Small engine repair programs are typically offered by technical or community colleges. A certificate can be completed in one year or less, while an associate degree can be earned in two years. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent. Students typically supply their own tools and safety equipment.
Small Engine Repair Certificate
Students of small engine repair certificate programs will have the opportunity to learn how to diagnose problems and perform repairs or preventive maintenance on small engines, such as those for lawn mowers and other gardening equipment. A typical program focuses on the repair and maintenance of the 2- and 4-stroke engines found in push or riding lawn mowers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers, or other gas powered lawn and garden equipment.
Much as in an automotive repair program, students studying small engine repair focus on an engine's electrical, cooling, and exhaust systems in order to fix equipment malfunctions. Patience, manual dexterity, and an interest in general mechanics are needed to be successful in small engine repair. Coursework for a certificate program is basic, and many colleges allow students to apply their courses towards an associate degree, if they chose to continue their studies. Programs also have laboratory facilities, so students can gain hands-on experience in the following courses:
- 2-stroke engine cycle
- 4-stroke engine cycle
- Small engine repair
- Lawn and garden equipment repair
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Associate of Applied Science in Small Engine Repair
The extra program requirements for an associate degree allow students to work on larger lawn and garden equipment or branch out into small engine recreational vehicles. Some programs include studies in marine or powered sports equipment such as jet skis, snow mobiles, or ATVs (all-terrain vehicles). Others focus solely on the equipment used by landscape companies and golf courses such as wide-deck mowers and aerators.
Depending on the program, additional coursework may cover the particulars of equipment components and operating parameters, such as the drive systems for zero-turn radius mower blades or the water pump in a boat's outboard motor. Elective courses in cost analysis or management principles may also be offered for those who are interested in supervisory positions at a repair shop or dealership. In addition to coursework, some programs offer students the opportunity to complete internships with potential employers at golf courses, landscape companies, or outdoor sports equipment dealerships. Typical coursework includes the following:
- Preventative maintenance
- Electrical systems
- Transmission repair
- Diagnostic technology
- Fuel systems
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a certificate program can find jobs repairing and servicing lawn and garden equipment at repair shops, dealerships or golf courses. Some graduates also find jobs in sales. Potential job titles include service technician, small engine mechanic, and sales representative.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics earned a median annual wage of $32,710 in May of 2015 (www.bls.gov). Job growth for outdoor equipment mechanics was projected to be 5% from 2014-2024. Although this is slower than average, the BLS predicts better job opportunities for those who have completed a training program. States with inclement winter weather, such as Vermont and Maine, had the highest concentration of workers, since the repair of snow equipment allows mechanics to work year-round when lawn mower equipment service lags.
Students looking to enter the field of lawn mower repair can enroll in 1-year certificate and 2-year associate degree programs. Graduates gain the education and hands-on experience needed to become small engine mechanics.