Certificate programs and associate's and bachelor's degree programs in marine technology are readily available at community colleges or technical schools located along coastal areas or near bodies of water. Programs take up to 4 years, which is the duration for a bachelor's degree program. Future boat mechanics learn how to perform a number of tasks, such as repairing broken equipment and foreseeing mechanical issues.
The level of education will depend upon one's career goals, and each program will require different entry standards. Typically, a high school diploma or equivalent is required for all boat mechanics programs. Hands-on experience is required at all levels. Professional certification is voluntary and available through professional organizations.
Certificate in Marine Technology
Boat mechanics, or marine equipment specialists, work on the mechanical and electrical parts of inboard and outboard boat motors. Students enrolled in the marine technology certificate program do not need to meet specific education requirements, but they should have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Approximately 50% of the classes are instructional, and the other 50% consist of hands-on learning activities.
Prospective mechanics learn about the basics of operating a marine vehicle as well as troubleshooting and repair techniques. The program takes about one year to complete. Graduates can continue their education and obtain an associate's degree or seek out employment.
Students enrolled in the marine technology certificate program learn how to diagnose engine trouble and repair and maintain motorboat engines. Students can narrow down their area of expertise further by specializing in repairs for boat production shops, charter companies, boat dealerships or boat repair yards. Those enrolled in boat mechanic programs should have apt mechanical abilities, communication skills and be able to comprehend service manuals. Some of the courses students may take include:
- Boat safety
- Marina operations
Associate of Science in Marine Engineering Technology
Students seeking higher education can pursue an Associate of Science in Marine Engineering Technology after completing their certificate. However, if they do not have a certificate, they can still enroll in the program as long as they have a high school diploma or its equivalent. This program is designed to prepare students for careers in boat maintenance or repair.
As with the certificate program, much of the marine technology associate's degree curriculum is made up of lectures and hands-on experience. For those leaning toward a career as a boat mechanic, the general courses required to obtain an associate's degree in marine technology include:
- Outboard engine maintenance, troubleshooting and overhauling
- Inboard drive service
- Engine theory
- Marina management
- Fuel systems
Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering Technology
Designed for students seeking education on the mechanical and electrical systems on ships, an undergraduate degree in marine engineering technology takes 120-160 credits to complete. Some schools offer a focus on diving and oceanography with this degree, so students should check if courses include engine mechanics. Those who graduate from the program can solve a multitude of a ship's troubles, notably any engine problems.
Those interested in a bachelor's degree in marine engineering technology can enter the program with a certificate in marine technology or associate's degree in marine engineering technology, but it's not required. If they do, however, most schools allow the already-earned credits to transfer. Students do need a high school diploma or equivalent if they wish to enter the bachelor's degree program without any previous college coursework under their belts.
Students must take a variety of courses in the sciences, notably chemistry and physics, in addition to their general education requirements. Other courses that students enrolled in the B.S. in Marine Engineering Technology program take include:
- Steam and diesel engineering
- Marine safety training
- Electronic navigation
- Power transmission
Popular Career Options
In addition to becoming boat mechanics, graduates of the associate's degree program can locate jobs designing and manufacturing marine equipment. If students do not wish to work on boats, they can look into Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) approved diving certification programs.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Boat mechanics can find employment at independent repair shops, boatyards and marinas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, boat engine mechanics are a part of the small engine mechanic category, and employment among that group from 2014-2024 was expected to increase 4% (www.bls.gov). This is due in part to more individuals spending their leisure time on the water. The median per-hour rate for boat mechanics as of May 2015 was $18.41, which translates to $38,280 per full-time year (www.bls.gov).
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information
Boat mechanics may apply to the Association of Marine Technicians (AMTECH) to obtain professional certification. Potential members must submit an application along with a one-time application fee and determine what type of membership best suits them. There are five different tiers to choose among, and each one offers a specific interaction level within the association. Members have access to the latest news in the marine service, employment openings for technicians, online bulletin board postings and access to the annual trade show.
A career in boat mechanics can be launched by completing an undergraduate degree or certificate program. Students looking to advance their career may elect to pursue a professional certification offered by AMTECH.