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Motorboat mechanics, also known as marine mechanics, are responsible for repairing and adjusting the electrical and mechanical equipment of both inboard and outboard boats. They usually work in close proximity to the water where boats in need of maintenance and repair can quickly be brought in and then easily transported back out to the water once the repairs have been made. While most small engine repairs are done close to the water, larger boats in need of maintenance or upgrade may need to be taken further inland for more significant work or overhauls.

Marine mechanics can gain the skills needed to work on a variety of boats through on-the-job training or by going to school and completing a postsecondary educational program. Students can learn about the various dynamics of inboard and outboard motors as well as how to repair other aspects of a watercraft, such as boat equipment, steering systems and propellers.

Responsibilities of Marine Mechanics

Because the technology on motorboats is becoming ever more complex, individuals need to know how to work with both newer and older boats. In general, they should be able to:

  • Use a variety of techniques to determine the source of a problem and the extent of needed repairs
  • Diagnose mechanical and electrical problems and make repairs to bring the motorboat back to operation
  • Use computerized diagnostic testing equipment
  • Make needed repairs or replace unfixable parts
  • Refer to service manuals from the manufacturer for instructions and specifications
  • Do periodic maintenance checks on electrical systems, fuel injection systems, spark plugs, and other parts

Marine Mechanic Job Characteristics

While marine mechanics often work in a noisy shop that is located near or next to the water, they also need to be able to work well independently. They may work full 40-hour weeks or have less job demand depending on the time of year. Here are some things to expect on the job:

  • They may be busiest during the summer months and directly preceding and following this time
  • They may need to put in more than 40 hours a week, including evenings and weekends during the warm season
  • In warmer locations or at places closer to the equator, they could be busier year-round
  • They need to be able to operate boats and watercraft to ensure completion of repairs

The following skills could be beneficial to marine mechanics mechanics and motorboat repair workers:

  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work in confined spaces
  • Aptitude for following instructions and diagrams in manufacturers manuals
  • Interest in learning new technologies to meet changing boat engine manufacturer guidelines
  • Time management skills to insure repairs are completed according to estimates

Marine Mechanic Salary and Career Info

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following information about motorboat mechanics and service technicians nationwide:

  • Total Employed: 20,210 in 2014
  • Job Growth: 5% growth, from 2012 to 2022
  • Average Salary: $38,600, in 2014

Marine mechanics can work on other types of small engines during the cold months to keep up their income. This includes fixing and repairing snowmobiles, snowblowers and all-terrain vehicles. Individuals working in Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington and Massachusetts had the highest mean annual wages, all above $44,000, in 2014.

Education, Certification and Licensing

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically needed to enter the motorboat mechanics field, although there are programs available at mechanics and vocational schools to help individuals gain career skills. In these programs, students should learn how to:

  • Maintain and repair outboard and inboard engines, propellers, and steering systems
  • Adjust sails, hulls, and other parts
  • Fix the electronic components that control the boat engines' performance and instrument displays
  • Winterize boats and other watercraft

Certification is not necessary to become a motorboat mechanic, although it can demonstrate knowledge in the field and result in more pay, according to the BLS. Motorboat mechanics seeking certification can do so through an organization like the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), which offers certifications in diesel engines and support systems, marine systems, marine corrosion, and other areas.

There are no licensing requirements to become a motorboat or marine mechanic.

Major Employers

  • Boat dealers
  • Boat rental companies
  • Marinas
  • Manufacturers and manufacturer facilities
  • Federal, state and local government agencies

Resources

  • Marine Retailers Association of America
  • American Boating Association
  • American Boat and Yacht Council
  • American Boat Builders and Repairers Association
  • Association of Marine Technicians

Sources:

  1. Certifications and Classes, American Boat and Yacht Council, no date. https://www.abycinc.org/educationprograms/certification_program.pdf
  2. Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493051.htm
  3. 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

Marine Mechanics Skills

Below are the skills needed to be marine mechanics according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Repairing44
Equipment Maintenance3.883.5
Troubleshooting3.753.75
Operation and Control3.623.38
Operation Monitoring3.53.38

Marine Mechanics Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be marine mechanics according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Problem Sensitivity3.883.38
Manual Dexterity3.753
Arm-Hand Steadiness3.753
Deductive Reasoning3.753.25
Inductive Reasoning3.753.5

Marine Mechanics Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be marine mechanics according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Mechanical4.796.26
Customer and Personal Service3.934.42
Computers and Electronics3.53.84
English Language3.493.14
Mathematics3.343.42

Marine Mechanics Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being marine mechanics according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment4.113.76
Handling and Moving Objects4.15.69
Getting Information4.033.38
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment4.014.78
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge3.984.71

Marine Mechanics Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being marine mechanics according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.54
Dependability4.46
Initiative4.1
Independence4.1
Integrity4.04

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Marine Mechanics

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Marine Mechanics jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach1,390 $45,530
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim490 $38,050
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson430 $36,390
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn390 $46,840
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington380 $42,730
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue380 $49,400
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land280 $47,940
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater270 $36,650
Port St. Lucie240 $40,870
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward220 N/A

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to motorboat mechanics

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Marine Mechanics.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.