Career Info for a Degree in Marine Watercraft Repair & Maintenance

A degree or certification in marine watercraft repair and maintenance teaches students how to maintain and repair boat equipment and engines. Continue reading for an overview of the training and certifications as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Motorboat mechanics, marine engineers and members of the Coast Guard are all professionals that benefit from having a degree in marine watercraft repair and maintenance. Certification or a degree may increase job prospects for those interested in these jobs, and licensure is required in some cases.

Essential Information

Working with boats can be a lot of fun. In fact, boats in general can be a lot of fun. And since boat repair is not exactly an innate skill for most people, job prospects are good for people who want to turn their boating passion into a career. To that end, a degree or certification in marine watercraft repair and maintenance might help you land a great job as a motorboat mechanic, marine engineer or perhaps even a Coast Guard officer.

Career Motorboat Mechanic Marine Engineer Coast Guard
Required Education High school diploma or equivalent, though, as marine engines become more advanced, many in this profession are pursuing postsecondary education Bachelor's from a Coast Guard accredited academy High school diploma or equivalent; more advanced degrees required for more technical positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (for all motorboat mechanics and service technicians) 9% (for all marine engineers and naval architects) The BLS reports a favorable job outlook, but specific numbers are unknown for such a broad category
Median Salary* $38,280 for all motorboat mechanics and service technicians (2015)* $93,110 for all marine engineers and naval architects (2015)* Coast Guards receive housing and food allowances and base pay matching their rank and years of service; the base pay for the lowest rank and years of service is $1566.90 per month (2016)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **U.S. Coast Guard

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Career Options

A degree or certification in marine watercraft repair and maintenance teaches students the basic principles of ship design or craftsmanship and lets them use this knowledge in the repair of marine watercraft. This degree prepares students to do anything from repairing their own boats and jet skis to opening repair shops or joining the merchant marine. Students study physics, thermodynamics and materials to learn what kinds of damage watercraft are susceptible to and how such damage might be repaired. A degree or certificate in marine watercraft repair and maintenance can open the door to a wide variety of boat-related occupations, including motorboat mechanic, marine ship engineer or Coast Guard officer.

Motorboat Mechanic

Motorboat mechanics work with both inboard and outboard engines for small boats. Since most outboard motors are small engines, they can be taken out of boats and worked on in a workshop. Motorboat mechanics repair and perform preventative maintenance on these motors and refit them into the boats, linking up steering and cooling systems appropriately. Motorboat mechanics have traditionally learned their skills on the job. However, as engines become more sophisticated, more workers are pursuing postsecondary education to enter this profession. Job prospects should remain stable for this occupation, from 2014 to 2024 with 3% expected job growth for all motorboat mechanics and service technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov. The BLS also reports the median annual salary for this occupation as $38,280 as of May 2015.

Marine Engineer

Marine engineers work on inboard engines for larger watercraft and commercial boats. Licensed members of the merchant marine, they repair and maintain engines that must remain in place during voyages, although larger craft can be put in dry dock and engines may be removed for more extensive work at other times. Marine engineers also work on other engineering systems on larger boats and ships, including steering, navigation, waste disposal, power and other commercial systems. Ship engineering officer hopefuls must either accumulate sufficient experience or graduate from a Coast Guard-accredited academy to obtain licensure. Once licensed, job opportunities are predicted to be good, with 9% predicted growth from 2014 to 2024 for all marine engineers and naval architects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that median annual salary for this occupation as of May 2015 was $93,110.

Coast Guard

Individuals who hold a degree in marine watercraft repair and maintenance are well prepared for a career in the Coast Guard. In fact, many licensed ship engineers are already reserve members of the service. The Coast Guard is always looking for new recruits to work on ship design, repair and maintenance. As in other armed service branches, the opportunities for members of the Coast Guard will continue to be favorable, from 2014 to 2024 (BLS) but the hours and tasks can be extremely challenging. In addition to food and housing allowances, in 2016 entry-level coast guards received $1566.90 per month in salary, per the U.S. Coast Guard and BLS.

As a motorboat mechanic, marine engineer or member of the Coast Guard, a degree in marine watercraft repair and maintenance can increase job opportunities. Motorboat mechanics work on small crafts, while marine engineers work on larger vessels, and members of the Coast Guard perform ship repair, maintenance or design. Median salaries in this field ranged from approximately $18,000 to $93,000 from 2015 to 2016.

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