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  1. #1
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    Highest regarded bike mechanic school in north america?

    Hi, this maybe slightly off topic for this forum, just not sure other then passion.

    I am 31, i spent 12 years training as a goldsmith and well that industry has kinda gone in reverse. Due to economics and price of gold more people are selling then buying. Lucky for me i have been doing sales and customer service since i was in high school so i manage to land on my feet in a managers position. But its just not doing it for me, im too used to doing things with my hands all day.

    So with a new found passion i have been contemplating getting my bike mechanics certification. So after looking around online there arnt to many "big" school, but i have requested some further information and we will see where that goes. But as always i thought i would see what i could do to look forward so i ask you, which is the best school?. Whos names carries the most weight?.

    Currently my number one choice is the united bicycle institute, they seem to cover everything.

    Thanks for reading, hope this isnt to far off for this forum.
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  2. #2
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    Don't become a bike mechanic thinking you'll make a living at it. The money is pretty bad.

  3. #3
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    Im not doing it to make big $$ im doing it to be happy doing something again. The wages seem to start around 13hr and top out around 15-17hr/36k a year type area.

    Not great and honestly step down from where i am now, but im also working 60 hours a week right on salery, and when i work out my hourly i would be better off flipping burgers.

    Im just looking for a secondary skill set that my existing will transfer over too fairly easily, idealy i will go back to goldsmithing at some point.

    i dunno, maybe the numbers i have researched are not on target. I just browse the jobs available and base it off what i see people offering.
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  4. #4
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    I was in a very lucrative area for being a bike mechanic and even then I wasn't making that kind of money. You need to love the work because you're not likely to make much money as a wrench. That being said, most of the time it's easy work to love. You'll also get a new perspective on the insane crap that people do to bicycles on a regular basis, so that's pretty cool.

    I'm not sure how applicable "certification" is in the real world. I've only ever met one or two people working at bike shops who have been through an official program. What I would do to start is go to whatever shop you're looking to work for and talk with the owner. Ask him/her about getting a job and if that sort of official experience is recommended or looked favorably upon. Ask around town and see if you get any other opinions. Taking the class won't be a bad thing but it might not be required if you're just looking to get a job at a shop.
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  5. #5
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    I think what it is is when a shop is looking for certified there is shop managment skills that come along with that ticket. But yeah, I should go in and bug my LBS a bit.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobinGB View Post
    I think what it is is when a shop is looking for certified there is shop managment skills that come along with that ticket. But yeah, I should go in and bug my LBS a bit.
    If someone is looking to hire a manager for a bike shop they're much more likely to hire someone with bike shop experience rather than someone with no experience and a "certification". As someone with only a bike school cert, you're not likely to put those shop management skills that you learned at UBI to use until you get some experience working at a shop.

    Maybe my experience is unusual but I don't think that shops are actively looking for someone with certification. It will probably help you find a job, but I don't think it is required.
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  7. #7
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    Im lucky, i have the time and money to get the certs. So i think it will help, showing a level of aptitude and commitment.

    Same way i got my goldsmithing apprenticeship, i bought into the tool and started tinkering at home and did some course. then moved into a professional level, but either way i have 14years of high level sales experience and 5 years experience managing workshops and retail locations. Im just trying to figure out the best school to go to, but it dosnt seem to really matter. I will just keep watching the postings, i have seen a few site UBI certs. I will wait another 6 months and see if any others come up.


    Thanks guys.
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  8. #8
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    I can appreciate your gusto, however...My experience lines up with Zebrahum; generally, 'certified' mechanics with no shop experience are looked down upon. It is very much a field that still thrives on experience vs. education. There is not a ton of information that is hidden/uncommon in the bike field, and learning to work on bikes is not hard (volunteer at a co-op/used bike shop!). There are more esoteric procedures, but anyone mechanically inclined can sit down and read the service manual before starting.

    The cert can't hurt you, but going up to a shop and asking to intern (for lack of a better word) would likely serve you better.

  9. #9
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    i guess the cheating way would be to get the cert then go in like you know nothing... lol

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  10. #10
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    Barnetts and UBI are the two major ones in North America. Both are good places to learn a foundation of knowledge. I've never hired a grad of either one of those programs. I've worked along side a few and some where good and others were not so grand. The requirements to get through either are not stringent enough to guarantee quality grads. There are also a hand full of clinics like Shimano S-tec that's online based and the Park Tool tech summit. Those two are a way to stay current as things are changing at a pretty rapid rate.

    You should find another vocation though. Being a bike mechanic is a dead end job unless you get really lucky. Even owning your own bike shop isn't as grand as you might think.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobinGB View Post
    Im not doing it to make big $$ im doing it to be happy doing something again. The wages seem to start around 13hr and top out around 15-17hr/36k a year type area.

    Not great and honestly step down from where i am now, but im also working 60 hours a week right on salery, and when i work out my hourly i would be better off flipping burgers.
    If you are in a job that is paying $36k+ a year now stick with it and be happy in the fact that you can afford a hobby.

    I would guess most bike mechanics are making around $25k a year.
    See if you could can save $10k a year for a couple years then decide if you really want to take that kind of pay cut. That is almost $1k a month, can you set that aside?

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    Just remember: bike shop mechanic is an amazing job if you can pull it off. You're going to learn to love and hate bikes simultaneously, you'll learn how to avoid "those guys" who come in just to shoot the **** while you have 6 people waiting, you'll get so good at fixing shifting and braking that you'll start fixing bikes that pass you on the trail because they made more noise than you would like. Hopefully you won't have to resort to eating Ramen all the time, which is why I had to leave the industry. I'm plotting constantly on how to return, it's a good industry in general.
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    I already have a "day job," and I got certified with the United Bicycle Institute because I wanted to learn, and didn't intend to get a job in a bike shop. It was a very worthwhile experience and I learned a lot. I've since formed a mentorship-style relationship with two local professional race mechanics, and I'm learning a lot that way, as well. I assisted one of them at two World Cups this past summer, which was a great experience. I think there are other ways to work as a mechanic beyond just bike shops, but as others have said, none of the options seem very lucrative. I do it because I enjoy it and can bring in a little extra cash, and that works great for me.

    As for the schools, I've heard that Barnett's might be a bit more rigorous than UBI, but I can't say from experience. So much of it is indeed learning by doing, as others here have said, but the classroom setting does give you a good background to start from.

    Good luck!

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    Thats awesome, and i agree.


    As i said i am a trained goldsmith, and i may start my shop up again. That is another part time evening job but even if i had a low but steady income it would take alot of pressure off.


    i have done all my planning for an ashland trip, but im still waiting to pull the trigger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobinGB View Post
    Thats awesome, and i agree.


    As i said i am a trained goldsmith, and i may start my shop up again. That is another part time evening job but even if i had a low but steady income it would take alot of pressure off.


    i have done all my planning for an ashland trip, but im still waiting to pull the trigger.
    Just do it. You'll regret it if you don't and it won't hurt anything but your wallet. If you can afford the trip, take it and be happy. Time spent learning about bikes is rarely time wasted.
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  16. #16
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    Yeah man, I'd do it. I remember a few negative nancies-but the class is great. have fun.

  17. #17
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    I'll show my bias - I went to Barnetts in Colorado Springs - They also teach the "business" aspects of the trade. UBI can teach you how to weld a fram from scratch but i do not think Barnetts will.

    I got alot out of my time at Barnetts. Others in my class who had also attended UBI thought alot of the Barnetts program -

  18. #18
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    Instead of offering advice to NOT do it, I will give you my experience...... I am retired, and work on my own stuff. Wanted to learn things the "right" way and open up possible part-time employment in a shop to kill time and advance my skills. Went to UBI's Professional Repair and Shop Operation course. I highly recommend it. You get out of it what you put into it. It is highly immersive and they cram a huge amount of info/skills into two weeks. If you complete the coursework satisfactorily, you get a "Certificate of Completion" If you stick around and take the test (and pass) you get a "Certified Bicycle Technician" certificate. I passed.
    I graduated just recently.....Nov 2nd. first week home I had several job offers. I took a part time gig at a major chain retailer, building bikes for a couple of hours in the AM, then working with head tech on repair tickets for the rest of the day. Not sure what the outcome would have been if I went to the school with no knowledge...... I build/repair my own stufff and had attended Park Tool School previously. I can definitely say you will forget a huge amount of stuff if you dont start working immediately. I say go for it man...... I am currently living my own dream of being immersed in bikes as a hobby, and now working in a shop.
    Word of warning....... When you get out and start interviewing, most shops are totally put off by Tech School Grads. You will probably be put through a "test" before being hired, with every tech in the shop watching. Mine was to build one Mountain Bike and One road bike from boxes, then true and dish two wheels. I did something similiar at every place that wanted to hire me, so be ready to be nervous. Just man up.....it's only pot smoking bike-weirdos testing you.
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  19. #19
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    A bike school cert can't hurt, but it may not help. The first question is if there are jobs available in your area. If every shop is already set for mechanics it doesn't matter whether you're educated or not. No jobs = no jobs. Certification will put you ahead of non-certified mechs with no experience, but probably not ahead of mechs with real experience. There's a lot of stuff they don't teach you in school (especially regarding how to fix Wal-Mart bikes), which is why experience is preferred.

    Unfortunately, $13-$17/hr sounds high. Maybe for someone with shop experience or at the top of their game but I think you'd be hard-pressed to walk into a shop and command that kind of coin. Not trying to douse your spirit, but the reality of it can suck.

    I would definitely do research with local shops before making a financial commitment to any of the classes.
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  20. #20
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    I was a wrench for 4 years, there were several of us and I don't think anyone had a cert. It certainly won't hurt you but many smaller shops wont turn away someone that is competent. I was making $8/hour full time in the mid to late '90s while I was in grad school...fun job..wish I could afford it now!
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Just remember: bike shop mechanic is an amazing job if you can pull it off. You're going to learn to love and hate bikes simultaneously, you'll learn how to avoid "those guys" who come in just to shoot the **** while you have 6 people waiting, you'll get so good at fixing shifting and braking that you'll start fixing bikes that pass you on the trail because they made more noise than you would like. Hopefully you won't have to resort to eating Ramen all the time, which is why I had to leave the industry. I'm plotting constantly on how to return, it's a good industry in general.
    You aren't lying...I fix stuff all the time for folks because it just bugs the crap,out of me and it usually only takes a minute.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    Instead of offering advice to NOT do it, I will give you my experience...... I am retired, and work on my own stuff. Wanted to learn things the "right" way and open up possible part-time employment in a shop to kill time and advance my skills. Went to UBI's Professional Repair and Shop Operation course. I highly recommend it. You get out of it what you put into it. It is highly immersive and they cram a huge amount of info/skills into two weeks. If you complete the coursework satisfactorily, you get a "Certificate of Completion" If you stick around and take the test (and pass) you get a "Certified Bicycle Technician" certificate. I passed.
    I graduated just recently.....Nov 2nd. first week home I had several job offers. I took a part time gig at a major chain retailer, building bikes for a couple of hours in the AM, then working with head tech on repair tickets for the rest of the day. Not sure what the outcome would have been if I went to the school with no knowledge...... I build/repair my own stufff and had attended Park Tool School previously. I can definitely say you will forget a huge amount of stuff if you dont start working immediately. I say go for it man...... I am currently living my own dream of being immersed in bikes as a hobby, and now working in a shop.
    Word of warning....... When you get out and start interviewing, most shops are totally put off by Tech School Grads. You will probably be put through a "test" before being hired, with every tech in the shop watching. Mine was to build one Mountain Bike and One road bike from boxes, then true and dish two wheels. I did something similiar at every place that wanted to hire me, so be ready to be nervous. Just man up.....it's only pot smoking bike-weirdos testing you.
    PM me if you want more info on UBI.
    That is what we did..."build this bike" then we all just sat back and watched. You will build a lot of bikes....a lot. I did that at my second shop..they were impressed
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  23. #23
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    From my experience it seems like more shops recognize and respect a BBI cert then UBI. Not that UBI is bad in anyway but they seem to teach in two different ways. BBI is very procedural, UBI (from what I can tell from only having looked at some of their literature) is less so. BBI's method results in a sort of built in liability protection, that a lot of shops really want. I have actually been offered two jobs based mainly on my BBI education.

    I will also say that even a little prior experience will go a long way in helping you absorb and process the information. I have interviewed a bunch of guys fresh out of BBI that have no experience and it showed. I think in every case we went with the guy with more experience and just taught them BBI methods and procedures.

    Personally I worked in shops for over ten years before I went to BBI and I feel like it took my game to a whole new level. I have actually spent some time in shops I worked in prior to going and am embarrassed at the way I used to do things. It's actually pretty nuts what goes on in most bikes shops, and that people pay for it. Oh, the stories I could tell.

    And while it is true that you will top out around 25k, in most cases, it is a awesome way to make a living. I'd probably keep wrenching if I won the lotto.

    I wouldn't tell you not to go to either, but you may try to get a part time gig at a local shop first and see how that plays out.

  24. #24
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    My 2 cents.

    Having served about 8 years as a shop mechanic, I'll say that if you get hired at $13-15 then that must be a decent sized shop that is doing well. But as has already been said, it is a dead-end job. I enjoy most of what I do, and I place a lot of value on my skill set that I've developed, however there is zero growth potential. You're either at the mechanic level, might move up to shop manager, or even owner. That's it. I'm 31 and have almost no idea where I'm going to go from here, because I can't see myself making this money 10 years from now. Goi to a bicycle mechanics school will get you on the fast track to having a solid base of mechanical knowledge, but I would only suggest it if you are committed to making this a long term thing, otherwise the cost is hard to justify.

    If you do decide to join this industry, set your expectations low. Very low.(maybe I'm just bitter about my situation.)

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
    My 2 cents.

    Having served about 8 years as a shop mechanic, I'll say that if you get hired at $13-15 then that must be a decent sized shop that is doing well. But as has already been said, it is a dead-end job. I enjoy most of what I do, and I place a lot of value on my skill set that I've developed, however there is zero growth potential. You're either at the mechanic level, might move up to shop manager, or even owner. That's it. I'm 31 and have almost no idea where I'm going to go from here, because I can't see myself making this money 10 years from now. Goi to a bicycle mechanics school will get you on the fast track to having a solid base of mechanical knowledge, but I would only suggest it if you are committed to making this a long term thing, otherwise the cost is hard to justify.

    If you do decide to join this industry, set your expectations low. Very low.(maybe I'm just bitter about my situation.)
    lol, I feel the same way about goldsmithing. Started in the industry and burnt out (financially) running my own shop after 10 years int he industry. I think everything is like that, you gotta keep trying to think of ways to make it a better paying job. Where i am now i went from lowest paid newest sales guy to manager in 8 months.

    at 31 i have a few great skill sets but feel completely lost, im torn between the career job that will pay well just because... its what everyone seems to do. Or getting the kinda cool guy job with my artsy job part time and being happy. Im not a very material person, i am a very simple creature really.

    I really appreciate everyones opinions and views on the idea, i will post if i go further.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobinGB View Post
    lol, I feel the same way about goldsmithing. Started in the industry and burnt out (financially) running my own shop after 10 years int he industry. I think everything is like that, you gotta keep trying to think of ways to make it a better paying job. Where i am now i went from lowest paid newest sales guy to manager in 8 months.

    at 31 i have a few great skill sets but feel completely lost, im torn between the career job that will pay well just because... its what everyone seems to do. Or getting the kinda cool guy job with my artsy job part time and being happy. Im not a very material person, i am a very simple creature really.

    I really appreciate everyones opinions and views on the idea, i will post if i go further.

    Have a job that makes money Then do something on the side that you enjoy.

    Maybe use your hand/metal work skills and become a frame builder?
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  27. #27
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    I have taken the framebuilding course at UBI and the Pro Mechanic course at Barnett's. So not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. But I'd say that the Barnett's courses are VERY rigorous and methodical. I stayed at the bike hostel in Ashland with folks taking the mechanic courses at UBI and listening to them talk about it I'd guess that it wasn't as rigorous, but I don't really know for sure.

    I can recommend Barnett's for wrenching courses. Plus, you get their DX manual which is pretty darn comprehensive. If you want to go and you can afford it, you should do it, even if you never work in a bike shop. In my case, I do feel like it helped me land a job at a bike shop. I got a job with the local shop of my choice, and over the course of several months I had several other local shops inquire if I was still interested. This despite having no prior experience at bike shops.

    No, you won't make a good living working at a bike shop. But it might be fun, if only for a while. And depending on where you work, you'll get wholesale prices on bike parts....a helluva benefit once you realize how much you've been paying retail. Although a bike part habit can easily eat up your paycheck - be careful! Or who knows? It could lead to a "real" job with a bike manufacturer. That's what happened in my case: I worked 6 months at the shop, then landed a job with a locally-based manufacturer. Granted, it was in the warehouse, with only slightly better pay and still no benefits, but don't let people tell you that being a bike mechanic is a dead-end job. It can be a stepping stone, you just have to think big and keep your eyes open for opportunities.

    As for me, I left the manufacturer gig to teach myself SolidWorks in hopes of getting (back) into product design. No regrets about my time in the bike biz, and I may end up back in it someday. In summary, follow your folly!

  28. #28
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    So, here we are three years later- How goes your pursuit into the bike industry?

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    Interesting thread, as I'm now in sort of the same predicament. I have been working security overseas, and due to injury, am no longer able to continue. I was looking at taking everything Barnett's had to offer. No matter what I do at this point, it'll be some sort of career change with a huge pay cut. In my eyes, it's time to try and do something I enjoy, rather than risking getting blown up for money.

    With that said, this career change is still way more scary to me than going back overseas. I have a lot of varied experience, which I know will serve me well later on, and realize that I'd probably end up starting as an assembler somewhere, but I don't necessarily see it as a dead end or I wouldn't be considering it. I have NO experience in a bike shop, but plenty in retail, and I see an endless list of mechanic openings, or positions with manufacturers that at least require mechanical knowledge and customer service experience.

    Still considering other avenues, but I keep coming back to this one.

    Start over in a completely new field that I'd probably enjoy more, or dive back into security (domestic, corporate-type stuff), protecting an ungrateful client who thinks you are less intelligent than their dog in a purse for a little more money? That is the question.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ltdan12a View Post
    So, here we are three years later- How goes your pursuit into the bike industry?
    Would love to know too. Perhaps the OP took heed?

    I'll revive an old thread with my experience, in a nutshell as best I can. This has been my personal experience, don't confuse that with absolutes please, however I stand that my experiences are hardly unique in this industry.

    For those of you with jobs that pay more than say 40K a year, please ask yourself if you can survive on much less first. For me, getting into this game was an easy choice as I was already broke But - I didn't know what broke really meant until my first 6 months as a bicycle mechanic.

    Understand first that the actual technical part of the job is what we are all pining for. Working on bikes can be satisfying and fun, it's the easy part. Let's assume that you're looking for a job at a small single store business. Not only are you going to deal with all of the asinine requests from the general public (not all who enter or call your store are customers!) but you'll likely be dealing with some sort of a quirky personality that is the small business owner(s). In this case remind yourself that someone has to be a little touched to want to own a bicycle retail business in the first place. Check their employer history and make sure your checks will clear.

    The training? Laughable. The pay, at least the starting pay, is a starvation wage. You'll quickly learn that your day is spent answering the phones, tending to the sales floor and asking the owners questions that are often brushed off. Don't think you'll be working on bikes all day, at least in most settings. Now try learning a highly technical trade in that setting.

    Sure, large stores are different and will offer a buffer between sales and service, maybe even proper training if you're lucky. Understand that in those scenarios the sales people will work much less than you and are often paid higher - face it, selling 5K bikes is still more profitable than fixing them. For many large stores the service department exists as a way of communicating to their customers, "yes we stand behind what we sell" there are many shops that would love to simply sell bikes and accessories and kill the service dept. to that end they treat the service staff as a secondary thought. Either way, you'll be tasked with much more than learning the trade, be prepared to be blown away by seeing how little a person can do in one day - look at the sales floor. They can literally do zilch all day long, but make one large sale and are a more profitable employee than even the most talented and efficient mechanic. From a business perspective it makes sense to pay them more for doing less, I don't fault them for this, it's just the way it is. If you've ever worked hard in a kitchen as a cook or chef, the dynamic is very similar.

    UBI, Barnett, and Park - none of that matters, at all, even a little to an employer, and that is sad. It's an unfortunate truth that hiring managers will even go so far as to filter out potential employees who put too much emphasis on these certifications. This is the biggest problem with the industry, there is not a certification for mechanics at the shop level that commands respect. Bill Woodull's clinic is the best thing a mechanic can invest in for a real world return on investment - yet, even then it's just posturing as the course is only designed for race mechanics and translating basic wrenching skills to race scenarios, not actual retail environments. Mostly it's simply the best way for an experienced mechanic to have something that resembles certification that matters. If you're interested in being a race mechanic, it's an obvious and necessary goal to attend these but it really doesn't help the brick and mortar technicians. I still fantasize about a certification that would truly qualify a technician, but so many things would have to change for that to become reality, the average wage for mechanics being the most obvious. For many reasons professionalism, or lack there of I should say, is what holds most mechanics back from their true potential. This is the fault of the individuals and the industry as a whole. Those courses are a good starting point, and part of me wishes I started there, but if you have 2 years of retail experience this is more important to most employers.

    I sound jaded and I am to a certain extent. I'm also still very enthusiastic about bikes and working in the industry at a local level. I have worked for small, medium, and large shops. I learned the most from my most awful and embarrassing mistakes and found mentors in the most unusual places. The people that should have been guiding me failed miserably as teachers but I was lucky enough to find a few folks that went out of their way to help me, to teach me the proper way of doing even the most simplest of tasks. There is, or at least was an attitude in the back of shops that said if you see a mechanic reading directions, run. That's the biggest load I wish I never believed myself. The mechanic willing to read the directions, does it correctly the first time. I wish the opposite wasn't taught to me from the beginning. Even something as mundane as installing a chain has a right and wrong way.

    For those considering the trade, or for those that have been doing it for less than 2 years my advice is to position yourself in a market with multiple employment options. I was lucky to start in a town with many bike shops and even a little bit of manufacturing. This has given me leverage many times even without a college education. Leverage what you are worth from the very start, and don't assume better pay down the road at the same position. Demand that your wage fit in line with reality, but also what you think you are worth. For my last job I asked for a lot. I showed up to the interview not expecting to take the job, I didn't want a lateral move so I asked for considerably more than what I was making, with full benefits. They gave me everything I asked for and I took the job because they made it an easy choice. They told me later that they picked me because of my reputation as not only a solid mechanic (I'm not the best) but because of my professionalism throughout the years as a customer and my phone skills. I am reminded daily that simple acts like timely communication is the exception, not the normal in the bicycle industry, my customers tell me this.

    Most mechanics don't think about their next step, or at least they don't act like it. Even if you are at a job you're not loving remember how small the bike industry is. Keep your negative criticisms away from social media and your customers. Not all opinions need to be shared. There is no room for ego in a trade that pays less than most fast food managers make, remember that. Someone told me once that the bike mechanic has to maintain a knowledge base that rivals that of a pediatrician, while that's an impressive thought (who came up with this, I have no idea) just remember that, "it's just bikes" - some of your customers will try and force you to forget this, don't let them. Don't let them, that is, unless they are willing to pay for you. Be professional, do everything in your power to be better than the competition, but don't forget that doctors and lawyers can afford to own multiple bikes (and they should. And you should sell them as many bikes as possible).

    Lastly, take the time to make a professional resume and cover letter (when appropriate). Smile at your interview and don't posture. Only true masters don't feel the need to inflate their own talents. Tell them your value to their business.

    It is possible to make an honest living doing this, but it's not easy. As others have mentioned, this is absolutely a labor of love. I still enjoy going to work every day and that has tremendous value. I pay all of our family's bills but not without a very strict budget. Be reasonable with your expectations and don't let your job get in the way of what got you here in the first place, the love of the bike.

    -cheers
    Last edited by plume; 02-17-2016 at 12:39 PM.
    My one says BRAP!

  31. #31
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    I put myself through college working in the bike industry! It was a ton of fun. It was enough money to get by, and enough for college. I made what I imagine was an average full time mechanic paycheck.

    Except I ran my own business, selling wheels. Id work 2-8 hours a week, sunday only. That was enough to cover my basic living expenses.

    Dont work as a bike mechanic, its just bad. If you want to be in the industry, get into wheelbuilding part time. Get good with suspension and do tunes and rebuilds. Its actually stimulating and fun. Replacing inner tubes and chains on walmart bikes sounds like it would suck.

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    Here's another slant that nobody mentioned. In Europe most Bike shops also work on Motorized scooters(Mopeds) whatever you want to call them. With Electric Bikes coming on now there's a big demand for persons with knowledge on working on Electrical and motorized bikes. Also If you are knowledgeable on suspension systems will help greatly.
    You may also want to look at REI stores. Their Shop managers are sent to Barnett Bike School, and then they pass that training down through the shop. Some REI stores carry high end, and some entry. But all their bikes are built following a standard guide and every bolt is torqued to spec. So although they may not have the best bikes in the market, they are some of the best built. Plus it's a big company with a lot of opportunity for a career.
    And they have the best Toy Benefit program( you can almost order anything for whoelsale, not just what your store carries, but what REI carries from the manufacture (Pro Deals). Sometimes I wish I stayed on part time just for that benefit.

    Last, Is there a non-profit shop in town? I volunteer at one and work on from Sturmey Archer internal geared hubs to high end, old Peugeot's, English Raleighs with Whitworth to modern. You can learn a lot working on old crap. You'll come across old technology that most people haven't seen like Browning front changing chain rings. Plus working on donated bikes, that we build up to sell, I can afford to screw up and break things. Great way to learn what works getting stuck seat posts out of frames, cutting a bottom bracket out of a concentric shell, etc...

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    If you have that much time working as a goldsmith maybe look into starting a one man dental lab. Depending on where you live if there are some old school dentists that still push gold with their patients you may do well. Most labs now are strictly cad/cam zirconia. If you are good with your hands and have a good eye you could carve out a nice little market for your skills. And if you have a really good eye you could do the porcelain as well.

  34. #34
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    I get loving to work with your hands. I am the same type.

    When I took a job as a bike mechanic, I made 13 dollars an hour. This was in between getting laid off and finding a new one. 13, was a high rate for the industry for a mech without "professional experience". They gave it to me coz I was doing suspension and brakes, not to mention I probably did not look like I'd take 10

    It was fun. I had no illusions that I could do it as career. I can make 3-4 times that doing sales operations with tech co.s, and as manager, well over 6 figures.

    Depending on your life goals, you'll surely be able to make a decision that's good for you. For myself, the work is not my life, I work for my life. I fix bikes in a home workshop in the afternoon and weekends not for the money, but because I like the people and working with my hands.

    I feel that I made a good compromise. I have a career, and I am a bike mechanic too. I get stupid looks at the office when I talk about my side gig. Its like "really?".

    I've been fixing bikes from my home for almost 8 years now. I have regular clientele. On the weak months, I will buy beaters to fix and sell to students when school starts. Over all, I can make the money I made as bike mechanic working from my I little shop of horror 1-2 hours a day, 1 whole 8 hour Saturday, WHILE, working a full time job with a long term career plus full tech company benefits.

    *I mentioned benefits coz it makes a big difference. Beyond salaries, when my kids can get new eyeglasses anytime they want, or see a doctor, get dental work, and myself, get surgery for a big mtb crash, with little to no cost, that is a major factor for me.

    Good luck on your career choice!

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