Becoming a Motorcycle Mechanic: Salary Info & Job Description

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Get the truth about a motorcycle mechanic's salary, training requirements and career prospects. Read the job duties and see the pros and cons of becoming a motorcycle mechanic.
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PROS and CONS of a Motorcycle Mechanic Career

Beginning a career as a motorcycle mechanic might sound exciting if you like the idea of working with your hands. Check out the following list of pros and cons to decide if this career is right for you.

PROS of Being a Motorcycle Mechanic
Training can be received on the job*
Offers opportunities for self-employment*
Knowledge of small engine mechanics can be used in related career fields (outdoor power equipment and marine equipment repair)*

CONS of Being a Motorcycle Mechanic
Low wages (median annual wage of around $34,000)*
Slower-than-average job growth (expected 6% growth between 2012 and 2022)*
Work can be seasonal**
Risk of exposure to harmful chemicals**
Few postsecondary training programs available*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **iseek.org.

Career Information

Job Descriptions and Duties

Sometimes referred to as small engine mechanics, motorcycle mechanics repair and maintain motorcycles and other vehicles, such as mopeds and motor scooters. Some motorcycle mechanics work for dealers that service a particular make, such as Harley-Davidson or Honda, while others work for repair shops servicing all makes and models.

If you decide to pursue a career as a motorcycle mechanic, you might use a combination of hand tools, power tools and flexible power presses to tear down engines, remove cylinder heads and replace defective pistons. You could also be responsible for more routine tasks, such as replacing spark plugs, changing oil or performing simple tune-ups. Motorcycle mechanics also repair dented frames.

According to iseek.org, most customers service their bikes in the spring and summer. During this time, you might work overtime hours on weekends and evenings. Conversely, you might work a part-time schedule during the winter months when there aren't as many riders out on the road.

Job Prospects and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for motorcycle mechanics were expected to increase 6% between 2012 and 2022. This job growth was expected to result from the increasing number of registered motorcycles. States with warmer climates, such as California, Florida and Texas, had the highest employment levels in this field. Motorcycle mechanics earned a median annual wage of just over $34,000 as of May 2014.

Career Skills and Requirements

Education Requirements

A high school diploma is usually the minimum educational requirement for employment as a motorcycle mechanic, according to the BLS. However, you might be able to land a job with less education, provided you have basic reading and math skills. Once you're hired, your education will take place on the job under the supervision of a more experienced mechanic.

Certification Requirements

Some states require motorcycle mechanics who perform major repairs to be certified. This can entail passing a written exam and submitting an application.

Useful Skills

In addition to learning how small engines work, you might want to use your time as a trainee to develop skills and abilities in other areas. Below are some of the traits employers are looking for:

  • Ability to diagnose problems and read electrical schematics
  • Communication skills to explain repair procedures and system failures to customers and coworkers
  • Ability to work with hand tools and lift or maneuver bikes
  • Computer skills to use word processing, diagnostic, time tracking and inventory management software

Job Postings from Real Employers

One of the most common requirements listed by employers is the ability to ride or road test a motorcycle. Applicants for most positions will need a driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement. Other experience and training requirements can vary. Details from a search of March 2012 job posts are listed below:

  • A Harley-Davidson dealer in Connecticut is looking for a full-time motorcycle mechanic. Job duties include setting up new bikes, repairing used bikes and performing scheduled maintenance. Applicants must have computer skills, electrical diagnostic skills and a willingness to work overtime and weekends.
  • A staffing company in Arizona is looking for a motorcycle mechanic with a high school diploma and at least three years of experience working in a Harley-Davidson dealership. Applicants should have also completed a formal training program and a Motorcycle Safety Foundation safety course.
  • A motorcycle technician who can also work as a service writer is needed for a Connecticut Harley-Davidson dealer. Applicants must have at least two years of experience working at a Harley-Davidson dealership.

How to Beat the Competition

Complete a Formal Training Program

The BLS states that employers often prefer to hire mechanics who've completed technical or community college training programs. Earning a motorcycle repair certificate, diploma or associate degree could put you ahead of applicants with only a high school diploma. Program requirements often include extensive coursework and hands-on instruction in such topics as fuel systems, power transmissions, diagnostics and repair estimates. This training can also develop your knowledge of electronics, another quality employers look for when hiring, according to iseek.org.

Get Certified

According to the BLS, employers often send their mechanics to motorcycle manufacturer training courses. Earning voluntary certification from one of these companies could be a way to make yourself more attractive to potential employers. Several motorcycle manufacturers offer certification to technicians, such as the Harley-Davidson PHD, Suzuki Service Pro and Honda Registered Technician designations. These can usually be earned after completing dealer-approved coursework offered through a technical school.

Other Careers to Consider

Automotive Service Technician

If you enjoy fixing motorized vehicles but want a job without seasonal work hours, a career as an automotive service technician might be a good alternative. Training for this field can also take place on the job, but you'll still need to complete a formal training program for the best employment opportunities. As of May 2011, automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median salary of just over $36,000, which was slightly more than motorcycle mechanics. However, a 17% job growth was projected for auto technicians over the 2010-2020 decade, which was slower than that of motorcycle mechanics, according to the BLS.

Home Appliance Repair Technician

If you're more interested in repairing electronics, you might consider becoming a home appliance repair technician. Like motorcycle mechanics, these professionals don't need any postsecondary education, though employers prefer applicants who've completed an electronics repair program. Workers in this profession earned a median annual wage of around $35,000 as of May 2011. Employment prospects weren't quite as favorable, though. The BLS reported that job opportunities in this field were only expected to grow 7% over the reporting decade.

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Lincoln Tech

  • Automotive Technology

What year did you graduate High School / Receive GED?

Universal Technical Institute

  • Diesel Technology
  • Automotive Technology

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Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma: Auto Repair Technician
  • Career Diploma: Motorcycle Repair Technician
  • Career Diploma: Diesel Mech. and Heavy Truck Maint.

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • High School with Automotive Repair Technician Pathway
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Washtenaw Community College

Southside Virginia Community College

Red Rocks Community College

Pickens Technical College