStreet (148915) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049835)

Actually, the legal certification of professionals has traditionally taken place for two different reasons.

In the case of lawyers, doctors, and accountants - the government requires a license to ensure the practitioner's competence.

In the case of hair stylists, auto mechanics, plumbers (I think), and other occupations with lesser educational requirements, the licensing process is there for a business license/tax revenue purpose. I suppose it may also serve the purpose of keeping out people who are only casual about cutting hair professionally.

Government certification requirements are usually an either-or: either as a statement of competence when providing professional services - or simply as a stamp of having paid your licensing tax.

What a great idea... (1)

Galahad (24997) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049685)

This will be workable as soon as the computer industry becomes as stagnant as the automobile industry.

this is a stupid idea (1)

Random Frequency (34459) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049689)

And would only work on standardized components. And we already have certifications for this, RHCE, MSCE, A+, Oracle, Cisco's certs, Sun's certs, HPCE, etc.

It is up to the employer to be versed in the manners of knowing how to hire a professional to service their equipment. The same applies to cars (said legislation doesn't prevent people from being ripped off on car repairs, for example.).

No regulation. (3, Funny)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049691)

Is this article flamebait?

There are too many idiots working in PC repair. If it were regulated they'd all be out of jobs.

Re:No regulation. (0)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049780)

Are you suggesting that John Q. Pointanddrool loses his machine after a dumbass high school student ruins the machine via ESD?

A+ certified people are the dumbest of the field.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049692)

A+ certified people are the dumbest of the field..

Certifications are a waste, since only the unskilled seem to go after them.

Look at MCSE MCSA and A+

Re:A+ certified people are the dumbest of the fiel (5, Insightful)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049772)

"Certifications are a waste, since only the unskilled seem to go after them. Look at MCSE MCSA and A+"

When I worked for DEC they had a rule, "A+ or your ass is gone." To keep a job, certs come in real handy. To get a (new) job, certs come in real handy, too. Some employers (prospective or otherwise) may not care about how long you've done something, or if you've been in the field forever, but if you have the cred to "prove it."

Re:A+ certified people are the dumbest of the fiel (1)

holysin (549880) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049790)

I agree in part with this.... *ALL* certifications aren't a waste, but the A+ certification sure as h*ll is, esp for people with more then a year of experience. The trouble with (most) MCSEs are that they are book smart, but lack the experience to "think outside the box". Some CNE's are the same way (not as many though), so it's not purely a M$ problem (M$ now runs the A+ cert if I'm not mistaken... talk about the donkey and the cart....) Or perhaps I'm just annoyed by jobs requiring an MCSE and an A+ certification... Maybe I should get my MCSE, but I know that shortly after taking those 7+ tests M$ will finally release the XP MCSE track... UGH!!!

sounds like a great idea (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049695)

Are you sick of having techs who only got thier job through someone they know, not what they know?

Good slogan for it :P

Nope (5, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049699)

Personally I'm against any kind of legal controls on business unless there is a huge case that those controls are necessary (not nice to have).

The things I see in the cases above are people who make bad choices and ignore the simplest of common sense when hiring someone to do any kind of work.

This would just add costs to those who want to do the work- which would get passed on to the customer and drive out the little guy who doesn't have the time or money to get a 'license' to fix computers.

Not to mention the possible legal hassles for helping someone out.


a+ makes you proficient? (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049703)

experience is the big thing in computers.. although if you have had experience then passing a+ is no proplem, course just because someone is a+ certified doesn't mean i trust them to fix my computer.. if i had a problem with my computer i couldn't fix myself i'd want someone with a little more than a+.. i'd say a+ should be the minmal requirement for the idiots at circuit city and futureshop that defrag yuor harddrive for $40.. it's time to raise the bar.

Re:a+ makes you proficient? (2)

zaqattack911 (532040) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049757)

I totally agree.

I can't help but snicker everytime I see some punk bragging about A+ (or even MSCE).

It's more of a trap so dumb people end up spending money on a certificate that they beleive will land them more jobs.

Even more annoying is management usually falls for it.

Re:a+ makes you proficient? (1)

ManUMan (571203) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049830)

I worked for almost three years in a repair shop. I agree that experience is the best way to learn about these types of things. More than that, I leared more by being apprenticed to the head tech then I would have learned by attending classes.

The problem is that it is hard to really quantify the amount of experience one has with computer hardware. Some people seem to have more inate talent for troubleshooting systems then others. For instance some of the techs I worked with were as clueless after 4 months as they were at the begining. Others picked things up quickly.

All of that to say that our senario where junior techs were apprenticed to senior techs worked well. It was effecient as we could always ask questions and it also made the environment more fun to work in. I never picked up an a+ certification and even though I continue to repair hardware I am not interested in aquiring the certification since it won't help me in my current job situation.

Good/Bad (1)

DSL-Admin (597132) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049704)

I think it's a double edged sword.. Being Certified doesn't mean you can do it. I once had an MCSE ask me what port Telnet ran on. Not Being Certified doesn't mean you're an idiot. I've seen people blow away cert's and not have a single cert themselves. I would think for it to mean anything, a whole new system would need to be devised. Good Idea though, I see too many people that don't know their job (and lie to customers), and make more money than me.

Yeah.. Like MCSE would mean something? (1)

TheCeltic (102319) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049705)

I have my MCSE (and CCNA, and Solaris) Certification. Requiring a certificate doesn't ensure quality in any industry... especially computers. Just like the large number of "bad" mechanics, "certified" professionals in the PC world don't allow us to filter the "wheat from the chaff"... only good judgement does.

Why Mandated? (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049707)

Why can't it be voluntary, and the consumer can decide if they want to use a certified/licensed one and pay the $ or a cheaper unlicensed one? Because the consumers are mostly idiots?

The top 10 FAILIRES of open source (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049708)

10) PCI modem support (why dosent my modem work mom?)
09) Tux kart (Worst. game. ever)
08) Nautilius (bloated and slow, konqueror and 'ls' beat it with their eyes shut)
07) Openbsd (one remote hole in seven years, and the openbsd server runs on solaris)
06) Gstreamer (Who needs anything else but mplayer these days)
05) GNOME (everyone uses kde these days, this is just a waste of time
04) Slashcode (Phpnuke beats it with a cluestick!)
03) Mozilla (MSHTML FOR WIN32, KHTML for lin32, webcore for bsd/osx, who needs gecko)
02) Debian (an utter JOKE)

and the number one!

GNU HURD (still no ps/2 mice support, after 12 years of development)

Whose certificates shall be accepted? (2)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049710)

I'm gonna ramble a bit here...

Should we have a congolmerate authority?
Or perhaps a list of accepted certs?
Or one cert to rule them all...?
Will there be a hierarchy or certs (my cert is better than your cert.)

In the end you may open up a can o' worms. But some regulation is needed, yes. How about a union? (but I don't want to pay dues, cuz that sux, so perhaps that's out as well.) I'd also like to see a unified pricing code as well.

All you need is your A+ and Network Security certs (5, Funny)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049711)

If the gov't is going to require certification, all you need is your A+ and Network Security certs. You know how "advanced" the A+ is with all of it's DOS and Windows 3.1 questions.

Anyone who passes these tests is definately qualified to repair my computer running my favorite flavor of *BSD or Linux!

WELL, (5, Insightful)

_ph1ux_ (216706) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049713)

I dont think the actual maintainance needs regulation as much as customer service in general - for all industries.

Frys for example has horrendous levels of bad/returned equipment (because the purchase and resell refurbs and returns and bad equipment side-by-side at the same prices as real brand new equipment) and they tend to have very very poor customer service.

I would rather have a level of customer service that should be expected from any and all customers - maybe even regulating the return/exchange policies....

If all companies were required to have their customer service entities live of to an expected level of performance/satisfaction it would do wonders for trust and consumer satisfaction in general.

I cannot tell you how angry it makes me when I deal with difficult, deceptive or rude customer service agents.

Do you really want an MCSE fixing your computer? (2, Insightful)

danlyke (149938) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049717)

Think about it: Do you really want an MCSE fixing your computer? Licensing mandates a certain minimum competency, but in practice it means that all people fixing computers operate at that minimum competency. And you know that the big players like CompUSA are going to get involved in the licensing process in a way that makes their employees get the certification easier than independents.

Even if it means I have to be an informed consumer, I'd much rather have choice and make my own decisions. With choice there will be reasons for the good people to stay in the field.

big government sucks ass (1)

cmark (102807) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049718)

No damn way do you want government regulation involved in fixing a computer!!!!
Give me a damn break, any idiot can follow the instructions to build a computer usually easier than putting together that cheap furniure you buy at Target.
Fixing some software problem will rarely if ever harm the hardware so protecting your investment is silly, and if you did your damn backups you should have nothing to lose.
And as computers become ubiquitus where would it stop??? I can just see it now, mother sues her son billy for working on the toaster without a license!

The difference is criticalness (2)

Pyromage (19360) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049723)

In your car, it is critical that your car be fixed properly. If it is not, it may explode and kill you and your family.

As you mentioned for the salon also, there are safety implications. Chemicals used wrong could hurt you. Tanning beds could have severe consequences.

Now, your computer won't explode and kill you're family. You're keyboard won't start glowing and irradiate you and give you cancer, like a tanning bed can easily.

A mechanic must do his job right or else you may die. If I screw up your computer, you may lose information. You may not be able to forward chain letters. You may not be able to talk to Aunt Millie on AIM.

But you won't *DIE*. That's a massive difference that should be recognized.

A+? (2)

reaper20 (23396) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049724)

to gain customer trust (as my A+ and Network Security certificate is)

"Certifications" like A+ are the reason our industry is plagued by morons.

An auto mechanic cert has to be half-way decent, since lives depend on it. But as long as you can buy a computer cert from an infomercial on TV, they're worthless.

Who cares.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049727)

An A+ doesn't mean you know your ass from a hole in the ground.. Anybody that brags about having an A+ is an idiot.

There are incompetent people with A+ certifications, there are incredibly comptetent people without any certifications at all.

Sure! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049730)

Yeah! We'll let Microsoft administer the certifications and make 'em all MCSE's! That way, it's all uniform, Microsoft get's it's grubby little monopolistic hands in on the action and there's legions upon legions of MCSE's running around out there that have absolutely no clue.

Oh wait a second. That's already happened.

Certs don't mean much in the retail world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049731)

I worked a summer once at computer city (like compusa) they had A+ techs there and only they could work on people computers. They had signs up saying we are A+ certified and others basiclly showing off they were certified techs working on your computer to help justify that 100 dollar installation price of ram or a harddrive. I found that the techs knew very little and I ended up actually telling them how to fix peoples computers in some cases. To get a certification you have to pass a test, and we all know its not hard to pass a test and still know nothing. I think its pointless.

hardware or software? (1)

dogas (312359) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049732)

Creating a standardized type of licensing for hardware issues would be easy, but what about software issues? There's lots of certifications, lots of OSs, lots of programs that are broken and need to be fixed/reinstalled/patched/etc.

Separating the hardware issues from the software issues would make it possible to impelement a standardized type of licensing. (for hardware issues, anyways.)

Work for hire (2)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049735)

Many tasks that are done recreationally and for hire have different laws.
You can do first aid at home, for someone in an emergency without legal problems. You shouldn't be a paid first aider without proper training/certification.
A private pilot license is much cheaper then the commercial license.
Anyone can work on their own car, only a licenced mechanic can sell their service.
You can cut your own hair, you can cut your friends hair. You can't open a salon without the certification.

I think computer repair should be regulated similarly. To sell computer repair, you need to have a license/certification/training.
To fix your own, or to "help a friend" you don't.

No way... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049738)

Terrible idea.

Certifications already exist... but.... (1)

Tmack (593755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049739)

I dont think they should be required. I worked as a computer repair tech for about a year between jobs, and have never been certified. Most stuff I learned through building my computers, friends' computers, computers for work, etc, and acting as tech support for some of them. Some repair shops require certification for employment, and use it for advertising. The fact is, some of those certifications are almost a joke. Next time you're in a book store read through an A+ book. If all you know is what it requires to get a certification, you will not be a good repair tech. There is ALOT of stuff that you learn through experience that no book can teach.


Make it optional and known and they will all do it (2)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049740)

I think that instead of making people display such accredidation it should be optional. BUT, there should also be some central form/way of distinguishing an accredited IT person from another. If you do this and make it known to those who will make use of their services then it is in the IT persons best interest to get and display their accredidation.

I think this should apply to software engineers as well as system maintenance people.

The biggest problem being that there is little centralization and validation of such accrediation, at least for software.

Nice idea... maybe (1)

mrtorrent (598803) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049746)

This might be helpful, but a lot of little shops don't go to the trouble of coming up with "data backup procedures" and such, they just do whatever it takes. In some cases, this is good, because the employees are knowledgeable and skilled, in other cases, it's terrible, because they don't know how to do anything except buy new parts or break old ones.. In any case, requiring a certification would put a lot of people out. I'd rather see some sort of definitive/rigorous computer certification that would give customers assurance of the person's skill. The A+ certification is the only relevant one that I know of, and from what I've seen, it's a complete joke. My 10 year-old brother has breezed through a variety of A+ practice exams, and I really wouldn't trust him to fix my computer.

I'd go for less regulation, and not more (3, Interesting)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049747)

I don't think regulating mechanics, hairdressers, or computer repairmen does much to help the public. If a "professional" doesn't know what he's doing, he's not going to be in business very long. If he makes a mistake that injures you phyiscally or financially, you can sue him.

These sort of regulations are sold to the public as "protection." In fact, they're put in place by politicians in the pockets of established businesses to remove the lower rungs from the ladder of success for others. They make it cost that much more to get in business and compete with them.

Try this some time. You've got a car, and you know how to drive. There are people without cars, who need to get places. Put a sign on your car that says "Taxi," drive around, and offer to take people to where they need to go for a reasonable price. Be safe, courteous, and take good care of your car. See how long it takes before the cops shut you down. There are some cities where the fees to get a taxi cab medallion are in the tens of thousands of dollars. Hairdresses may wind up spending $5000 on completely unnecessary certifications. Protecting the public? A little, maybe...protecting bigger, already established businesses from cheap competition? Oh, yeah...

It's important because... (5, Funny)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049749)

There no ordinary dust bunnies in computers! They have a mean streak a mile wide and big, nasty, pointy teeth!! *Puts fingers to lips* ... Look at the bones!

Simplicity of Computer Design (1)

BeowulfSchaeffer (588150) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049751)

Frankly, it is just not that hard to fix a hardware problem considering everything is modular. As for a software problem, well, there is always Format:c

In addition to a certificate of qualification (5, Funny)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049752)

They ALSO need 10 stars on eBay and excellent Karma on /. !

"any society that requires indentification..." (1)

Fedmahn Kassad (586063) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049753)

how can the consumer market or the government regulate devices that it doesnt understand ? and yea i must concur with many of my fellow slashdotters when i say that ive noticed a SEVERE lack of talent and/or skill out of people with 6 certs neatly pinned to their cube wall. regulating that stuff would be wrought with corruption and pay-offs and unconscious paycheck collectors. not that it already isnt, it would just institutionalize the process, a friggin' nightmare.

Scenario (5, Insightful)

CommieLib (468883) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049756)

Hey Jeff, could you come over and take a look at my computer?

Sorry man, I could get in real trouble if I work on your computer. I don't have a license...

Certification = idiot-detterent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049758)

I'm currently a sophomore Computer Science major at a small Univerisity, and I am constantly amazed at how many students declare a CS (and MIS) major with dollar signs in their eyes. Many of these people eek their way through classes (often times carried by their brighter classmates) and end up with the same degree that the top of the class earns. If a tough-certification process were put in place, I'd be willing to bet that half of my classmates would drop out or switch majors. Ideally, this would prevent some of the flood of tech-workers and maybe even raise salaries a bit?

Licensing computer repairmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049762)

Many licenses that are issued serve primarily to restrict entry into the field and limit competition rather than protect the public, e.g. barbers.

Safety is not the only concern here... (2)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049763)

Regardless of saftey matters, some sort of licensing might be a good idea, if only to prevent people being charged outrageous prices by people who are incompetent and cause more damage than they fix

won't work (2, Insightful)

wantedman (577548) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049764)

How can we tell how well a computer science person is?

Just because I do OpenGL for a living, does that make me A+ certified? Or because I cannot do Linux Admin to save my life, am I not qualified?

Computer knowledge requires too many differnt areas of knowledge, since, by nature, they are a general purpose machine. The things that need certifications, do already, (MSIE, SUN security, Java, C++). I don't think there can be a law that requires me to be certified in computers, because ultimitly it would be a certification in many general subject that most I will never use in my Job or any job in the future I may have...(or forgotten by the time I get my new job :))

Regulate, Control, Oppress, Profit (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049769)

Regulation of computer repair, ah, the possibilities...

"Your computer doesn't support Palladium, sir, you must 'upgrade' or we'll have to notify the government."


"Oh, back in them days we just handed your server off to an available teenage nerd and charged $50/Hr for repairs. Now that all our technicians are board certified it'll be $250/Hr for repairs, but you can rest easier at night."

UNSIGNED DRIVER INSTALLED - U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been notified, please turn yourself in to reduce expense of taxpayer dollars in tracking you down and hitting you repeatedly with a bat, you filthy terrorist!

It's a brave new world...

The whole cert thing is about money (2, Insightful)

jj_johny (626460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049770)

Its about money going to the cert companies, training companies and testing companies. Which I wouldn't mind if it really meant something. These guys have pushed certs for so long just to make sure there was support for their product and to pocket a bunch of change. Does it really cost $500 per student per day to put on a class? Don't think so. Does it really cost $150 per hour to run a testing station? Don't think so.

And the license that you need to run a business is all about money that the local government wants.

So count me out on the added taxes hassles and overall mess.

PS: I could I get a little off the top, trim it so the hair is off the ears and trim up the back. ;)

NO! It's a fancy word for TAX (2, Interesting)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049773)

I don't feel the need to pay some govt organization for the right to call myself qualified if I am already qualified. This is just as bad as the "Microsoft Tax" of getting an MCSE or something similar. If someone makes mistakes on the job, then they answer for it like usual. Certification doesn't change that, and accidents will happen anyway.

With the way the computer industry operates, this will just become yet ANOTHER tax. You will have to pay every so often for a piece of paper that says you are good-to-go. You are being taxed to work in this industry. Don't fall for it. It's hard enough to have to keep up with new technology, do you want to have to pay even more than you already do to keep up?

Besides, I'm unemployed and broke. I can't afford it right now :)

certified != good (or even competent) (5, Insightful)

deadsquid (535515) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049774)

I've taken my car to certified service centres, and been taken to the cleaners.

I've had many bad haircuts.

I've met lots of people who are MCSE's who are clueless.

All the certifications mean is that someone has demonstrated to someone else that they can regurgitate material that has been laid out for them. It doesn't mean they can apply the knowledge to real world situations.

I go to organizations that have a good reputation, I've had good experience with, or my friends/peers have had good experience with. If I have a bad experience with them, I move elsewhere.

I like the system. It works. Sometimes I get burned, but for the most part I'm happy because I use common sense.

Mandated Regulation/Certification for Computer Rep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049775)

Mandated Regulation/Certification for Computer Repair?!!! more like celda

why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049776)

there is a large difference between a car and a computer: you cant crash your computer into someone and kill them because it doesnt work correctly. there is also that similar reason for all manditory certification: in some way it could hurt someone if the technician/mechanic was not certified. Certification being manditory for computer repair would put alot of people out of a job, and that is bad.

Mandated certification is restraint of trade (2)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049777)

As a consumer I should be looking for people who have certification or experience in the fields they represent to ensure that I have the best that my money can buy.

However, mandating by law that you need it before you can do it is just a restraint of trade obstacle put up by people who want to limit the competition they have. Look at the legal field, for example. A lot of legal work can easily be done by experienced non-lawyers, but not legally.

The same is true of the medical profession. I'm not interested in non-PhD medical attention, but I don't think that means that some people shouldn't have that option, especially if someone with lesser credentials can treat minor health problems for a lot less money.

Instead of mandating certification, I'd be more in favor of a "malpractice" solution. If you claim you can do X and are in the business of doing X and you screw up, then you owe me double damages or something that would provide a strong disincentive for dishonesty or incompetance.

Do you really think it would help? (5, Interesting)

bziman (223162) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049781)

Granted, I work in software, but we've got a bunch of yahoos here with degrees in CS, and some with Masters and PhDs who are just too lazy to code well.

Then we have some people with no formal training who know there stuff and work hard and produce great work.

Similarly, we have folks who have "certifications" that are absolutely meaningless.

Same with our hardware people -- our 17-year-old interns know more about this stuff than the MCSEs.

All this does is make it harder for an independent artisan to make a living -- I don't want Intel's stamp of approval. The only approval I need is a legion of satisfied customers who tell their friends and colleagues and word spreads and reputation builds -- like in the old days before you could "buy" a certification.

While you're studying for A+ or MCSE, there's some 14-year-old with a soldering iron, learning the hard way how to fix a faulty IDE control, and a 12-year-old decompiling the NT kernel to figure out why his graphics card causes a BSoD. And in ten or fifteen years old, your certification will be obsolete, and if you're lucky, you'll be working for the now-29-year-old VP of engineering.

Certification=OK. Mandatory=Bad. (1)

I'm a racist. (631537) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049782)

I have no problem with certification programs. They all have varying degrees of trustworthiness to them, so it's a "buyer beware" situation. If you go to an auto mechanic, and you see he's got his ASE (is that the right one?) you can possibly expect him to be better than someone without it. It also means that the certified guy can charge a premium, thus providing you some incentive to go with el-cheapo.

Personally, I don't put a whole lot of faith in certifications. I've picked up a few in my time, even though I was rather clueless on the subject when I took the test. Your mileage may vary.

I would often rather do something myself, or get someone I know to help me do it (if not outright do it for me). Then again, sometimes you'll need specialized equipment. I'll get a doctor to do an EKG, MRI, x-ray, etc. But I'm quite comfortable checking blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and so on, myself (thus I get checkups less frequently than most, and save time while there by telling my doctor my own results/observations/measurements).

There's also the consideration of what my time is worth. If I can get someone to fix something for me, for let's say $20-$30/hr, and it would take me a significant amount of time, I may pay just for the convenience.

The consumer should have enough education to recognize the value of certifications when they are shopping for a service (people often don't consider selecting a service the same as selecting a tangible product). Once you start implementing government mandates, then you've fucked things up (if I want to go with someone without credentials for my service, that's my business). Besides, I'll pick up a sizeable chunk of cash every so often by fixing some dumbass' PC for them (I would never do that for a career, but spending a few hours a year doing it and getting $1k for all that time is certainly worthwhile). A government mandate might cut me (or you) out of doing something like that.

Auto repair analogy. (1)

doppleganger871 (303020) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049785)

ASE Certification hasn't helped the quality of auto repair at all. I find most shops really don't care about quality, they're just there to get the vehicle in, quick fix, and get it out. I've often had to go back for issues. For instance: Two broken wheel studs and lug nuts that didn't seem any more than hand tight. I normally check the torque on my lugs a week or so after swapping wheels/tires for the winter, but after getting them balanced at a shop, the lugs damn near fell off.

This is the reason I do most of the work on my truck, and ALL of the work on my computer myself. I dont even trust a computer company to build it right.

Absolute nonsense (5, Insightful)

Caractacus Potts (74726) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049786)

My 20+ years worth of non-licensed troubleshooting is far better than any certification, in my opinion. I routinely fix systems that I have never seen before just because I have a knack for it. I think certification is great, but not necessary.

What are we going to discuss next? How about "should all programmers have CS degrees?".

I vote No. (2, Insightful)

KGIS (307368) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049789)

I can definitely understand where you are coming from but I tend to think that government should stay out of private business because legislating something like this can only lead to hand holding and unnecessary costs.

Now, after I say that, I would not be comfortable walking into any old shop and getting them to work on my computer without either having a recommendation or very visible credentials. This applies even more strongly if I was to blow 20K, 30K or more on computers for my business.

SOVIET MAN SAY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049798)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA, THE Computer Service/Repair field REGULATES YOU!!!!!

Basic Certs are Easy (2)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049799)

Considering that basic certs like the A+ are easy to pass just by memorizing a braindump from the many websites they exist on, I don't think that having one really means that much. Don't take offense if you have it, I have one as well, but it's at the point where it's no different than getting a health card to work in a restaraunt. It's easy to pass the test, but once you have it, you can still pick your nose on the job.

Slight problem. (4, Funny)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049800)

Cars aren't broken out of the factory. But a PC with Windows on it? Doesn't seem to fair to me.

Something needs to be done... (2)

core plexus (599119) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049801)

But I don't have the answer. I can say that I have met a lot of very pissed off people who were burned by computer repair shops large and small, and many had gotten a sour taste after that. However, I also know many people who are or have been burned by lawyers, dentists, auto mechanics, and hair dressers, to name but a few regulated, certified, and supposedly educational requirement driven professions. Then there will always be those who ignore the laws and licensing requirements.

That's Just a Burglar Alarm -- Ignore It! []

makes some sense but... (1)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049804)

with auto repair, it's a no brainer, the credentials should be there no matter what. with a salon, that also makes sense based on the use of hair chemicals and even using sharp objects near someone's head or ears. that can cause serious injury to people. with computer repair, it's a little less necessary i think. there's no immediate danger to people. sure, the investment is huge in a computer system. i wouldn't want some "know it all" consultant installing my $100,000 server. but there's certain responsibility on the consumer's part here. moreso than with auto repair or a salon. you can prefer to only use certified consultants and technicians and ask to see their credentials before hiring or paying for their services. just like you wouldn't walk into any old auto repair shop and just ask them to fix your car without knowing anything about them, you shouldn't just go and hire any old computer technician to repair or install your systems. if it's someone you know and trust, that's great, who cares if they have the credentials if they know what they're doing. but if it's someone you don't know or have no references for, no way of finding out who they are or how they perform, you wouldn't just go and hire them because they're less expensive. you do a little research. also, an important thing to find out is if they are insured. you're paying them to do a job, but if they have no insurance to cover any mistakes they make with your investment, anything that's their own careless fault, then again, you shouldn't hire them because that could be a huge investment down the drain and you have to go and spend the money all over again. but requiring all computer repair people and technicians to display their credentials is crazy, especially since the majority of us are not certified at all, but can still do the job. why should lack of expensive certification keep us from opening a small shop? i don't think the certification is required to repair joe schmoe's old desktop that keeps crapping out on him. i don't think it's necessary to have certification to install a hard drive or some other piece of hardware. that's a big portion of what the smaller shops do and i'd be willing to be that most of them do not have any certifications, because they don't need them. if the comptuer could blow up, then i'd say they should have it, but it can't. having insurance is another story. if they break it even more, they should pay for it no matter what, and even if they won't, you can take them to court and make them pay if they're a real business. for the corporate people, they should ask for the credentials. like a said before, it's a no-brainer.

No (5, Insightful)

Tall Rob Mc (579885) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049808)

Consumers should bear some responsibility for their actions rather than putting even more laws on the books. You shouldn't hire somebody who has no experience setting up certain type of system to build one for you. Period. Sometimes, the burden for getting something done should be placed on the person who needs it, not the government. If you need a computer system, research local consultants and ask for references. There's no reason why the government should have to spend time and money doing something you should be doing yourself.

I bet Microsoft would love this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049812)

The vast majority of computer 'repairs' IME tend to be OS issues, or upgrades; I'm sure that M$ would love the revenue stream from the suck-an-egg training that would surely be legally required to gain such credentials in order to add a new CDROM drive.

Be careful of what you wish for.

No. (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049814)

A computer is a consumer electronics appliance.

When was the last time you took your TV to a legally approved government TV repairman?

You answer your own question (2)

M.C. Hampster (541262) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049817)

There are probably going to be a ton of responses that are redundant on this thread, but mostly because there are only two answers to this question: yes or no.

Put me in the "no" side. As you said, there are valid reasons why there is mandatory certifications required for automative repair and salon work - both of which are public safety. Now, being the libertarian-minded person I am, I don't think that it is necessary, but that is the reasoning behind requiring such certifications from those types of employees. It is very difficult to make the argument for computer repair. If Grandma's computer isn't working and she can't get to her email, people aren't going to get hurt. Now, for mission critical systems, like health care equipment and the like, there are already regulations that govern.

Let the consumer decide if certification is important enough when they choose a computer repairmen. My guess is that, because you are certified, you want the laws changed to help you get more work or be able to charge more for your work. That sounds an awful lot like some of the companies and organizations that are constantly bashed around here.

Best Buy techs & A+ certs. Nothing but the bes (1)

Chicago1002 (639944) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049819)

A+ Ha! Sometimes when I go to Best Buy I watch those techs back there...they really LOOK important. Jeez, its like one step above the fry stand at McDonalds. Those are the guys who not only have the "sticker mods" to their Cavaliers but also a custom head unit.I can't image letting them touch my machine for any reason. Regulations & certifications will not get rid of idiots and clueless hiring manager. Good Stuff!

licensing software engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049820)

Several years ago, NJ tried to pass a bill that would require licensing software engineers. It was quickly boo'ed down.

How 'bout certification for coders (1)

mysterious_mark (577643) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049824)

It seems like all the workmanship problems in the industry are software related, not hardware. As many of you have seen, much of the code out there sucks. If we had more certification, then there would be a tangible difference between sketchy H1-B's who claim (usually incorreclty) that they can write code, and those who are competent coders. No other industry has such a lack of standards as our, we need some way to discriminate between those who are competent, and those who aren't. MM


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049825)

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No, no, no. (2)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049826)

In virtually every field all the license does is create an artificial barrier to entry. Or are you telling me that you've never had (or heard of) a crooked auto mechanic, a bad hair stylist, or a shoddy plumber?

Getting a license is generally little more than paying a fee. Usually there's no testing involved. It's just another revenue source for the county or state. It's also a way to make unionizing more easy, since there's a central registry of everyone in the profession.

Frankly, as far as computer techs go, I've seen plenty of "professional" technicians that don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. And yet they stay working at large outlets like CompUSA, Best Buy, etc. because the customer service there is so crappy it doesn't matter.

Oh, and your licensing isn't going to stop most of the cases you're concerned about. In most states it's legal to do your own auto repair, haircuts, plumbing, electrical work, etc. And you can still call in a pro if you bork it up too much (or go bald/crew cut in the case of the haircut).

So what exactly were you hoping to gain from this?

That's the last thing we need.... (2)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049827)

Enough of regulation, at least where it is not some kind of major Health & Safety issue. Yeah great more tax dollars flushed down the toilet to manage some new government behemoth.

(If an independant group wants to start up a standards organization or something fine, then those who feel more comfortable can go and find certified techs - heh like A+)

How the hell can a state level government keep up with the IT industry? How can they possibly set up any sort of regulatory standards? Better watch it - next thing you know they'll have some crap like "class B computing device, must be compatible with Microsoft Palldium computer environment", well not exactly that, but you get the picture...

Heh you want to see something really funny - check out Canada's federal gun registry. A federal database of firearms - not really *that* big a deal is it? Well it's already cost about $1 Billion, and it's going to costs millions more because it still doesn't work. This is the bang for your buck you get from government! Or how about NASA? And you want them to regulate who fixes computers and how???

I mean, try and even come up with a base set of standards a tech should know - it can't be done.

No More Laws! (1)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049828)

There is already far too much regulation of our lives. Let's not foster this creeping cancer!

Besides, the argument given only works if there exist no bad barbers and no bad mechanics.

Just what we need... (3, Insightful)

rtphokie (518490) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049831)

...the gubmint sticking their noses into an area that changes so often. How often would requirements change I'm guessing not all that often which would make the whole process nearly worthless

...another state government agency

...differentiation between states on certification

...and in the long run, some 3rd party certification company getting rich on certifications that dont mean a hill of beans.

You know things on /. are bad when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049833)

the story is the troll.

In Soviet Russia (-1, Offtopic)

ComradeEnchilada (635542) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049838)

computers regulate YOU!

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5049839)

It would help increase wages for all of us that are certifried. Doctor's and Lawyer's have to be. Look how much they make. If that's the price of addmission then count me in. Mo money.....oooOOOH YEA!

Good Idea (1)

Messenjah (639950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049841)

I know I've had to clean up after many of people and I've known one wookiee that's had to clean up after me. All in all I know alot of idiots in the industry that have flooded the field over the past 4-5 years. The only question is who would regulate such a thing?

Uhhh no (1)

Chicks_Hate_Me (528837) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049842)

I honestly think it's dumb to require people having certification. If I'm a Computer Technician that 20 years experienced and now I'm forced to get certification to "prove myself" by the gubmit I would be pissed. It's totally unnecessary.

Serious, car mechanics usually get customers through reputation, not some ASE sign. Same with Computer Repair Technicians, I would rather have my computer fixed by someone that has 20+ years experience with no certifications than some dope with an MCSE or A+. If a customer is not satisfied with your work, he'd be smart to not come back to you. If you want to find a reputable company start a site like

I don't see computers as a serious health risk, I mean there's a chance that an AMD processor might start smoking, but I don't see how a computer can kill you.

This whole regulation is pointless, it would just be another excuse for the government to unnecessarily intervene with business (and this is coming from a socialist.)

My certifications include ... (3, Insightful)

mustangdavis (583344) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049845)

PCI card swapping

Case assembly

IDE installation

PC case fan installation (I'm working on CPU fans)

SCSI hard drive installs (but not SCSI CDROMS, tape drives, RAIDS, or other SCSI devices)

AGP video cards

PCxxxx memory (but nothing before 1997) and not Rambus memory

Currently working on CPU install and LRF support (little rubber feet)

GIMME A BREAK!!! Fixing a PC is simple ... why should people be forced to waste money on education and licenses for this kind of thing! Do you have to be certified to repair TVs, VCRs, DVD players, toasters, blenders, or dust busters???

All this is going to do is make silly tech schools (like the infomercials as seen on TV) more money and make people invest into a career that already doesn't pay that well .... lets face it folks (I'm not trying to insult people, just tell it how it is) ... PC repair is EASY!!!!

I hate it when educational institutions make extra money just because people HAVE to be TRAINED to do something that is REALL easy! ... that idea is absurd. If you know how to do the job, and if you do the job well, people will come back to you in the future (or refer their friends to you). If you do a crappy joba nd don't know what you are doing, especiually in such a competitive field, then you'll be out of business in no time! Let our economic system decide who is qualified and who isn't!

Taking a deep breath now ....

Just my $0.02 cents ...

OMG! I NEVER take my machine into a (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049848)

How hard is it to replace parts on a modern PC? I regularly add components, and troubleshoot issues on the 5 machines I have running in my house. Nowadays, component repair isn't even done anyway (if a diskdrive is bad, they remove the data if possible, and then install a new drive). I don't know anyone who actually does desoldering and replacement work anymore. Ugh. Having a manditory certification program would just add costs to everything - even new computer prices would go up - since most machines on waranty will have work done through the dealer, who would have to have certified repairmen. We don't certify ditch diggers and construction workers (who potentially have more impact on our lives on a daily basis everytime we cruise down the road). Lets not create extra useless costs for the rest of us, by certifying computer repair people.

To be a COP only requires EIGHT weeks of trainning (2, Insightful)

mgrennan (2067) | more than 11 years ago | (#5049850)

NO and NO.

Licensing is simple a way to raise money for the state and create politics. Some times it makes some sence, medical doctors are licensed, but even there it simply creates a cover up indiscretions of the members. Bad doctors hardly every have their licenses revokes.

I don't know about your state. But in my state (Oklahoma) you have to go to school for two years to cut hair, two years put put plants in some ones yard, six months to train a hourse and eight weeks to be a cop.

Almost all licensing is wrong. Anyone with a screwdriver should be allowed to work on computers.

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