Boat Mechanics: Education Requirements and Career Overview

Sep 14, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a boat mechanic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and job growth expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

Boat mechanics are typically required to complete a certificate program in marine technology. They maintain and repair boat engines, and may also work on other boat systems, such as plumbing.

Essential Information

Boat mechanics are small engine mechanics who maintain and repair outboard and inboard boat engines. A certificate program in marine technology provides ample preparation. In these programs, students learn the fundamentals of boat engine repair through classroom work and hands-on experience, including internships in local shops. Many boat mechanics work only on small outboard engines, and some also repair other systems on boats, such as plumbing.

Required Education Certificate is most common
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for all motorboat mechanics and service technicians
Median Salary (2018)* $40,180 for all motorboat mechanics and service technicians

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Education Requirements for a Boat Mechanic

A certificate program in marine technology is needed to prepare students for careers as entry-level boat mechanics. Generally, these certificate courses can be completed in one year of full-time study. Community colleges located next to a large body of water are most likely to offer this certificate program.

Certificate in Marine Technology

A certificate program in marine technology has no general education courses and focuses solely on the theory, repair and maintenance of boat engine mechanics. Several courses feature in-class demonstrations. Students are required to gain some hands-on experience through practical exercises. Some of the topics to be covered include engine tune-up procedures, engine overhaul, electrical and ignition systems and methods of diagnosis.

Problem-solving ability is key to being an effective boat mechanic, and many courses require students to approach mechanical problems in a methodical and analytical manner. A field experience component may be required in the final semester of enrollment. During this process, students visit and work in a local shop that specializes in small engine and boat mechanics.

Career Overview

Boat mechanics deal with inboard and outboard engines used to power motorboats and larger recreational yachts. Outboard engines are primarily used with smaller boats, while inboard engines are found on larger sea-going vessels. However, many boat mechanics deal only with small outboard engines that are often removed from the boat and brought into a shop or onto a marina. In some cases, a boat mechanic may repair other systems located on a boat, such as the steering system or the plumbing system.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that motorboat mechanics will have a faster than average growth through 2028. Only a small number of shops specialize in boat engine repair. A large number of these have consolidated, but repair services are expected to increase in demand as boat engines grow more complex.

Job prospects may increase in towns and cities that are located next to a major body of water and attract a large number of tourists during the summer. While summers are likely to be busy, winter months may involve fewer boat servicing clients. Boat mechanics may be able to work on other types of small-engine equipment. The mean hourly wage for a motorboat mechanic is $20.35, according to May 2018 statistics from the BLS (

Workers can work on small outboard engines, inboard engines on larger vessels, such as yachts, as well as other systems on a boat. Completing a certificate program is marine technology is typically required, which will give the student hands-on experience in various repair situations.

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