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Old 01-14-08, 05:28 PM   #1
carbonjockey
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bicycle career

I am a highschool student seeking some advice. I have worked in a bike shop for about a year, and now am trying to figure out what to do about college. the question part of this is what kinda degrees did you guys get and what do you do for your job.(preferably coming from someone deeper in the industry than a fellow wrench). thanks
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Old 01-14-08, 05:51 PM   #2
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I am a highschool student seeking some advice. I have worked in a bike shop for about a year, and now am trying to figure out what to do about college. the question part of this is what kinda degrees did you guys get and what do you do for your job.(preferably coming from someone deeper in the industry than a fellow wrench). thanks

Get out while you still can! The advanced positions in the bike industry are usually sales and management related. Often degrees in Business Administration or Communications will help you in that direction.

When I got out of it 10+ years ago there may have been a couple guys making $30K out of maybe 200 bike shop employees (not owners) in Seattle. Take your vow of poverty now.
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Old 01-14-08, 06:50 PM   #3
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Learn web design. Every bike shop needs an attractive and useful web site.
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Old 01-14-08, 10:47 PM   #4
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Get out while you still can! The advanced positions in the bike industry are usually sales and management related. Often degrees in Business Administration or Communications will help you in that direction.

When I got out of it 10+ years ago there may have been a couple guys making $30K out of maybe 200 bike shop employees (not owners) in Seattle. Take your vow of poverty now.

I hear this opinion lots from former bike industry guys. It's valid and low income is prevalent in bike jobs. However, what makes a sucessful career in this profession. What about a successful bike shop owner. What type of salaries do they make?
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Old 01-14-08, 10:52 PM   #5
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The industry is bigger than your LBS. It is global as well as local. It has taken me to more countries than I can list. I now live in Asia and continue to work in the industry.
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Old 01-15-08, 08:20 AM   #6
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Are you interested in a career in the bike industry in general, or specifically in engineering or design? If the latter, you may not end up designing bikes, so also branch out a bit into electrical and general vehicle (including automotive) engineering, or materials science/engineering (this is a big emerging field, especially in nanotech, and in electronics), etc. maybe.

Example, a coworker of mine worked in bike shops for a while, his job is mechanical design and engineering for manufacturing vehicles (electric) and equipment. He studied mechanical engineering at an engineering college.

If you're not sure you'll like engineering, you can go to a university that has a good engineering department or college as well as other good departments, so you can switch if you don't like it.

There are lots of other disciplines sort of related to cycling... biomechanics, general physics, materials engineering .
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Old 01-15-08, 11:57 AM   #7
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Don't forget about Aerospace (Aeronautical) Engineering, In my four years of college, i have done everything from aerodynamics: 2 courses plus research on computational fluid dynamics{basically using computers to design and solve complex aerodynamic problems** to Materials : 1 course in structures, 1 in Finite Element Analysis ( again, computers solving problems) and now I am in a Composites Course. I've also done several courses on dynamics, learned 3D modeling software, Solidworks (same thing Trek uses) and with a few extra courses you can take some machine design, or other materials class like fatigue or fracture mechanics (Both Aero/ Mech classes here)

- If you find a school, check to see if they have an Interdisciplinary Engineering Program. I'm not really familiar with it here, but from what i hear its mainly a pick and choose a bunch of classes that suit you and get a degree! :-)

Look for a school with a cycling team!
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Old 01-15-08, 01:19 PM   #8
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Go to college and take classes that you like. Major in those classes. Work on bikes in your spare time.
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Old 01-15-08, 01:30 PM   #9
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Learn web design. Every bike shop needs an attractive and useful web site.
HA! I have over 25 years in the IT industry and can tell you that web designers (mostly from India) are a dime a dozen. Those offshore dudes work for peanuts. I've known a few guys in the bike biz. Most of the guys owning a shop still don't make huge cash, work long hours and mainly do it because they love it. A couple pals have worked for big firms like Litespeed, Titus, etc as project managers. Thus, I'd say get a business degree in marleting or management. It is more portable to other industries.
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Old 01-15-08, 02:06 PM   #10
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Go to college and take classes that you like. Major in those classes. Work on bikes in your spare time.
Absolutely the best advice here. For many people, turning their hobby/pastime into a job destroys all the joy you once had in it. Leave yourself lots of options, particularly since the world you face is entirely more dangerous career-wise than the world we faced.

Eric
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Old 01-15-08, 03:35 PM   #11
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Absolutely the best advice here. For many people, turning their hobby/pastime into a job destroys all the joy you once had in it. Leave yourself lots of options, particularly since the world you face is entirely more dangerous career-wise than the world we faced.

Eric
Which is why something like Business or Communication is a good option. It will apply to nearly any "industry" job. A lot of people start out in customer service, picking in a warehouse or as a rep before getting a really cool industry job.
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Old 01-15-08, 06:07 PM   #12
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There are a couple of good schools for bike mechanic'ing. One of 'em in Colorado Springs, world reknown and actually REI sends all of their mechanics to it.

I would say work part-time in a shop in college and study what you're into. I thought I would end up doing something useful, but ended up with a philosophy degree. For a while I was disconcerted, but it has proven to be the most useful thing I could have done.

Follow your passion, most of all. Just do things that sound awesome, and seek them out. Check out framebuilding schools like this one: www.yamaguchibike.com

Nice way to spend 2 weeks in the summer, eh?

Ride your bike and get to know people...go on group rides, big events and stick your nose into the business. You might realize you don't like it. I did that with skiing, and ended up in finance and couldn't be happier. At least here I expect to be stabbed in the back
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Old 01-15-08, 06:32 PM   #13
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Are you interested in a career in the bike industry in general, or specifically in engineering or design? If the latter, you may not end up designing bikes, so also branch out a bit into electrical and general vehicle (including automotive) engineering, or materials science/engineering (this is a big emerging field, especially in nanotech, and in electronics), etc. maybe.
I did automotive and machine design for 11 years before I said screw it and now I am a partner in a bike shop. I earn ~25% of what I used to and I've never been happier.

If you like designing cupholders and other useless "innovations" while working in a cubicle and waiting for your job to get outsourced to China or India have fun.

I'm not jaded or nothing, just saying is all.
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Old 01-16-08, 12:50 PM   #14
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umr_aero442, great point. After all, guess where did the Wright Brothers' knowlege, experience and skills come from?
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Old 01-16-08, 12:52 PM   #15
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I_bRAD, well, it depends on what kind of company you work for. We design robots, and it's pretty interesting. (Though it does require sitting on your butt in a cubicle, unfortunately.)
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Old 01-16-08, 02:24 PM   #16
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First of all, get a college degree. Anything you can do in the bike biz without a degree, you can do with one. The opposite cannot be said. Give yourself options.

One other way to make your mark in the cycling biz - You could take frame building classes and build custom frames. There seems to be a burgeoning market for custom bikes...not everyone wants to ride "off-the-rack."

www.bikeschool.com
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Old 01-16-08, 02:55 PM   #17
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Wrench your way through school and do something that you like to do or think you want to do. Don't settle for the Bicycle Industry as your only option.

I went into the Military for 6 years, started working in a job in Imaging Systems, learned about Digital Imaging as it was being invented, and as my sideline, worked in shops when I had the need or was too stressed out. Seems counterintuitive to be working 2 jobs to relieve your stress, but it works for me.
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Old 01-16-08, 03:17 PM   #18
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Have your parents pay for your sociology degree while you live at home. Work at your bike-shop through college, and then once you get your degree...unionize the shop and try to screw the owner who is already paying you above-average wages for the job you are doing.

[Sorry, that was sarcasm ]

Last edited by DogBoy; 01-16-08 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 01-16-08, 04:13 PM   #19
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Have your parents pay for your sociology degree while you live at home. Work at your bike-shop through college, and then once you get your degree...unionize the shop and try to screw the owner who is already paying you above-average wages for the job you are doing.

[Sorry, that was sarcasm ]
Too funny!!
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Old 01-16-08, 04:52 PM   #20
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Get the business degree. Bidness is bidness. I've been involved with numerous ones over my adult life and they all share the common thread that sound business knowledge will assist it being profitable.
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