Going back to school is a great way to further your knowledge in the always-evolving rat race. If your passion is motorcycles, why not pursue a career as a motorcycle technician? There are many schools that offer the right training in furthering your knowledge of all things motorcycle, which will help you get your foot in the door of becoming a motorcycle mechanic.
We spent some time talking with some of the top trade schools in the motorcycle industry in order to give you the rundown on programs offered for prospective motorcycle mechanics. After all, it's only your future at stake.
Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI)
(Phoenix; Orlando, Florida)
Approximated Education Costs: $20,000-$30,000
Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, or MMI as it's more commonly known, is a motorcycle repair division under the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) umbrella known for its automotive, motorcycle, diesel, marine, collision repair, and Nascar technician programs.
MMI is an accredited institution by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and offers programs for eager Harley and other motorcycle manufacturer enthusiast technicians. MMI has become widely recognized by dealerships around the country and abroad for students completing Motorcycle Technician programs from the institute. With motorcycle-repair campuses in Orlando, Florida, and Phoenix, a Harley-enthusiast MMI program consists of 60 weeks entrenched in coursework. Students can choose from three sessions: morning, 7 a.m. to noon; afternoon, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and evening, 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. For the first 36 weeks, students study core motorcycle curriculum involving motorcycle theory and the fundamentals of how motorcycles work in both classroom and hands-on environments. While in school, all tools are provided.
Once the 36-week core classes are completed, a Harley enthusiast then enrolls in the 24-week Late Model curriculum, which is aligned with Harley-Davidson University curriculum. MMI students enrolled in the late-model program can qualify for Harley-Davidson PHD course credits in service procedures, chassis service, electrical diagnostics, and Buell powertrain and engine management systems. Once the student passes the Service Procedures PHD assessment, the student is then eligible to become employed as an authorized Harley dealer mechanic.
According to MMI, curriculum consists of approximately 80 percent hands-on training, and about 20 percent instructor lectures, etc. And of course there are quizzes, exams, homework, etc. It is a school after all. If interested, students can participate in an Early-Model Harley class, which lasts six weeks and covers the design, repair, and maintenance of Harley-Davidson motorcycles dating back to 1936. The student will learn about the design, function, and service procedures for Knucklehead, Panhead, Shovelhead, and Evolution engines.
For program funding, MMI offers the federal PELL grant, and Student Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) to those who apply; as well as federal student loan programs (Stafford loans, Perkins loan). Of course, students are encouraged to apply for institutional and external scholarships, too. After all, grants and scholarships don't need to be repaid.
Obviously, students will need to hang their hats somewhere at the end of the school day, and MMI has resources in place at both the Phoenix and Orlando locations. Apartment and home rentals, roommate shares, and extended stay hotels are available in Phoenix, and a housing-specific website is available for incomoing students to plan their stay (mmihousingaz.com). The Orlando campus offers dorm room accommodations, as well as the resources for finding an apartment or home rental as well as a roommate situation or extended-stay hotel.
Once a student has completed all coursework, MMI claims an 87-90 percent success rate for recent graduates landing jobs. Grads can either go the independent, smaller shop route, or aim toward working in a Harley-Davidson authorized dealership. MMI has a special relationship with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Harley-Davidson University, which can be attended only by mechanics working at a certified Harley-Davidson dealership. MMI also provides its grads with a $1,000 retail tool voucher for Snap-On Tools.
(Ormond Beach, Florida)
Approximated Education Costs: $23,325
WyoTech-Daytona, formerly American Motorcycle Institute (AMI) is located in Ormond Beach, Florida (just outside Daytona Beach). There are five other WyoTech campuses located throughout the continental United States, but only the Daytona campus focuses exclusively on Motorcycle and Marine Technical Training. WyoTech-Daytona is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and offers courses for many motorcycle manufacturer concentrations.
During the Motorcycle Technology program, students receive training on a variety of makes and models, and a variety of motorcycle systems and components, including: Suspension and Brake Systems, Four Stroke and Two Stroke Engines, Fundamentals of Electricity and Electrical Systems, Harley-Davidson Engines I and II, and Harley-Davidson Chassis and Engine Controls. The duration of the program ranges from six to 18 months depending on the student and courses studied. WyoTech-Daytona divides the curriculum in half with about 50 percent of the time spent in the classroom in a lecture-type environment, with the remaining 50 percent spent in the lab with more of a hands-on approach using school-provided tools necessary for completing any job. As for schedule flexibility, not only can students take classes during the day, but for working professionals pursuing the program simultaneously, classes are also offered from 4:30 p.m. to 1:40 a.m.
A graduate looking to pursue a career as a certified technician at a Harley-Davidson dealership will be expected to participate in Harley-Davidson's PHD Certification program. While a graduate of WyoTech-Daytona's Domestic Specialty will help facilitate the process of becoming a Harley technician, WyoTech-Daytona does not offer a Harley-Davidson technician certification.
While attending WyoTech-Daytona, students will need to provide their own accommodations as WyoTech-Daytona does not offer on-site housing, but the campus does offer aid via its student center which provides students with resources for finding a place to live, and much more. For financing your tuition, books, all school fees, etc., and/or housing or living expenses, financial aid is available through WyoTech-Daytona's Financial Aid office for applicable candidates.
Upon completing the WyoTech-Daytona program, all students are encouraged to meet with the career services team. For instance, a recent grad that focused on the Harley-Davidson concentration course of study will meet with a career services counselor for aid in landing a job in the real world with his or her new skill set. The counselors help grads develop employment materials, and will contact potential employers on the grad's behalf, and coach them through the employment process. The student is also responsible for being proactive in the job search, which actually increases their probability of employment, according to WyoTech-Daytona. Most grads work in dealerships or independent repair shops as technicians. Others choose to enter the industry as parts specialists, which provide consumers with recommendations on how to customize or fix up their bikes. Also, students receive a $600 Snap-On tool voucher upon graduation.
PowerSport Institute (PSI)
Approximated Education Costs: $18,400
PowerSport Institute (PSI) is a branch of the Ohio Technical Institute located in Cleveland that focuses on providing quality technical education, with sufficient scope to include both fundamental and specialized technical training so that graduates are prepared to meet both present and future needs of the industry. PSI is solely based in Cleveland and is accredited by Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
For eager American V-twin enthusiasts looking for a career as motorcycle technicians, PSI offers the American V-Twin Specialty, which offers programs that focus on Harley-Davidson, Victory Motorcycles, and S&S Cycle technologies. During the 48 weeks/1,200 clock hours of the program American V-Twin Specialist program students will not only receive a detailed overview of each manufacturer's model specific components, they will be trained to efficiently complete service intervals, safety check inspections, top- and bottom-end servicing, primary and secondary drive functionality, starting, charging, and ignition systems, as well as troubleshooting and diagnostic techniques for each. Following the electrical diagnostics students will also cover fuel system operations and troubleshooting for carburetors and electronic fuel injection as well as operations of multiple fuel management systems utilizing Daytona Twin Tech, Wiseco's Fuel Management Control, S&S's VFI and IST Systems, and Harley-Davidson's Super Tuner.
PSI students will also have the ability to not only learn the duties of a technician in a shop, but also those of a service writer. Every student has the opportunity to be assigned the service writer at the beginning of each day and is responsible for all the other students in lab. Incorporating this responsibility into every student's education prepares him or her for a real-world experience, making him or her far more valuable to employers once they reach the field. Many of the duties that pertain to those of a service writer are correctly filling out repair orders, placing parts orders, writing crash estimates, and techniques on how to properly deal with customers. This program is offered during the day and starting Fall 2010, night classes will also be offered.
In addition to teaching all the major manufacturers of American V-twin technology, PSI also offers a Custom Bike Building/Performance Program for students to incorporate their creativity and innovation in design while focusing on performance driveability, functionality, and safety initiatives while giving them practical experience in motorcycle assembly. This unique program offers the opportunity to combine technical instruction with design elements, such as metal fabrication, laying paint, rebuilding wiring harnesses, and customizing components.
PSI offers many incentives for all students attending the campus, such as financial aid (grants, scholarships, student loans, and Veterans' educational benefits), as well as work study programs so students can work on campus while attending the school to earn a few extra bucks, and living accommodations both on-site and off-site. On-site housing is limited and fills up rather quickly but off-site housing is available through PSI and features a kitchen, living room, and dining area. Most off-site housing apartments are two bedrooms and utilities are included in the rent.
As for job placement upon completion of the program, students participate in a job seeking skills seminar, which covers resume writing, communicating with potential employers, interviewing, and after-interview follow-ups. PSI also hosts in-house job fairs, where current students can meet and make contact with participating companies for employment once they graduate. There are many factors involved with job placement for students, but placement success rates fluctuate between 70 to 82 percent.
Tuition for PSI students covers the spectrum of necessary program expenses, including tuition, books, parking, uniforms, and more, and when a student completes the program he or she receives a Matco meter and $350 tool voucher.
(800) 322- 7000
Penn Foster Career School
Approximated Education Costs: $598-$698
Penn Foster is a bit different from the previously mentioned institutions in that it provides students with a distance learning approach to tackling the basic skills of motorcycle repair. Penn Foster is located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and focuses on at-home education and training and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools, the Distance Education and Training Council, and is also a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
For students looking to complete an at-home motorcycle repair training experience, Penn Foster Career School's Motorcycle Repair Technician training program will assist in teaching students how to work on a variety of motorcycles. The program covers two-stroke and four-stroke engines and also theory on all major motorcycle components: lubrication/cooling, transmissions, electrical systems, frames, steering, and brakes/wheels. This program also covers maintenance and troubleshooting. Upon completion, students should be able to perform inspections, maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs, work with engines, ignition systems, and electrical circuits, inspect and repair frames, steering, and suspensions, and work with brakes, wheel assemblies, and tires.
The duration of the program lasts as long as the student wants it to last and is completely self-paced but coursework must be completed within a two-year period. Internet access is a must for this program. Basically, the student enrolls in the program, gets his or her acceptance, and is then enrolled as a Penn Foster student once monies have been paid. Students will then be able to access initial study materials online by logging in through the Penn Foster Career School website. Students will then be able to download their first study materials and are encouraged to begin lessons as soon as possible. Additional learning materials will be shipped directly to the student and self-paced lessons cover major makes from Harley-Davidson to Suzuki, plus ATVs and snowmobiles. Penn Foster claims that course materials explain procedures more thoroughly than ordinary Motorcycle Repair manuals; however, if you have a question about anything in the program, a toll-free instructional support hotline is available. Faculty and instructional advisors are available to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, or by email or snail mail. At the end of each lesson, students take an exam, which can be completed online through the website. As soon as the student passes an exam, he or she can go on to the next lesson. New course material will follow as exams have been completed, and books and learning materials will always be on hand to continue moving forward. Obviously, a motorcycle is not provided for practical application purposes, so students will have to provide their own bike(s) to get the hands-on approach.
Upon completion of the career-training program, students are given access to the Alumni Career Services site, which includes resume preparation, job search, cover letter design, and preparing for an interview, all for helping students successfully land a job. And students will also receive a set of basic professional-quality tools to use as they wish, but students will need to provide tools while taking the course.
The school does not offer financial aid, but does offer 0 percent APR financing with customized payment plans and available savings offers.
Penn Foster Career School