Are you someone who has been wondering how you can turn your knowledge about the inner workings of dirt bikes into a career? With a little research and a little more work, you can easily turn your knowledge into a reliable and personally rewarding career!
Dirt Bike and Motorcycle Mechanics make $24-36,000 a year, based on skill, availability, and rates they charge. A high school diploma or GED equivalent is generally required to begin the schooling or training needed to become a certified mechanic. These classes are found at trade schools, community colleges, and some four-year universities.
Now, of course, there are specifics, variables, and other information you’re going to need before you can reliably take this adventure on, so let’s get learning!
So You Want To Be A Dirt Bike Mechanic?
Becoming a dirt bike mechanic isn’t generally something you do unless you find working with your hands, manual labor, or specifically working on dirt bikes, personally rewarding.
While you can make an average of thirty thousand dollars a year, with the possibility of being entrepreneurial, having your own hours, and working from a location of your choice, you may also end up with none of those things, working in a hot garage under someone else, getting paid less than you wanted, and working either more hours than is convenient, or not getting the hours you need.
With the national average for job satisfaction at fifty-one percent as of 2017, motorcycle and dirt bike mechanics actually rate higher than the average in job satisfaction at a whopping sixty two percent. Thirty-eight percent of dirt bike and motorcycle mechanics say that they feel like their job makes the world a better place and that it improves the quality of somebody else’s life.
Hopefully, you aren’t thinking about going into this particular field because you are wanting to minimize contact with other people. While you will, of course, be spending most of your time working on machines, you are going to have to interact with a number of different people.
The customers bringing their bikes in, the people emailing or calling you asking for quotes on repairs, people scheduling appointments, and the people you’re going to be buying the parts from that you need for your repairs.
Having the people skills sufficient to build rapport with customers and the people you’re purchasing from is an absolutely necessary skill to possess if you’re providing people will a service. As odd as it may sound, you aren’t only selling them repairs, you’re selling yourself.
As long as the services itself is equivalent, people will choose a kind, honest, charismatic person that they can trust, every single time over anyone else who offers the same service.
However, it’s not just enough to be passive and simply complete the service. People need to remember you, and they need to remember you in a positive light, so they will be more inclined to come back to you and recommend your services to the people they know.
The salary range for dirt bike and motorcycle mechanics ranges from twenty-four thousand dollars to thirty-six thousand dollars a year.
The amount you earn will obviously vary based on the number of hours worked, what you charge for repair (or hourly wage you earn if you’re working for someone else), what you pay for the parts you use in your repairs, which state you work in, and what kind of industry you are employed in.
Best States To Work
If, for example, you’re a dirt bike or motorcycle repairman, or a mechanic in California, you can make around forty-one thousand five hundred dollars a year. However, if you’re working specifically in the wholesale trade industry in California, you can make around forty-six thousand six hundred dollars per year.
While of course, you need to consider the higher cost of living in California to be a factor, California is the state with the highest average pay for a dirt bike or motorcycle mechanic. Maryland ranks second highest on the list, with an average dirt bike mechanic salary of thirty-nine thousand, nine hundred and forty dollars a year.
While you do get hit with a slight decrease in your earnings per year, when you consider the substantially lower cost of living in Maryland, that deduction from your paycheck is more than worth it.
Manufacturing, on average, is the best industry to find the highest salary when it comes to being a dirt bike or motorcycle mechanic. This is quickly followed by wholesale trade, which, if you remember, is the highest paying industry in California.
The lowest paying industries (on average) are “Other Servies” (other than public administration), and Retail Trade, which has you making thirty-one thousand a year, and almost thirty-four thousand a year, respectively.
Worst States to Work
If you’re wanting to know which states provide the lowest annual compensation for dirt bike and motorcycle technicians, look no further!
West Virginia, out of all fifty states, reports the lowest annual income for dirt bike mechanics and technicians, at an average of twenty-two thousand five hundred fifty dollars a year. This is not somewhere you’re going to want to live if you’re hoping to make “big bucks”, or support…. well, really anyone but yourself. Hopefully, you have a second job, or you’re living with someone who is helping pay the bills.
Making almost half of what someone with the same job would make in California? You’re for sure going to want to rethink either your location or your occupation.
South Carolina comes in with the second-worst dirt bike mechanic salary at twenty-seven thousand, two hundred fifty dollars a year. However, all things considered, if you HAD to pick one of those places to live and work as a motorcycle or dirt bike mechanic, South Carolina is the choice that I would personally take. Not only will you make an average of five thousand dollars more a year, but the annual cost of living in South Carolina is only slightly higher than it will cost you (on average) to live in West Virginia.
You will be making more, which means you will be able to save larger portions of your paycheck! The more money you save, the more money you can spend on your dirt bike, am I right? That right there is what we call a “win-win” situation.
Idaho comes in third, paying just two hundred fifty dollars more a year than South Carolina. Now, as far as the annual cost of living goes, Idaho is almost smack dab in the middle between South Carolina and West Virginia, making it slightly cheaper than South Carolina, and a little more expensive than West Virginia.
If (for some reason) you’re wanting to work as a dirt bike and motorcycle mechanic in one of the three lowest-earning states for your chosen occupation, I still think you should go with Idaho. Now, granted, Idaho and South Carolina are on opposite sides of the United States from each other, bringing a number of other factors into the equation, like the ease of access to your family, living proximity to where your schooling is if you’re still a student, and what kind of terrain you’re wanting easy access to for your dirt bike riding, assuming you own a dirt bike.
Working in Idaho would only earn you around two hundred and fifty dollars more a year on average, and the cost of living is slightly lower. There are a wider variety of available terrains in close proximity to one another, as well as a number of trade schools, community colleges, and universities where you could pursue your certification.
Though it may not initially seem this way, an education is absolutely a necessity for motorcycle and dirt bike mechanics. If absolutely nothing else, having an education in the field you are exploring will always give you an edge over the people looking to enter that field who don’t have an education.
The vast majority of mechanics shops will require you to have some kind of automotive-related certificate to prove that you actually know what you’re doing. The schooling and training to qualify for one of these certificates can be found at a number of places, which we’ll go over shortly.
There are a small number of colleges that offer degrees specific to the world of dirt bikes and motorcycles, like “an Associate Degree in Motorcycle Technology” or ” an Associate Degree in Motorcycle Repair”, and these are very highly valued by employers.
That being said, though those degrees are useful, they aren’t necessary. Many automotive shops will accept an automotive certificate, and like I mentioned earlier, having one will always give you an edge over job applicants who don’t.
Regardless of which school you choose, make sure you research and consider things like class size, job placement rate, whether or not the school is accredited, size of the available faculty, campus sizes and locations, as well as graduated reviews, to get the best possible idea of the environment you’ll be learning in.
It’s worth mentioning that most automotive shops if you’re specifically working on motorcycles and dirt bikes, will require you to actually possess a current motorcycle license. As I mentioned before, the vast majority of things are best learned in practice, and not in theory. Actually owning and operating a motorcycle will teach you a lot of things that reading about and working on other people’s bikes won’t teach you.
I think it’s fairly safe to assume if you’re wanting to become a dirt bike and motorcycle mechanic, you probably own one of those two things, along with a license to run it. However, if you don’t have a license to run your motorbike, and this is news to you, now you know.
Personal experience is one of the best teachers out there. Personal experience, especially when it comes to things like mechanical knowledge, is generally driven by passion, which is something you want, some most certainly something that will make a difference to you in your schooling and work environments.
Loving what you do, or hating what you is almost always obvious to customers, and if they can tell that you aren’t loving what you’re doing, they will come back a second time. Having a positive passion about your job will only ever help you, in all areas of your journey to becoming a good dirt bike mechanic.
Personal experience is generally what gets people interested in having a job like this, jobs that lean more into the “trade” side of occupations, rather than other occupations, like becoming a surgeon, where you more than likely (hopefully) aren’t pursuing that particular job because you’ve had personal experience operating on people.
While this most certainly isn’t going to be true for every situation or every mechanic, personal experience is incredibly valuable. This is one of the situations where you’d be able to learn specifics “tricks of the trade” that your mother, father, or other teachers have picked up and used over the years. Learning with an application is always a better alternative to learning with theory, and it will give you a jump start when you go to whatever school you choose in order to get your certification.
Most secondary education systems will require a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate, such as a GED. Keep in mind of course that each place of education will have it’s own admission requirements. Some may require or ask to see standardized test scores, such as the SAT, or state-specific test scores, such as the ISAT for Idaho.
Each school also holds the possibility of having their own set of admissions tests in order to further screen their applicants.
The severity and difficulty of the required materials and tests will also be dependant on the type of school you’re looking to attend.
For example, a trade school may care less about your standardized test score than, say, a four-year university would. While you’re doing the research and picking a school, make sure you look at their admission requirements.
Trade schools, vocational colleges, or technical schools are post-secondary education institutions that provide training and education for students who are seeking to enter employment that usually requires more hands-on experience. Trade schools provide you not only with “theory” training but hands-on experience as well.
A great example of a trade school that provides education and certification perfect for an aspiring dirt bike and motorcycle mechanic is “Universal Technical Institute Inc.”.
Universal Technical Institute’s Motorcycle Mechanics Division is considered to be one of the best available. As one of the few trade schools that actually gives you training specifically using techniques used by top motorcycle dealerships from around the United States, it’s an excellent learning opportunity.
In addition to teaching you specific and useful techniques, they also give you training on the top and most popular motorbikes being used. This training includes bikes like Yamaha, Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, Honda, and BMW, giving you a priceless education not just in generics and generalities, but specifics and differences between the different styles of bikes that you’ll need to know.
Providing you with real, hands-on experience, you won’t have to wait to find and start a job before you can pick up needed knowledge and contact with the different models of bikes you’ll be working on, as well as experienced, seasoned mechanics who are there specifically to help you learn and become more knowledgable in the field you’re pursuing.
Training in this specific trade school lasts for a total of forty-eight weeks, with an optional twelve to twenty-four-week training devoted completely to manufacturer-specific repairs.
Campuses for this trade school can be found all over, making a quality education in the field you need very easily accessible, and with classes starting every six weeks, you’re never going to be far away from your potential enrollment date.
With a focus specifically on real-world skills, graduating employable students, and connections with a number of different manufacturers, Universal Technical Institute is a fantastic choice.
Community Colleges and Four Year Universities
While less common, there are a number of colleges and four-year universities that offer classes that, when you graduate, you will have received the training necessary to possess an automotive certificate.
However, that being said, many colleges won’t offer dirt bike and motorcycle specific training, instead offering classes instead of on “small engines”, and similar things.
While it’s most certainly something worth looking into, keep in mind that, unless you’re able to qualify for some kind of financial aid, you’re going to be paying college tuition, which hardly ever comes within the realm of qualifying under the definition “cheap”. Or often, “affordable”. You may also have to follow specific rules and university standards as one of their students, such as living in university housing as a freshman, or other criteria.
Job Responsibilities and Possibilities
As a dirt bike mechanic, you’ll make more money and have more work opportunity by not working exclusively on dirt bikes. Many, if not most, dirt bike mechanics works on a variety of other vehicles, such as motorcycles, pit bikes, and occasionally ATVs.
Depending on your skill set, education, and, of course, desire to work, you may also have the opportunity or cause to work on and repair scooters, mopeds, and jet skis, as the engines of many of those vehicles are very similar to one another.
By working on a variety of vehicles you’ll have many opportunities for growth, and you’ll expand your knowledge base, which will make you worth more!
You’ll need to be trained and have familiarity with a number of power tools, as well as heavy machinery. Working with any kind of vehicle or engine will always carry some inherent risks, so it’s important that you know your way around the shop, as this can be a dangerous job.
The workshop or warehouse you work in will be noisy, contain hazardous materials, and as I mentioned before, a number of potentially dangerous power and other tools, so caution and occasionally protective wear may need to be utilized.
Depending on where you work, whether you run your own business, or work under someone else, you’ll typically work 40 hour weeks, with possible overtime, depending on the workload and your boss, if you have one.
As a dirt bike mechanic, motorcycle mechanic, ATV mechanic, or more, your duties and responsibilities will vary.
Most commonly, a mechanic in this specific field will be doing things such as repairing and tuning up dirt bike and motorcycle assemblies like the transmissions, drive chains, forks, and brakes according to the need of the bike or the rider. Remember, as a mechanic, people won’t just be coming to you to FIX their bike, they’ll also more than likely come to you to help them perform various adjustments or customizations to their bikes, like gearing.
You’ll also be doing things like testing engines, measuring output, troubleshooting ignition problems, as well as troubleshooting other engine problems in general.
Listening to a bike run and being able to get an idea of what could be wrong is an important skill to have, as it will enable you to use less time on diagnoses and more time on the repair.
To some extent, you’ll need to have people skills. Once you’ve looked over the frame, the engine, and other components of the bike, you’re going to need to be able to work with the customer to accurately convey the extent of the damage and sell the idea of the repair to them.
Your job isn’t to simply repair bikes, you need to be able to convince people that they need to have work done on their machines. That being said, make sure you’re being honest. The mechanics who get the most business are generally the ones whose business gets spread by word of mouth from one current customer to a potential customer, and that’s not going to happen if people don’t trust you, or have a negative experience with you or your business.
Finding a Job or Building a Business
Finding a Job
One of the many perks of pursuing an education in any field, even if it’s a field like this one where you may be able to learn everything you need on your own, is job placement.
Many, if not all trade schools, community colleges, and four-year universities are set up to help their students graduate and get placed in the workforce as soon as possible.
For example, Brigham Young University – Idaho, which has an automotive department, requires its students to complete internships prior to graduation. Not only does this give their students needed and valuable experience that looks fantastic on resumes, but it gives them real life connections that can be used when finding a job.
Attending career fairs, or using university alumni lists is another fantastic way to build relationships and find genuine connections that can be used to find a job. Talking to your professors, canvassing local businesses, pouring through job listings, and using personal friendships and existing connections are all perfectly normal and valid ways to find a job placement.
I do want to emphasize school resources.
The vast majority of schools where you would earn your certificate will have programs and resources available to you that are meant to help their students find jobs. Is this entirely altruistic? Nope. Schools of all kinds are rated on their ability to place students in jobs, and graduate employable students.
But, as long as you get your job, who cares? Talk to your different school offices, find out what resources you have available to you, and USE THEM. It doesn’t matter how old you are, don’t be embarrassed. If the opportunity is there, use it.
Starting a Business
Finding a job after you graduate with your certificate may work differently for you if you’re wanting to start up your own place. Some people need to be their own boss, or maybe you’ve just always dreamt of owning your own mechanic’s shop. How would you go about that?
This topic alone could be it’s own blog post, but I’ll list a framework that can be used to start your shop, and you can use it to do additional research to help you get started.
- Conduct Market Research
Before you start a business, make sure that your idea is sustainable. Look into job projections, make sure that you’re not going to sink yourself doing when you start.
- Write Up a Business Plan
If you don’t plan it out, you may run into problems you could have avoided otherwise. MAKE A PLAN!
Where are you getting the money for your project? Are you going to have to take out a loan? Are you using existing funds?
- Select Your Business Location
Do you have a building already? Are you going to have to pay rent on the building?
- What Kind of Business Structure Are You Using?
This decision will impact your legal structure, liability, taxes, etc.
- Choose a Name!
This can be a fun part of your plan. Will you have a logo to go with your name? Font, color style, all these things need to be considered when selecting your brand.
- Register Your Business
This will make everything legal and give you protection, it’s kind of like getting a patent for your business.
- Get Your Federal and State Tax ID.
This is like a personal identification code for your business.
- Check to make sure you have all the needed licenses and permits.
You can get into severe legal trouble if you haven’t gone through the proper channels and made things right with the government.
- Get a Business Bank Account.
This will help you keep finances straight, and make it easier to automate things like taxes and fees.