Marine mechanics, also referred to as motorboat mechanics or marine equipment mechanics, are responsible for the repair and maintenance both inboard and outboard boat engines. When working with these engines, they repair and adjust the electrical and mechanical equipment in order to ensure it runs smoothly. Smaller boats usually have outboard engines that are portable, enabling customers to remove them and bring them into the repair shop. Larger boats, such as cruisers and fishing vessels, have inboard, diesel- or gasoline-powered engines. These engines are usually worked on at the marina or dock where the boat is stationed, although they are sometimes removed for major repairs and overhauls. Marine mechanics also repair other boat equipment, such as propellers, steering mechanisms, marine plumbing, and other boat equipment.
Marine mechanics should have a strong mechanical aptitude. They should be in good physical shape and be able to work in tight, enclosed spaces. They need to have the ability to communicate well with customers because they often make on-site calls. They need to have excellent manual dexterity and a high degree of patience and persistence.
In 2002, marine mechanics earned a median hourly wage of $13.97. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $8.89, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $21.20. The industry employing the largest numbers of marine mechanics – motor vehicle dealers – had a median hourly wage of $13.00.
Training and Education
Most employers of marine mechanics prefer to hire candidates who have graduated from some type of formal training program. However, most mechanics learn their skills on the job because the number of formal programs is limited. Trainee jobs are usually filled by individuals who have an interest in mechanics and knowledge of small engines. Trainees learn from more experienced mechanics and gradually progress to more challenging responsibilities. Trainees may spend up to 3 years as an apprentice before they fully develop their skills in all areas of marine engine repair.
Many employers send mechanics to specialized courses in motorboat repair. These courses may last 2 weeks and upgrade the mechanic’s skills based on new models of engines. Most mechanics have a high school diploma because the job requires basic reading, writing, and math skills. Mechanics who show leadership potential may be promoted to shop supervisor or service manager jobs. Click here to see a list of Marine Mechanic Schools and to contact their admissions departments for more information.
In 2002, marine mechanics held about 22,000 jobs.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of marine mechanics is expected to increase about as fast as the average. This will partly due to the high number of workers expected to retire or transfer to other occupations. It will also be partly due to the growing number of people entering the 40-and-older age group. This is the segment of the population that buys the most water vehicles because of their larger amounts of disposable income. This will expand the market for motorboats, resulting in an increase in the demand for marine mechanics. Job opportunities will be best for those who have completed formal training programs.