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Get a Job!

Old 07-24-14, 11:57 AM
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Get a Job!


I've often wondered: How does one go about getting a job as a bike mechanic if one isn't already a bike mechanic; or how does one get one's foot in the door to learn to be a bike mechanic?

At the moment, I work a mind-numbing office gig, and it has occurred to me that I am not getting any younger (I'm 39) and I don't want to spend the remainder of my days miserable, bored, and loathing my job. I really would like to pursue something I'm interested in (dare I say, "passionate" about) irrespective of the pay. Having said that, I do enjoy building and working on my bikes and my friends bikes. I like troubleshooting, working with people, and tinkering with things (I used to be a carpenter in my 20's). And, it goes without saying, I really LOVE times I have more fun taking them apart and putting them back together than actually riding them. Obviously I have ton, and TONS, more to learn to be a competent/fast mechanic, but I would love to have the opportunity to learn more...

Any suggestions on how to convince a bike shop owner that a pencil/paper-pusher has what it takes to work in a bike shop, even starting out as a cashier/clerk or salesperson?

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Old 07-24-14, 12:53 PM
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One of the LBS near me is always (at least it seems by their emails) looking for people to "join their team". Not sure if these are unpaid or paid internships or where you'd start, but you might look into something similar. Also if there's a co-op nearby, they're always looking for volunteers.
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Old 07-24-14, 01:16 PM
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One fellow at the LBS retired from the Austin TX FD, & wanted to do something else..
so went to the Bike mechanics school in Ashland Oregon.

then He bought his own tools . that is a plus.. (owning your own tools is required for car dealer's mechanics)

Bike shops don't pay much, the add on of it + from another pension income helps.
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Old 07-24-14, 05:31 PM
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you either start from the bottom with no experience or you go to bike school to get your foot in the door. getting that break with no experience is hard but if you show promise and good diagnostic skills then you will move up easy. to get it in with no experience you can volunteer at a co op or try to make it in a shop assembling bikes
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Old 07-24-14, 06:13 PM
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Beware that working your passion is different then dreaming it. Also the pay scale is pretty poor (as was mentioned) so do your life style and retirement math. I always viewed attitude, learning ability and personal skills were more important then mechanical ones. the longer you work in a shop the more the latter will improve BUT it's the first three that will be why you're still there learning about the mechanical stuff. Andy.
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Old 07-24-14, 07:21 PM
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After a couple of years of watching my various projects roll in and out of the store, this spring my local co-op offered me a job. Wish I could have taken it (I work in an accounting office and can feel myself growing increasingly dull minute by minute) but couldn't afford the hit in my paycheck. Plus, I like working on bikes and sometimes turning a hobby into your job sucks some of the fun out.
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Old 07-24-14, 09:07 PM
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It is a great industry to work in if you are serious about it. There are A LOT of perks but ask yourself if you are able to live on just above minimum wage starting out and not getting a whole lot higher than that for quite a while. Also depending on where you live, you may have to deal with greatly reduced hours in the winter time so plan for that.

It might be that we have a flood of bike school kids in our town because there is a school here but everyone I have talked to that runs or manages shops locally are very close to calling going to the local bike school with no prior experience disqualifying. We have had nothing but problems with most people that have gone through bike schools. With the right attitude that can certainly be avoided but most come straight out of school with a massive amount of confidence but no experience to back it and when the work gets tricky things get ugly because they are too cocky to ask for help and end up doing something like putting a fork back together with parts that were "not needed" or breaking a SRAM shifter by trying to take it apart to change a cable.

I believe the best way to get a job at a bike shop is to become a familiar face, let them know your interest and even offer to volunteer a bit cleaning or building bikes. If you get a job at the shop most places will have you start by doing not much more than flats and building bikes for quite a while so they can get a good feel for the work you do and as they know your abilities better start giving you more in depth jobs.

The bike industry really is a great place to spend a career if you do not mind a lot of work for not a ton of money but in return getting to meet some amazing people and spend your day around bicycles. I tried to work in my field after college and was miserable, found a job in a bike shop for about 4 years, me and my wife decided to have a baby so I found a "real" job again, hated it as well, moved across the country to a very bike friendly city and have been back in the bike industry since. I couldn't be happier but there are big sacrifices following your passion and it is only up to you if that is worth it to you.
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Old 07-25-14, 10:28 AM
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Here is the IRONY... You will have less time to ride once you begin working in a bike shop. You will need to cater to the retail public.
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