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Best path for getting a job as a mechanic? Minneapolis/Saint Paul

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Best path for getting a job as a mechanic? Minneapolis/Saint Paul

Old 07-05-13, 05:07 PM
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RunningBulldog
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Best path for getting a job as a mechanic? Minneapolis/Saint Paul

Hey,

I'm 50 and have a "high powered" career doing network security for a Fortune 100 company. For "high powered", read "high stress and it's going to kill me eventually".

When my last kid is out of college in 6 years (estimated) I intend to 'downshift' to something way less stressful. I still will need income, but not as much. 20 - 30 hours a week at 10 or 12 bucks an hour will be fine. Low stress is what I'm after, doing something I enjoy.

I love working on bikes. I can pretty much do a lot of the stuff already, although I haven't built a wheel from scratch yet. But I'm pretty much capable of fixing pretty much anything on a bike, at least on a 'replace the component' level.

So, what would be my best avenue for getting my skills upgraded to pro, and then getting a job as a bike mechanic?

Classes? Apprenticeship? Get a job at a larger store as an assembler and 'work up'?

Thanks,
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Old 07-05-13, 05:30 PM
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I would ask at local shops what they would like to see as far as background from a prospective employee. See if any offer Mechanic Training courses or more advanced consumer courses. What's most important is learning more than just the rote procedures but rather actual troubleshooting and technical information. Personally I believe a logical mindset, curiosity and creativity, along with a good work ethic and communication skills are more important than a given set of knowledge.

You can get a lot of exposure by working at a bike co-op, though The Hub Co-op appears to use paid staff (a co-op can be member owned, worker owned or both, and can be mostly volunteer, partly or all paid staff).

Barnett's and UBI schools are always an option, and there are shops in your area that are listed as Park Tool School participants. http://www.parktool.com/dealer/locat...on=minneapolis
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Old 07-05-13, 05:31 PM
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If you have some skills now, build on them working at a co-op.

BTW- your most valuable asset won't be your mechanical skill but your general experience and people skills. Many younger mechanic applicants are bikeies and have poor work habits, limited wok experience, and often poor people skills. Your general experience sets you apart, and can make you a welcome addition to a bike shop.
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Old 07-05-13, 05:44 PM
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Are you a "regular" at an LBS in your area? Do the staff and owner know you? If so, ask what they would want in a new hire and let them know you will be available in the future. Perhaps they can guide you as to what you will need to know and what training they would like you to have.
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Old 07-05-13, 07:44 PM
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i started volunteering at a non profit bike shop. later got a job at a different company as an assembler and worked my way up. i work in a bigger store so the roles are more defined. in a smaller store you may do a bunch of stuff like wrenching, sales, and ordering. i am kind of in the opposite of your position. young(26) and not sure if i want to stay in the bike business. i am making top pay or close to it as a wrench in for my area and not sure if i want to stay. there is a career path where i am at but moving up is a little slow. next step for me is being a service manager but that is about a 5k bump in pay and longer hours, my boss works crazy hours not sure if i want that. top pay around here that i have seen is 15-16/hr. service manager positions i see are 35-40k. i am thinking of moving on and using my skills at a more corporate environment. what is your skill set right now for bike mechanic work?
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Old 07-06-13, 05:06 AM
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Thanks for all the replies. This is actually really helpful.

I don't know how to benchmark my skills. I'm pretty analytical/mechanical, I'm a luthier, I cast bronze and aluminum, I once built a tower clock out of modified chain sprockets and angle iron, designing as I went. ( 20 meg Vid at http://www.tc.umn.edu/~austi012/clock/clock_video.MOV ). I've torn bikes down to bare frame, painted them, and reassembled. I've built crazy tricycles out of junk, including one with rear wheels that camber into turns.



Bottom line, there's nothing here I couldn't handle or figure out, given time. Where I might fall down is working quickly enough for a commercial shop, until I got fluid enough and learned the most efficient way to do things, and learned the business end of matters.
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Old 07-06-13, 05:24 AM
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One thing you might consider is volunteering for the Twin Cities Free Bikes 4 Kidz annual program which runs October-December every year. About 5,000 bikes are repaired every year and you get a chance to rub elbows with others in the Twin City cycle business. I've done it and met many shop and cycle business owners (ie Park Tools, Quality Bicycle Products) thru the experience. Here's a picture of the bikes from a couple of years ago at the Hopkins warehouse where they were stored and repaired.
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Old 07-06-13, 05:50 AM
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Old 07-06-13, 05:59 AM
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Check out one of The Hub bike co-op shops. Great people there and should be opportunity to expand your mech skills and hone the people skills you will be using in a regular bike shop. The shop near the U of M is pretty small but busy, the other two are significantly larger. I visit the Minnehaha/Lake St. shop every time I get down there. Great place to hunt vintage parts. Here are some numbers:

3020 Minnehaha Ave S 612-729-0437
301 Cedar Ave S 612-238-3593
401 SE Oak St 612-624-9468

As far as the pro shops around the Twin Cities, my best experiences have been with the Erik's shops.
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Old 07-06-13, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by RunningBulldog View Post
Thanks for all the replies. This is actually really helpful.

I don't know how to benchmark my skills. I'm pretty analytical/mechanical, I'm a luthier, I cast bronze and aluminum, I once built a tower clock out of modified chain sprockets and angle iron, designing as I went. ( 20 meg Vid at http://www.tc.umn.edu/~austi012/clock/clock_video.MOV ). I've torn bikes down to bare frame, painted them, and reassembled. I've built crazy tricycles out of junk, including one with rear wheels that camber into turns.



Bottom line, there's nothing here I couldn't handle or figure out, given time. Where I might fall down is working quickly enough for a commercial shop, until I got fluid enough and learned the most efficient way to do things, and learned the business end of matters.
if you work at a shop that cares about efficiency then they will teach you the fast way. i had prior experience when i started and was a little stubborn with learning their way. i am now the fastest guy in the company. again the smaller shops are run more inefficient with people doing many roles. my main focus is labor and mechanical work 4 days a week then 1 weekend day i will play service writer. we do not do any labor on weekends. i think that for you starting out doing assembly will be where to start. most shops want proven experience. when i was looking for jobs everyone wanted experience. did not get many call backs besides EMS and my current employer. i moved my way up pretty quick in assembly.
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