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Old 01-01-06, 09:29 AM   #1
610
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2 occupational questions for bicycle mechanics

I know bicycle mechanics make jack **** for salary so I am curious if someone can answer these question(s):

1) What do you do for health insurance? Do you just go without?

2) Have you ever had to rely on any government assistance? (food stamps, etc?)
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Old 01-01-06, 11:18 AM   #2
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1, I pay my own, BlueCross, every month.
2. No. When I first started I worked two(Three for a while) jobs. Now I make decent money.
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Old 01-01-06, 12:15 PM   #3
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i have health insurance with no copay and work year round, but i think i'm in the minority. i don't know how my boss pulls it off with four employee this time of year, but gift horse and such.

no government cheese for me, but i've at times looked into it enough to know i'm above the "poverty" threshold, which doesn't mean much in real life. luckily or unluckily, i live with four other people, which means making ends not too big a chore.
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Old 01-01-06, 01:03 PM   #4
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back when I was wrenching for money there was no health insurance for shop rats. Mostly I either kept moving back home, or I had other cheap living arangements to try to make ends meet. That's why I ended up leaving professional bike mechanicry and got a real job

I still fix a lot of people's bikes though... http://www.borrachosybicicletas.org ...only now I do it for free and because I want to.
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Old 01-01-06, 02:42 PM   #5
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I was on my parents insurance policy for most of the time I worked in shops, the rest of the time school covers my ass.
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Old 01-01-06, 02:54 PM   #6
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I was lucky enough to work for shops that offered health inusrance to all full-timers. In fact, one of the shops (Freewheeling in Austin ... good folks) gave me the only retirement plan I've ever had. Health insurance was never cheap, but being on a group plan is usually more affordable than going it alone. Most of the guys I worked with chose to skip the health insurance and instead pocket the $50 per month it would have cost them. Stupid thing to do, if you ask me, especially if you ride a bike.

No public assistance for me. Tax time was always fun, though. Most of the time, the government would just shake it's head in pity and give me all of my taxes back.
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Old 01-01-06, 03:13 PM   #7
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Interesting questions. Are you asking out of curiosity or is there an agenda?

In the beginning:
1. In the first couple years at a small shop I went without health ins. for awhile.
2. I never used govt. assistance but I think I would have qualified based on my W2s but they didn't reflect all my pay since some was under the table.

Now:
1. I work for a large bicycle and fitness retailer with 6 stores and have been with them for 7 years so benefits are o.k.
2. No
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Old 01-01-06, 03:32 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Pete Hamer
Interesting questions. Are you asking out of curiosity or is there an agenda?

I thought for a long time that the IT industry was something I wanted to be a part of. Now I'm not so sure. I am actually going back to school in January to get a certificate at a community College to become a Library Technical Assistant. But of course, the employment is limited by what Libraries are doing.

I also love bicycling. I love going into bicycle shops as they feel like they are my second home. So it is with this that I am also looking at bicycle schools (UBI and Barnetts) to perhaps take a few classes this year. It is my hope that once I have done this a LBS will let me work there on the weekends so I can build skill (yes, I am a realist - the experience I get at the bike schools will be invaluable but real experience is where it's at.)

My wife has been very supportive. It is my hope that on either of these paths I can make close to $30k. I know I may need two jobs to achieve this. But working 50-60 hours with these two paths would be a lot more fun than 40 hours at one.

What do they say? It's not work if it's something fun?
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Old 01-01-06, 03:41 PM   #9
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i think you might want to part-time it at a shop before you dump money into a school. i don't think there's much that can be learned at a school that sutherlands or barnett's manual and a lot of hands-on experience can't teach you. and believe me, my job can be a lot of fun, but there can be a lot of headaches and cursing you don't get on the other side of the counter. this is somewhat ameliorated by hijinx and alcohol, but in the end it's still just a job some days.
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Old 01-01-06, 04:12 PM   #10
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Is there a "good" time of year to inquire on working? Is it better now because it's slower?
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Old 01-01-06, 04:36 PM   #11
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Now would not be a good time. Business is slow and it's generally a slow time of year for shop income to pay extra staff. Later in the year bikes need to be built up for spring sales (sales as in bikes going out the door, not sales as in discounts) and more customer service. You'd probably be better off trying to get a job selling in a small shop. You'll have to work on Saturdays and maybe Sundays. Those are busy days for the shop, not convenient for you if you want to ride. Once the shop folks get to know you, and let them know you want to wrench, they'll get you coming in weekdays to help with repairs and builds. I'm assuming you've got no shop wrench experience, it's very different than working on your own bike at your leisure. From there it's time and circumstances that will get you on a full time schedule. And this is a pretty ideal scenario.
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Old 01-01-06, 05:39 PM   #12
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I work for a large corparation and get great benifits. I've NEVER gone to the cheese trough, although I could.
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Old 01-01-06, 05:53 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the input! I am extremely grateful for it!
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Old 01-01-06, 08:01 PM   #14
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1. No health insurance. I'm healthier without it.

2. I don't accept charity.

My wages are really not that bad; $12/hr. for an entry level position, and can increase to the $20ish/hr range after I "prove myself" and stay with the shop for a few years.

EDIT: No benefits though.

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Old 01-01-06, 08:42 PM   #15
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My wages are really not that bad; $12/hr. for an entry level position, and can increase to the $20ish/hr range after I "prove myself" and stay with the shop for a few years.
Any openings?
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Old 01-01-06, 08:43 PM   #16
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Yarrrr!
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Old 01-01-06, 08:45 PM   #17
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Any openings?
Sure, move 1500 miles to the east coast. We are always looking for bike mechanics come march-ish.
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Old 01-02-06, 01:48 AM   #18
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The first shop I worked at had a group insurance plan, and I'm glad I kept it via COBRA when I changed shops, because I crashed and broke my wrist w/in a month. The second shop had no health insurance for employees.

My brother (also a bike mechanic) and I shared an apartment, I owned my truck outright, we had no cable or other luxuries. We lived off of frozen burritos and ramen.

That was 13 years ago.
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Old 01-02-06, 06:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 610
My wife has been very supportive. It is my hope that on either of these paths I can make close to $30k. I know I may need two jobs to achieve this. But working 50-60 hours with these two paths would be a lot more fun than 40 hours at one.

What do they say? It's not work if it's something fun?
The supportive wife part is important, you're a luck man. $30k is possible in the Twin Cities metro area but it might take a person 3-5 years plus formal training before acheiving that kind of pay. We have a lot of big shops, QBP, Park Tool, JandB, Midwest and probably a few other inside the indusrty type companies around here so we are fortunate in that department. Good luck with your decision!
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Old 01-02-06, 06:59 PM   #20
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I forgot to say what I've made and where. I started at $6/hr in TX, came back to MI and made $8.50 at a shop I didn't care for, then went on to make $6/hr at a shop I like, and now make just shy of $10/hr at a really nice shop, but I've almost hit "the glass ceiling" it seems. None of the shops pay benefits. I'm currently paying for my own through my school so I get a decent rate. As I'm really accident prone its important for me to have. I've been averaging 2-3 ER visits a year for awhile now.
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