Motorcycle mechanics are specifically trained to help maintain, repair, and overhaul motorcycles. They usually also are skilled at working on transmissions, brakes, exhaust and ignition systems, and making minor repairs to damaged sections of a motorcycle's body. While some mechanics choose to specialize in the maintenance and repair of a few specific makes and models, others may generalize and work on a wide range of models. Opportunities for specialized training at mechanic and vocational schools can help mechanics to increase their niche skill sets and gain certification that specific motorcycle manufacturers might want when hiring. However, motorcycle mechanics often have a diverse set of skills and also can work on numerous types of other small engines, including those on mopeds, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles.
Responsibilities of Motorcycle Mechanics
When a motorcycle breaks down, a mechanic uses a variety of techniques to determine the source of the problem and the extent of the repairs needed. In general, a motorcycle mechanic should be able to:
- Use computerized diagnostic testing equipment
- Complete maintenance checks and do inspections
- Diagnose mechanical and electrical problems
- Replace only a single part or several parts necessary for repairs
- Make an accurate estimate of time required to perform required maintenance and repairs
- Replace worn parts including valves, bearings, pistons, and other internal parts
- Use various types of tools, including hoists, wrenches and compression gauges
- Complete engine overhauls and disassemble engines when required
Motorcycle Mechanic Job Characteristics
Motorcycle mechanics usually work in repair shops that are well ventilated and provide lighting conducive to detail-oriented work. These shops often can be noisy, particularly when engines are being tested. Here's what can be expected on the job:
- You should have a tolerance for noise, grease, and chemicals.
- You may be busier and have more work during the warmer, summer months.
- In most repair shops, routine maintenance may comprise much of your work and you may need to spend significant time on your feet or in other positions to make repairs.
- You may want to work on other small engine equipment, such as snow blowers or all-terrain vehicles, during the off-season when it is less busy.
- You may experience stress associated with meeting expected repair timelines and completing jobs.
The skills that are preferred in a good motorcycle mechanic include:
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work independently
- Comfort with computers and computer diagnostic equipment
- Ability to lift heavy parts and equipment
- Aptitude for following instructions and diagrams in manufacturers manuals
- Commitment to personal safety and that of your co-workers
- Good time management
Motorcycle Mechanic Salary and Career Data
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following data for motorcycle mechanics nationwide:
- Total Employed: 15,420, in 2014
- Job Growth: 6% growth, from 2012 to 2022
- Average Salary: $35,810 in 2014
Those working in Hawaii, Nevada, Alaska, California, and Maryland had the highest mean annual wages, all above $42,000. Job prospects could increase for those with specialty manufacturer certification, and the highest levels of employment were in California followed by Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York.
Education, Certification and Licensing
A high school diploma or equivalent is needed to becoming a motorcycle mechanic, although college training can be found through mechanics and vocational schools. Automobile mechanics, science, and business math are usually part of some postsecondary programs. Things that you should learn through vocational training or on the job include how to:
- Complete routine service and repair tasks
- Replace parts such as spark plugs and ignition points
- Disassemble, assemble, and test new equipment
- Carry out computerized diagnosis and engine overhauls
Three to five years of on-the-job work experience and on-going training may be necessary before you become proficient in all aspects of motorcycle engine repair.
Certification is not needed to seek employment, but individuals can seek specialty certifications through specific manufacturers or mechanics training schools. The program length for these certification programs vary, but they are available for major manufacturers like BMW, Harley-Davidson to Kawasaki. A variety of certifications, including in drivelines, electrical, and generators, also are available through the Equipment & Engine Training Council (EETC).
Licensing is not necessary to work as a motorcycle mechanic.
- Motorcycle dealers and retailers
- Motorcycle repair shops
- Manufacturers and manufacturer facilities
- Local and state law enforcement agencies
- Equipment & Engine Training Council
- Motorcycle Industry Council
- American Motorcyclist Association
- The National Motorcycle Dealers Association
- Independent Motorcycle Repair Shop Association
- Certification Tests, Equipment & Engine Training Council, no date. http://www.eetc.org/?page=CertificationTests
- Motorcycle Mechanics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics. Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493052.htm
- Small Engine Mechanics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/small-engine-mechanics.htm