Get a Job As a Bicycle Mechanic
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Being a bicycle mechanic is a dream job in many people's eyes. The only drawback is that it pays between minimum wage and ten dollars an hour - not good wages!
However, there is a way to make far more money. When you apply for a job at a bike shop, offer to work on a commission-only basis. Some shops will not like this idea because they don't understand it. Others may embrace it, and hire you over all others because you suggested it. Commission pay ranges from twenty-five to fifty percent of the amount charged the customers for repair work, with thirty-three percent being the usual number. So, if a tune-up sells for $29.95, you get just about ten dollars. If you are a really good mechanic, you can do three quality tune-ups per hour. Work out a per-bike price for assemblies too, or leave the assemblies to the other mechanics in the shop.
Although the hierarchies vary from one shop to another, generally the apprentices work entirely under supervision, generally on second-hand bikes owned by the store. Apprentices are moving up when they are asked to do flat tire repairs on customers' bikes without supervision. The intermediate level mechanics work only on assemblies, but as they gain experience are asked to help with simple general repairs on busy days. The regular mechanics work only on repairs for customers. The master mechanics write up service orders, work on racers' bikes, or build frames and specialized bicycles. In fact many master mechanics have graduated to owning their own bicycle shops. Either they started their own, or when the previous owner was ready to sell, made a good offer to the head mechanic.
There are variations of this theme. For instance, a top level mechanic may prefer assemblies because his/her hands stay cleaner. The shop may prefer to have the most experienced pro do the assemblies, because they want the test rides of new bikes to be perfect experiences for the potential customers.
It helps quite a bit if you have previous experience in bicycle shops, but bicycle repair jobs are still pretty easy to get for those without experience. For many shops, you do not need a resume. You simply show up at all the shops in your area, and announce that you are looking for work as a mechanic. Expect to be hired as a helper, apprentice, or for minimum wage if you have no previous experience. However, if you are intelligent and personable, you'll move up to master mechanic quickly.
If all the shops in your area have enough mechanics you can start hanging around. Buy parts often, which is easy to do if you are repairing bikes for friends or customers around your neighborhood. Talk shop, become part of the furniture as much as you can. When the shop does need a mechanic, they'll hire you, their friend, rather than a stranger. You can also offer to help out on busy days - for pay. Tell them they can pay you just like their other mechanics, but no obligation beyond the current rush of business. This way they get to find out if you are what they want, and you get to show them that you are.
You do not have to be the oracle of all knowledge at the beginning. They don't expect it, and would be a bit concerned if you were. They expect that there are going to be some things you don't know, and are usually quite willing to train you. In fact, they may think of training as an ego-boost. Be teachable - keep that old ego in check, and you'll be the perfect person for the job!
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