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Motorcycle Mechanic

Job Spotlight - Motorcycle Mechanic

Those who make the choice to work as a Motorcycle Mechanic are heading down the road to a fun and profitable job. Working on motorcycles is not just a job, it is a passion. You want to be the best at it and you want the bikes you work on to be the best on the road. If this sounds like something you would like to do, then you need to keep reading.
 

Quick Facts: Motorcycle Mechanics
2015 Median Pay (Annual) $34,650
2015 Median Pay (Hourly) $16.66
Entry Level Education At Least a high school diploma or GED
Recommended Education Post-secondary education (certificate or degree)
2014-2024 Projected Outlook 4% growth (slightly slower than average)
2014 Number of Jobs 71,700
2014-2024 Estimated Employment Gains 3,200

Resource: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find a Motorcycle Mechanic Program Near You

Use our quick search feature below to find featured schools near you that are currently accepting students.

Motorcycle Mechanic FAQs

The information on this page will help you get an understanding of what kind of a job a Motorcycle Mechanic is and what you have to start working as one. The questions on this page are some of the most-frequently-asked by those interested in working as a cycle mechanic. If you have other questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at any time. Safe riding!

What is a Motorcycle Mechanic?

To put it simply, a Motorcycle Mechanic works on and repairs motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds and other small engine vehicles. They normally have a passion for bikes and the bike lifestyle. Some cycle mechanics take it to the next level by turning their love of riding to working with their hands to make bikes run at top performance.

You will find that a lot of cycle mechanics got their start just by tinkering and modifying their own bikes. Finding out they could make this their profession, they choose to get the education necessary. There are a lot worse ways to make a living than working on bikes and hanging around with others that love to ride.

How to Start Working as a Motorcycle Mechanic

Quick Info: Working as a Motorcycle Mechanic
Types of education
• Trade school or vocational school
• U.S. military
• On-the-job learning
Licensing
• You may need to be licensed if state or local laws require it
• Check with local and state licensing
Certifications
• Certifications are optional
• Can improve income and job opportunities
• Most certifications are from motorcycle manufacturers

I can’t blame you for being interested in becoming a Motorcycle Mechanic. This is one job that will gain a lot of respect among friends and strangers that find out that you spend your days working on cycles. Plus, it is a great job with lots of opportunities to make it a profession that can last you a lifetime.

If you are considering a gig as a Motorcycle Mechanic, you should probably know about things about your new job choice. Just so you know, you may not have to do everything on this list but knowing the information from the start may help you. Let’s face it, this is going to be a job you can be proud of and you will want to know everything you can before you start.

Education

You will have a few options when it comes to learning to work as a Motorcycle Mechanic. Your choices for instruction are basically go to a trade school, on-the-job learning or join the military. The choice is really up to you but we will present our recommendation for what we see as the best path to success. We will give you an honest list of pros and cons of each of these training methods and you will need to make up your mind which path is right for you.

Trade School or Community College

Even though you can start a job as a Motorcycle Mechanic with just a high school degree, you might want to think long-term and get a college degree. You can find a lot of technical schools, community colleges and trade schools that offer programs. These programs also offer you the chance to pursue either a diploma or an associate’s degree, for those who want to add management and business to their skill set.

While you might that a degree is a bit silly, we’re here to break it to you that it isn’t. A growing number of employers are more apt to give a job to someone who has formal Motorcycle Mechanic credentials over someone who doesn’t. Not only that but you may also find out that promotions and a higher pay may be associated with that certificate or associate’s degree.

A typical program at a tech school or community college is made up of both classroom instruction and some lab or shop time. In the classroom you will learn more of the basics of how engines work, safety, preparing damage estimates and other more theoretical parts of the job. While the lab is where you get your hands dirty by actually working on parts and engines.

Some technical schools also offer Motorcycle Mechanic specialist training for certain manufacturers. You can become a certified expert on brand names like Harley Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. Becoming certified in one or more of these areas can be a big bonus when on the job hunt or if you want to open your own shop.

Pros

  • May improve employment opportunities
  • Could increase advancement and pay raise opportunities
  • Some programs offer manufacturer specific training

Cons

  • Cost of tuition
  • One to two years of school
  • You need a job now
On-The-Job Learning

Another option that you can choose is getting a job at a local motorcycle repair shop. This route should only be followed by people who have some know-how and experience working on cycles. This is one of the more common ways some people get started in the industry.

More than likely you will start out as the low person on the totem pole in the shop. This may mean sweeping up, doing small tasks like changing oil or cleaning up the shop or cycle after repairs. Most of these jobs are not the most glamorous in the world but it you can gain some needed experience by watching experienced Motorcycle Mechanics work on cycles. As you gain some trust from the employer and show some initiative, you should be able to move up a bit to tackle harder jobs.

More than likely you will be paired with a more experienced Motorcycle Mechanic and follow them around as their assistant. As noted above this means you will be performing a lot of little tasks at the beginning. Even though you may be thinking you know what to do, you will have to be patient. You will need to show you can follow direction and the shop rules before you can start working unsupervised.

Typically, on-the-job learning can take up to three years before you can work as a Motorcycle Mechanic. During your education it is best if you spend plenty of time reading the manuals and watching videos of some work being done, along with paying attention at work. Some helpful hints to help your training is to be on time to work, do each job in great detail and don’t mess around. You are there to work and learn. Plus, you are getting paid to do it.

After showing some competence in your work, you may approach your boss or the owner of the shop to ask about certifications. Some shops will offer scholarships for their employees to take some of the certification courses. This arrangement is a win-win for the shop and the employees since both will gain great benefits out of the education and expertise the employees will learn during one of these courses.

Pros

  • Get paid while you work
  • Learn from experienced mechanics
  • Gain experience while working in the field

Cons

  • Can take up to 3 years
  • Fewer of these opportunities are out there now
  • Growing number of employers looking for people with some formal education
U.S. Military

If you feel some obligation to serve in the military or would like to give back to your country, you can always enlist in the armed forces. In the military you will be able to learn a trade, about yourself and protect the country all the same time. It really is an honor to enlist in the military and serve your country with pride and distinction.

Even though there isn’t an option of working as a Motorcycle Mechanic in the service, you can still gain valuable experience working on a wide variety of vehicles. From the latest tanks and support vehicles to maritime watercraft will be some vehicles you could work on, depending on the branch of service. However, it should be noted that the instruction you will get to work on these other types of craft can be utilized to work on cycles.

A couple of other aspects that make a hitch in the military enticing is that everything is paid for such as room, food and training. Not to mention, you can easily use your savings from the GI Bill to go to a technical school and get your associate’s degree after your enlistment is over. The only real downside for some people is that most enlistment lasts for four years.

Pros

  • See and experience new things all over the world
  • GI Bill can pay for school, if you want to go
  • Veteran status may give you an advantage when looking for a job

Cons

  • Four years of enlistment
  • Might be placed in dangerous and hostile areas
  • Few opportunities to work on motorcycles
Licensing

Not every state or locality requires a license to work in motorcycle repair. Before you can work as a full-time Motorcycle Mechanic, you will need to check with your local and state department of licensing. If you do not need one, skip this part. If you do need one, get it.

Certification

For the most part certifications are voluntary in the motorcycle repair business. Even though they are voluntary is highly suggested that you should try to earn them to improve your job opportunities and pay. By getting certified, you will be showing your employer and clients that you have the expertise to work on different aspects of a motorcycle.

Our Recommendation
As motorcycle technology becomes more complex it is our recommendation that you go through a formal Motorcycle Mechanic program held at a community college or a technical or trade school. This should give you the background necessary to help secure a job and to keep you up to date with changes in the industry. As we have mentioned before, a growing number of employers are looking for candidates that have an associate’s degree to hire. Plus, you will be able to take some courses in business and management in case you ever want to open your own cycle repair shop.

Where Can I Find Motorcycle Mechanic Schools?

Quick Info: Skills Learned in School
Even though some programs may vary you will most likely cover the topics listed below.

  • Basics of troubleshooting problems
  • Diagnosis of malfunctions
  • Carburetor and fuel injected systems
  • Drive-lines
  • Clutch assemblies
  • Repairing small and multi-cylinder engines
  • Brake systems
  • Frame and suspension
  • Internal combustion engine theory
  • Safety
  • Proper use of tools
  • How to use computer systems
  • Preparing cost estimations and invoices
  • Oil and filter systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Disassemble and assembly of engine and parts

Motorcycle Mechanic programs are held at quite a few trade schools and community colleges around the country. One of the easiest ways to find a program near you is by doing a quick search on the internet. This method of search will narrow down the schools to the ones in your area. Or you can look in other areas if you don’t mind moving.

Another idea to find a quality program is to talk to a local repair shop for any suggestions. They might be able to recommend you to a school that they know of or have attended. You could also call one of the manufacturers or dealers and ask their opinions too. If anything else, this can be a way to network with in the industry and get your name out there.

One thing for sure is to make sure that any program you are interested in is an accredited school. Look for accreditation from national groups such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). This way you will know that the school has met some academic standards and the education should be of a decent quality.

Another thing you may want to consider when looking at schools are ones that can also provide your specialized manufacturer training. Not all training programs offer these specialized courses but it may be a factor in your decision. For example, if you only wanted to work on Harley Davidsons then you would try to find a school that has a certification for Harley Motorcycle Mechanics.

Lastly, you will want to find a Motorcycle Mechanic program where you feel comfortable at going to. This means that when you visit the school or meet one of the instructors, you may feel like this is the school to pick. It is important to find a program or school that fits your personality or goals rather than just picking a school because it is close. While this shouldn’t be a deal breaker in picking a school, it can make the entire experience more worthwhile.

On-The-Job Learning

If you decide you want to go the route of on-the-job learning rather than a formal program, you will have to keep your eye out for job openings. Most likely you will find some ads looking to hire a Motorcycle Mechanic in the classifieds of the local paper or on Craigslist. You could always visit some shops to see if they are looking for some help too. It is best to do this in the spring and summer months when people are getting their bikes out of storage for some riding.

U.S. Military

The U.S. military is always a viable option. You will not only learn a marketable trade but also serve your country at the same time. A quick search on the internet will help you find a recruiter nearby, if you don’t know already where one is. Or you can use the links provided below.

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Army

U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Navy

Coast Guard

National Guard

Are There Any Online Motorcycle Mechanic Programs?

Let’s say you want to go through Motorcycle Mechanic classes but you can’t for whatever reason. Maybe you have a full-time job or you are an at-home parent. No matter the reason, there is a way you can get an education from your comfort of your own home or anywhere else you have a computer and internet access.

Online schools are on the rise throughout the country. The growing popularity of these programs along with the convenience and flexible schedule gives almost anyone a chance to improve their current job. You just have to be motivated to learn and have some dedication to do your assignments. It might be more convenient than a traditional school but that doesn’t mean that you can just do nothing and graduate.

A few things to check when looking at online schools for your Motorcycle Mechanic program.

  • Make sure the program is accredited
  • See if the school offers shop time or can help set up an internship
  • Find out what type of courses they offer
  • Ask what degrees and certificates they offer

How Long Does Motorcycle Tech Schools Take?

The answer to this question depends on what type of Motorcycle Mechanic program you are attending. Some diploma programs can be completed in nine months to a year. While those in the associate’s degree level programs usually take up to two years to complete.

The extra amount of time you spend pursuing an associate’s degree will include a number of very useful classes that will help your future profession. You will most likely take courses in math and communication as well have the option for business and management classes. We highly recommend this path especially if you have the aspirations to start your own shop or dealership.

What is a Good Motorcycle Mechanic Job Description?

As you can probably guess a Motorcycle Mechanic is responsible for fixing and servicing motorcycles. But what actually does that mean? Below you will find a list of some typical duties performed under their job description.

  • Assembles and disassembles engines
  • Make repairs or replaces defective parts
  • Removal of cylinder heads
  • Grinds and replaces defective valves
  • Replaces cylinders, rings and pistons
  • Straightens out bends in the frame
  • Hammers dents out of body
  • Welding of breaks and tears
  • Adjusts and repairs subassemblies such as forks, brakes, drive chain and transmissions
  • Tests sub-assembly unit
  • Inspects sub-assembly unit checking movement and alignment using gauges and eyes
  • Tests engine and measures ignition timing, generator output and other performance indicators
  • Repairs or replaces headlights, horns, gas and oil tanks, starters handlebar controls and muffler
  • Make modifications to spec
  • Fine tunes for best performance
  • Preforms preventative inspections and maintenance
  • Orders needed parts
  • Prepares invoices or cost estimates for customers
  • Talk with customers

What Does the Motorcycle Mechanic Salary Look Like?

Motorcycle Mechanics are among the top jobs that do not require a four-year college degree when it comes to salary. The 2014-15 report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the annual median wage of Motorcycle Mechanics at $34,650 or $16.66 an hour. This does not really count overtime hours or work on the side.

motorcycle mechanic salary

This number from the BLS is not a guarantee of your wages. This is the median income of all those working in motorcycle repair, both full and part time. Your real wages can be slightly different depending on certain factors. These factors include:

  • Experience
  • Certifications
  • Education
  • Location
  • Company

On a side note, since motorcycle riding is basically done in warmer months, you may have winters off. A smart Motorcycle Mechanic will make some extra money during the winter months by working on snowmobiles, snow blowers, tractors and other small engine vehicles and equipment. This type of side business is definitely recommended for those who own their shop or are self-employed.

What is the Future for Motorcycle Technician Jobs?

The latest projections released by the U.S. government has the job of a Motorcycle Mechanic growing at a slightly slower pace than the average of all occupations combined. This job should grow by 3,200 jobs or a growth of 4% through the year 2024. This number may change depending on the economy and increased number of cycle riders.

Motorcycle Mechanic Projected Job Growth

Are There Motorcycle Mechanic Certifications?

Unlike a lot of other careers that within the same occupational category of mechanics, those working classified as a Motorcycle Mechanic do not have a national organization that gives out certifications. However, there are some certifications that you can get that are highly prized and can help you find a great job. These certifications are given out by the manufacturers after a short class and exam. These are voluntary but can produce more at your own bottom line by earning one.

A certification from a manufacturer means that you have the expertise to work on that specific company’s cycle. Most of the certifications are valid for a few years but require a certain amount of continuing education courses so that you are up to date with all the changes. To find out more about these manufacturing certifications, you can check out their websites.

Harley Davidson

Yamaha

Suzuki

Honda

Kawasaki

BMW

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