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What it Takes to Become a Motorcycle Mechanic

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A motorcycle mechanic is an expert in small engines, but specializes in the intricate mechanics of a motorcycle engine. With the popularity of motorcycles today, there are well-paid jobs for enthusiastic and talented mechanics. Most experienced and skillful mechanics earn up to $40,000 a year, but those who work for large repair shops can usually earn more. Beginning mechanics get about $20,000 a year after two years of training.

Many people who go into this rewarding career are passionate about motorcycles. They're the ones who excel in high school small engine repair, spend hours working on cars, and love to be around motorcycles.

Training

Most motorcycle mechanics do a one- to two-year training in small engine mechanics at a vocational school or a community college. Formal classroom lessons complement practical hands-on work in an actual shop. Students study suspension and brake systems, two-stroke and four-stroke engines, electrical and fuel systems, and service. Training usually includes an apprenticeship with an experienced motorcycle repair shop. Here, students initially work with experienced mechanics, doing minor repairs and simple service work, before going on to more complicated repair work. Many students also take courses in car repair and business math. Some students enhance their training with online courses as well.

After passing a written certification test, most go to work for a repair shop or motorcycle dealership in an entry-level position, although some may choose to open their own business. Many graduates also work on motor scooters, dirt bikes, mopeds, and all-terrain vehicles. They may decide to specialize in one particular type of motorcycle, such as Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Honda, or BMW. Many shop owners choose to send employees to classes or workshops where they train to work on specific models. Industry certification can command a higher paycheck.

Additionally, some may work at a motorcycle plant, where they assemble the engines or in sales as a motorcycle parts representative.

Some skilled repair mechanics never take any formal training, but have a superior aptitude for small engine work and learn everything they know by on-the-job-training. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the best jobs go to the mechanics graduate from formal training. It gives mechanics a competitive edge that can pay off in the end.

The Job

Work as a motorcycle mechanic can be somewhat seasonal, since motorcycle use goes down during the colder months. But most mechanics repair other small engines to make up the slack. The winter is also a time when motorcycle owners use mechanics to do major, time-consuming work, such as re-builds. By expanding services, a good mechanic can usually keep income flowing year round.

A mechanic needs specialized skills and attributes to be successful. In the modern motorcycle repair shop, he will need to be comfortable working with computerized diagnostic equipment and learning new technologies. Shops are noisy and dirty, and there is some exposure to strong chemicals, although most modern repair shops have proper ventilation. He needs to be flexible with work hours, since many customers will drop off and pick up their bikes at night and on weekends. A mechanic who is the shop owner needs good customer service skills, competence in supervising employees, and the ability to promote and market the business. A four-year business degree is a helpful addition to motorcycle mechanic training for people who want to own a shop.

Schools Offering Motorcycle Courses:

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