Motorcycle Mechanic

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Motorcycle Mechanic

Education and Training On-the-job training

Salary Median—$13.70 per hour

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Motorcycle mechanics service and repair many of the four million motorcycles on the roads. They perform routine tasks, such as adjusting and replacing spark plugs, ignition points, and brakes, as well as major repairs, such as overhauling engines.

Most mechanics work for motorcycle shops or dealers. Some are government employees who service motorcycles used by police. Others work in shops that customize motorcycles, adding instruments, changing engine parts, and altering the design.

Motorcycle mechanics use ordinary hand tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers, which they usually buy themselves. A full set of tools can cost as much as $500—beginners usually buy tools as their training progresses. Shops supply power tools, testing equipment, and hoists to lift heavy motorcycles.

Education and Training Requirements

Employers often look for applicants who have their own motorcycles and have already learned to make basic repairs. Sometimes they hire people with no experience if they are mechanically inclined and show interest in learning the work. While high school education is not required, employers prefer to hire applicants with high school diplomas or the equivalent. Courses in small engine repair, automobile mechanics, science, and mathematics can be helpful. High schools, vocational schools, and community colleges sometimes offer courses in motorcycle repair.

Most mechanics learn the trade on the job. Trainees first learn to assemble new motorcycles and perform routine maintenance. With experience they undertake major overhauls of electrical systems and engines. It usually takes two to three years for trainees to become experienced mechanics. Employers sometimes send mechanics to training courses offered by motorcycle manufacturers.

Getting the Job

Job seekers should contact motorcycle dealers or manufacturers directly to inquire about trainee positions. State employment services, ads in motorcycle magazines, and Internet job sites may provide employment leads.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement opportunities are limited. Mechanics with management ability may become service managers or general managers for motorcycle dealerships. Those with enough money open their own motorcycle shops. Some use their mechanical skills to fix other vehicles with internal combustion engines, such as snowmobiles and automobiles.

Employment of motorcycle mechanics is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. Motorcycling is becoming increasingly popular, especially with adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four and those over forty, so demand for mechanics should increase. Openings regularly occur when experienced workers retire or leave the field.

Working Conditions

About nineteen thousand motorcycle mechanics are employed in the United States. Usually, they work for dealerships or for shops that fix all kinds of small engines. Most dealers employ fewer than five mechanics.

Shops are usually well lighted and well ventilated. Motorcycle work is cleaner than auto repair work, because mechanics do not have to crawl under motorcycles to work on them. Shops are often noisy, however. Although the work is not dangerous, mechanics do get minor cuts and bruises.

Motorcycling increases in warm weather, so mechanics may work more than forty hours per week during the summer months. Weekend hours may be necessary. Part-time and temporary mechanics are often hired to handle the workload.

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary, depending on skill and location. In 2004 the median wage for all motorcycle mechanics was $13.70 per hour. The most experienced mechanics earned more than $21.95 per hour. Some mechanics are paid a base salary plus an incentive. Under that system, earnings depend on how much work mechanics are given and how quickly they complete it. Some mechanics' wages are set by union contract.

Where to Go for More Information

American Motorcyclist Association
13515 Yarmouth Dr.
Pickerington, OH 43147
(800) 262-5646

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
9000 Machinists Pl.
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-2687
(301) 967-4500

Benefits may include holiday and vacation pay, life and health insurance, paid sick leave, and retirement plans. Mechanics who work for dealers are often given discounts on the purchase of motorcycles, parts, and accessories. Motorcycle mechanics who work in small shops usually receive fewer benefits.