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Jobs in the downhill/mountain bike world.

Iridemtb

Turbo Monkey
Feb 2, 2007
1,508
0
So I am in 12th grade. I am about to graduate and am picking out courses for college.

I can stay as a liberal studies major for 2 years (I plan to go for 4, but liberal studies is mainly to get the classes one needs anyways out of the way or to just get your bachelors degree).

I know I want to do something with a riding company. I am pretty sure of that. I want to be able to wake up every morning and even though it may be paper work, I would be able to walk into work happy knowing what company I am working for. I am pretty sure, unless I worked for a big company like specialized, I wouldn't make much money, and maybe I still wouldn't even then, but that is not what I am after.

My question is, what jobs do you guys have with the riding industry, what do you do, and how do you like them? Preferably companies not specifically geared towards road biking or cross country.

Sorry if it is a bit personal, but this is a small attempt at moving a step closer to figuring out what I want to do for a job or what to major in.

Thanks guys.
 

boogenman

Turbo Monkey
Nov 3, 2004
3,422
119
BUFFALO
International business and minor in chinese or another language in that area of the world.

Get a part time job at a shop while in college and talk with reps as much as possible to see if you can get an internship or at least a foot in the door with a few companies. Also try to learn as much as possible while working at the shop, don't just be the grom that acts like a stoner all day changing tires. Get in there, sell bikes, learn the process of ordering bikes and other goods, learn about terms, and all the other good stuff.
 

davet

Monkey
Jun 24, 2004
552
3
Get a real job outside of the bike industry so you can actually make a living, and ride your bike for fun.
 

jonKranked

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Nov 10, 2005
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Get a real job outside of the bike industry so you can actually make a living, and ride your bike for fun.
If everyone who wanted to work in the bike industry took that advice, who would be making and selling bikes?

No, it won't pay great compared to a lot of other professions. Then again, not everyone is motivated by money.
 

slyfink

Turbo Monkey
Sep 16, 2008
5,998
1,729
Ottawa, Canada
I'm not in the industry, but this is how I see it:

there's the marketing folk (which you can study in college or Uni)

there's the riders

there's the engineers and inventors

there's the folk who spent years working in shops, getting to know the industry and the key players.

If you're looking to study your way into the industry I'd suggest either marketing or engineering and get yourself a job on the side wrenching at a quality bike shop...

Others with actual experience may want to chime in, caus' my 2c aren't worth much (they're Canadian :disgust1:)
 

Jason4

Monkey
Aug 27, 2008
338
0
Bellingham
I am not in the mtn bike industry but I do have a technical BS degree and the best advice that I can give you is to take a couple of courses outside of your major on the opposite side of the spectrum. If you want to pursue the engineering side get an ME degree from a good school but take a few business courses, management courses, and maybe a marketing course. If you want to pursue the business side of it take a couple of technical courses, chemistry, metallurgy, physics, something to help you communicate with the engineers. Sometimes I wish I had finished the industrial design major at my school and it would be something to look into if you're artistic.

If you work at a small company you are going to need take on multiple roles. No matter what you do, ride your bike a lot and go to lots of events. You'll make good connections and have a network of people to help when it's time to look for a job.
 

Brian HCM#1

MMMMMMMMM BEER!!!!!!!!!!
Sep 7, 2001
31,369
25
Bay Area, California
If everyone who wanted to work in the bike industry took that advice, who would be making and selling bikes?

No, it won't pay great compared to a lot of other professions. Then again, not everyone is motivated by money.
Rethink this question when you're between the age of 35-40. Your view will be quite different. When you have a wife, kids, mortgage it's a whole different ballgame. Money is motivating factor.he mo
 

jonKranked

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Nov 10, 2005
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Rethink this question when you're between the age of 35-40. Your view will be quite different. When you have a wife, kids, mortgage it's a whole different ballgame. Money is motivating factor.he mo
This is also based on the assumption that a person wants to get married and have kids.

I was simply trying to point out that everyone needs to find their own path.
 

urbaindk

The Real Dr. Science
Jul 12, 2004
4,831
0
Sleepy Hollar
My vote is for major in Mechanical Engineering, minor in international business, and look into Asian languages for electives.

Good luck.
 

Stray_cat

Monkey
Nov 13, 2007
460
0
Providence
It sounds like you wanna be more on the people side than, the tech/production side. Personally I'm on the later. I think I saw a few people mention getting a bike mech job, which I would agree with. I would also heavily reccomend becoming active in your local bike community. Take a look at marketing classes. The people component of bike companies tend to be people who try to build excitment about a brand. Is that what you want to be doing? What are your strenghts? There are a ton of people who would be excited about working in the bike biz, but you need to know how your skillset fits in. I would also not limit yourself to just DH compaines, there's still plenty of fun to be had in the other discplines.
 

Brian HCM#1

MMMMMMMMM BEER!!!!!!!!!!
Sep 7, 2001
31,369
25
Bay Area, California
This is also based on the assumption that a person wants to get married and have kids.

I was simply trying to point out that everyone needs to find their own path.
That is true, but most of the time as you get older your priorities change. Believe me, I had a whole different perspective when I was your age.
 

dexter

Turbo Monkey
Sep 23, 2001
2,947
31
Boise, Idaho
Get a real job outside of the bike industry so you can actually make a living, and ride your bike for fun.
fact. same deal with trying to make racing your 1 and only job. This industry is too small and (sadly) has very little money in it. Learned this along time ago, wish I could use my college degree to work in the industry, but it is not going to happen.
 

jonKranked

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Nov 10, 2005
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That is true, but most of the time as you get older your priorities change. Believe me, I had a whole different perspective when I was your age.
Yea? And how old do you think I am? :biggrin:


Seriously tho, that is the truth. Gaining those kinds of responsibilities really shifts your perspective. And I know that there are a lot of people who don't have the foresight to prepare for these kinds of events, and are caught with their pants down so to speak, and are largely unprepared for these life changing events.
 

Transcend

My Nuts Are Flat
Apr 18, 2002
18,045
0
Towing the party line.
Get a real job outside of the bike industry so you can actually make a living, and ride your bike for fun.
Lots of people make good livings in the bike industry and ride their bikes.

I do. You just have to work your ass off to make it happen. If you want to be loaded though, find another industry!
 

slowitdown

Monkey
Mar 30, 2009
554
0
If everyone who wanted to work in the bike industry took that advice, who would be making and selling bikes?
I didn't see anyone recommending that all people in the bike "industry" quit their jobs. So what are you talking about here? He's being realistic. It's hard to make a living in the bike "industry." Hell, it's not even fair to call it an "industry" unless you're talking about Pacific Cycles. "Industry" is like GM or Ford, not little custom frame builders.

No, it won't pay great compared to a lot of other professions. Then again, not everyone is motivated by money.
Being "motivated by money" is different from actually needing it to survive. I suppose you live somewhere that rent is free, and food is free, and all other life necessities are free?

It makes sense to tell a 12th grader the reality of trying to work in the bicycle world. I wish people had told me how difficult life really is when I was in 12th grade. Instead I got a bunch of nonsense about "careers" being their own security, etc.

If someone really wants to have a job in the bike world, he/she should be prepared to suffer financially to make it work -- and in some cases that may mean starving, or being homeless for a time. That's reality.

For every person like the Transcend guy above, there are plenty who couldn't make it work.
 

spornographer

Monkey
Feb 19, 2009
246
0
If someone really wants to have a job in the bike world, he/she should be prepared to suffer financially to make it work -- and in some cases that may mean starving, or being homeless for a time. That's reality.
If someone really wants to have a job in the real world, he/she should be prepared to suffer emotionally/psychologically to make it work -- and in some cases, that may mean wondering why that big house/nice car doesn't make you happy or even realizing at age 43 that you've wasted your life and wish you could go back to age 20 and work in the bike industry. That's reality.

just like anything in life, all you have to do is want it...nothing more, nothing less.
 

Spahman

Monkey
Dec 13, 2006
502
0
Arlington
You're a slave to the money and then you die...

heh if you love riding your bike and want to work in the industry... I say go for it!
Do what makes you happy
 

boogenman

Turbo Monkey
Nov 3, 2004
3,422
119
BUFFALO
It makes sense to tell a 12th grader the reality of trying to work in the bicycle world. I wish people had told me how difficult life really is when I was in 12th grade. Instead I got a bunch of nonsense about "careers" being their own security, etc.
I'm with you 100% I busted my balls through college working at a shop making peanuts thinking I was going to make it big in the bike biz when I finished college. Boy was I wrong! I was offered a not so entry level Sales position with a meduim size bike company that I had to turn down because the salary would not cover my basic expenses needed to survive.

If you have a sugar mama or you are cool with never owning a home, always driving a $500 car and having no chance to ever save $$ for retirement go for it.
 

JRogers

talks too much
Mar 19, 2002
3,791
1
Claremont, CA
I didn't see anyone recommending that all people in the bike "industry" quit their jobs. So what are you talking about here? He's being realistic. It's hard to make a living in the bike "industry." Hell, it's not even fair to call it an "industry" unless you're talking about Pacific Cycles. "Industry" is like GM or Ford, not little custom frame builders.



Being "motivated by money" is different from actually needing it to survive. I suppose you live somewhere that rent is free, and food is free, and all other life necessities are free?

It makes sense to tell a 12th grader the reality of trying to work in the bicycle world. I wish people had told me how difficult life really is when I was in 12th grade. Instead I got a bunch of nonsense about "careers" being their own security, etc.

If someone really wants to have a job in the bike world, he/she should be prepared to suffer financially to make it work -- and in some cases that may mean starving, or being homeless for a time. That's reality.

For every person like the Transcend guy above, there are plenty who couldn't make it work.
Well said (though perhaps most people would do something for themselves before becoming homeless...). It can be hard enough getting a job; restricting yourself to one industry with few jobs and little money is really a tough thing to do and probably ultimately unrealistic. Not that that's a bad thing (I'm probably going into a field for which the prospects of gainful employment are not so good), but you shouldn't get too set on one thing that is really a fairly remote possibility.
 

ohio

The Fresno Kid
Nov 26, 2001
6,640
4
SF, CA
My perspective is that the downside isn't just the lack of money, it's the frustrating idiocy with which (almost) everyone around you runs their businesses. So many garage operations and folks that are in it for the lifestyle, that often:
- you're working with people who have no idea how to properly create a product or serve their customers
- you're competing with people who price their product below profitability, either because they're stupid or they're in it for the love/fun.
- you can't get the supply/product you need because your quantities are too small or the people you're ordering from fall into the above buckets.

I can deal with not making much money, but if the expectation is thatr you're trading money for fun or job satisfaction, don't kid yourself. It is really really tough to find a satisfying job. Those that have them have created them themselves, and are satisfied working really really really (really) hard.

That said, the most fun place to be is probably as a sales rep. That keeps you out of the most frustrating trenches, requires the least specialized skills, connects you with the most people, and gives you the most flexibility in terms of moving from company to company as they rise and fall. It also provides a reasonable career path to move into a company and become a marketing manager or product manager eventually.
 

Stray_cat

Monkey
Nov 13, 2007
460
0
Providence
It's true there's some harsh realities to the bike industry. I won't go into detail but I've been through some awful things to make it work. I can't say I regret it. Sure I know alot of people I went to school make double than me. Right now I'm happy where I am.

A few of my friends are social workers, or musicans...money isn't too hot there either, but I'd never tell them to quite. It was a choice they made for a certain life they wanted. A hard thing to know in 12th grade, but you've got time.
 

jonKranked

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Nov 10, 2005
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I didn't see anyone recommending that all people in the bike "industry" quit their jobs. So what are you talking about here? He's being realistic. It's hard to make a living in the bike "industry." Hell, it's not even fair to call it an "industry" unless you're talking about Pacific Cycles. "Industry" is like GM or Ford, not little custom frame builders.
Nope, nowhere does I or anyone else recommend that industry people quit their jobs. But if everyone who expresses an interest and getting into the bike industry for a living receives nothing but discouraging advice and recommendations to work in another industry, where are we going to be when all the current industry folk retire or move on? Who will be there to step in?

I don't fault anyone for giving realistic advice, but to outright tell someone to look elsewhere isn't exactly what I would consider realistic advice.


Being "motivated by money" is different from actually needing it to survive. I suppose you live somewhere that rent is free, and food is free, and all other life necessities are free?

It makes sense to tell a 12th grader the reality of trying to work in the bicycle world. I wish people had told me how difficult life really is when I was in 12th grade. Instead I got a bunch of nonsense about "careers" being their own security, etc.

If someone really wants to have a job in the bike world, he/she should be prepared to suffer financially to make it work -- and in some cases that may mean starving, or being homeless for a time. That's reality.

For every person like the Transcend guy above, there are plenty who couldn't make it work.
Yes, being motivated by money is much different than needing it to survive. I'm no hippy, I pay my rent and all my other necessities, including my college loans, and still have enough leftover to pursue my interests. I make good money for someone my age. But money isn't what motivates me. To me, it's just another necessary tool to function in our society and culture. That's it.

Philosophical discussions about money aside, that's not to say you can't make enough money to survive in the bike industry, its just a lot harder to do than working in other professions. My original comment was directed towards the "get a job outside the bike industry so you can actually make a living comment". Personally, I think that statement is misleading. Yes, you can make a living in the bike industry, BUT it will be much more challenging to do so than in other professions. You won't be able to maintain as high of a standard of living as you would elsewhere either. For some people, this tradeoff is acceptable; to live (very) lean in order to work a job you are extremely passionate about. For some people, its not. Like I said earlier, you have to find your own path.
 

RD

Monkey
Jul 31, 2003
689
0
Boston, MA
very well put.

My perspective is that the downside isn't just the lack of money, it's the frustrating idiocy with which (almost) everyone around you runs their businesses. So many garage operations and folks that are in it for the lifestyle, that often:
- you're working with people who have no idea how to properly create a product or serve their customers
- you're competing with people who price their product below profitability, either because they're stupid or they're in it for the love/fun.
- you can't get the supply/product you need because your quantities are too small or the people you're ordering from fall into the above buckets.

I can deal with not making much money, but if the expectation is thatr you're trading money for fun or job satisfaction, don't kid yourself. It is really really tough to find a satisfying job. Those that have them have created them themselves, and are satisfied working really really really (really) hard.

That said, the most fun place to be is probably as a sales rep. That keeps you out of the most frustrating trenches, requires the least specialized skills, connects you with the most people, and gives you the most flexibility in terms of moving from company to company as they rise and fall. It also provides a reasonable career path to move into a company and become a marketing manager or product manager eventually.
 

jonKranked

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Nov 10, 2005
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My perspective is that the downside isn't just the lack of money, it's the frustrating idiocy with which (almost) everyone around you runs their businesses.
I have yet to work a job where I don't deal with idiots, but some jobs there were just more of them than others.
 

Ithnu

Monkey
Jul 16, 2007
965
0
Denver
I always have to pipe in on these. I'm in aerospace (MS in ME) and one of my best friends is a EE at Hayes Brakes. He gets free brakes and he tried to get me a Dorado to try out last year. He designed the testing equipment for it. He also put in a great word and my grass roots team has a Hayes sponsor. <-- Stroker Aces ROCK!

He lives in WI where Hayes is based though. I'd rather pay for my brakes and live in CO where there are mountains to warrant having Stroker Aces.

Granted not all companies are based in WI. Yeti is here in CO and I know some guys who work / ride for Yeti. Yeti has 2 engineers, kinda hard to get in with a company like that.

You can get a job in the industry. However its still a job, and doing anything for 40-50 hours a week can get old. I prefer to keep my hobbies separate from my work. But everyone is different.

Figure out what you want to go to college for, get a part time job at a bike shop and see where it goes from there:thumb:
 

Alloy

Monkey
Aug 13, 2004
289
0
thousand oaks, ca
You can get a job in the industry. However its still a job, and doing anything for 40-50 hours a week can get old. I prefer to keep my hobbies separate from my work. But everyone is different.
Yes! I guess you have to work a few different jobs to really understand this. But doing anything for 8 hours per day everyday sucks. Of-course with the exceptions of riding your bike.

So your real question should be how do I get a job in the industry that involves riding my bike?

Which is pretty easy with few specific skills....

The number one skill to getting a job in the industry is racing pro (really not that hard if you're young, patient, and have a discipline training schedule) Do this and you'll have many contacts by the time you're pro... continue as a pro, you'll meet even more people and when you come asking for a job they'll know who you are.

Add some writing skills, marketing skills, or engineering skills, and you now have a very rare combination of talent that will easily get you job in the industry. ...and again because you've proven to be one of the few who knows how to ride a bike, you'll most likely be helping with testing and product development on the side.
 

roamingoregon

Monkey
Apr 10, 2004
250
0
Wilsonville
My entry to the cycling industry was through racing. Over the years I've climbed some ladders. I've tried to leave it a few times and realized people outside of the bike industry are just as frustrating as some of the bike industry folk.

If you find the right company and do great work you can make a living.

I'm married with 3 kids, wife works part time. I've traveled to Asia, been all over the US, and go to Canada every year. I'm not loaded by any means but I don't wear a suit, work with people with similar interests, and pay my bills.

Pretty hard to ask for more than that.
 

talusslope

Chimp
Apr 6, 2007
67
0
sst, WA
Well, I'm only in 11th grade, but my area's got a vocational skill center. And they got a welding program that is connected with the local apprenticeship school. Lots of bikes get welded, but so do boats, cars, farming equipment, buildings, etc.

Not to mention all the baby boomers retiring, leaving lots of openings while the high schools tell everybody else to go to collage.

As far as the economy, it seems no suit can get hired to work if there ain't no skyscrapers to work in, or spend any money on food if there ain't no farm equipment to cultivate it.
 

MMike

A fowl peckerwood.
Sep 5, 2001
18,222
85
just sittin' here drinkin' scotch
I wouldn't say that I've ever "worked in the bizz". But during my 10 month Al Qaeda induced unemployment, I spent most of my free time helping a guy who fancied himself quite the ambassador to the sport of downhilling. He had (has) a company related to that world.

Coming from the aircraft industry, I was always shocked at how....consequence-free that world was. Missed deadlines meant nothing. Lots of "Aw dude! I totally spaced on that!".... things like that did not go unpunished in "my world".

It just blew my mind what was considered acceptable.

I guess I'm just not "Irie" enough to be in the bike industry....

edit....I think I could work with Weagle. He's had a real job. ...but he'd have to pay me a lot. And I'd need a really large office. And a bar in my office. And the office would need a montain view. And I'd insist on a company car.....and my own helicopter.
 
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w00dy

In heaven there is no beer
Jun 18, 2004
3,412
28
that's why we drink it here
Go to school for what you're good at. Some subjects just come naturally to certain people. Myself, I come from a family of engineers, so I went with that and eventually found engineering positions related to bikes. There are all types of jobs to do associated with bikes. You can be an accountant for a bike company. Don't worry about what would work best with the industry. Do what you're good at, and if you have the interest you'll find a way to use what you've learned.

It's also not the end of the world to take a couple years before you go to college. A little while in the job market will help tons with deciding a field of study. I was fortunate in that I came close to studying my ideal choice. Now that I've been out of school a while I'm starting to realize things I missed.

Side note, related experience will get you a lot of credit. Everybody works at a shop at some point.
 

w00dy

In heaven there is no beer
Jun 18, 2004
3,412
28
that's why we drink it here
Well, I'm only in 11th grade, but my area's got a vocational skill center. And they got a welding program that is connected with the local apprenticeship school. Lots of bikes get welded, but so do boats, cars, farming equipment, buildings, etc.

Not to mention all the baby boomers retiring, leaving lots of openings while the high schools tell everybody else to go to collage.

As far as the economy, it seems no suit can get hired to work if there ain't no skyscrapers to work in, or spend any money on food if there ain't no farm equipment to cultivate it.
Picking up a trade is also not a bad option. If you want fresh air and freedom this isn't the worst option.