Marine Mechanic Jobs, Career Options and Salary Information

Working as a marine mechanic requires little to no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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If you are handy, and like working on ships, a career as a marine mechanic may be for you. Marine mechanics work for boat dealers, independent repair shops, marinas, boatyards, docks and yacht centers. They can specialize in particular size or type of boats as well as the type of system serviced.

Essential Information

Marine mechanics repair and maintain electrical and mechanical systems onboard watercraft. They work with their hands and must be familiar with systems on a variety of boats, ranging from small personal watercraft to large commercial vessels. The majority of marine mechanics enter the field with no more than a high school education and some knowledge of boat operation; they learn on the job under the supervision of more experienced mechanics and service technicians.

Required Education High school diploma or GED; formal training programs in small engine repair are available and may be preferred by employers
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Certification Voluntary certification in small engine mechanics is available through the Equipment & Engine Training Council
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% for small engine mechanics*
Median Salary (2015) $38,280 for motorboat mechanics and service technicians*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Marine Mechanic Job Duties

An individual seeking a job as a marine mechanic must possess the skills to service and repair 2- and 4-stroke engines. Further job duties include troubleshooting, repairing, installing and maintaining steering and propulsion systems, inboard and outboard motors, diesel engines, fuel systems and marine plumbing. These skills may be learned through work experience or certification and associate's degree programs in marine mechanics, which may be preferred by employers, but not required.

Since many employers of marine mechanics accommodate a wide variety of watercraft, there are several different specialties in which an employee may concentrate. These specialties include working on marine fleets, deconstructing and rebuilding engines, assembling and installing aftermarket parts, repairing electrical system failures and performing general maintenance to keep watercraft in working order. Despite these specific areas of focus in the field, all marine mechanics should also be able to troubleshoot any electrical or mechanical failure that happens on a boat and be able to diagnose and repair the issue with little or no guidance.

Career Options

Marine mechanics can find employment at several types of establishments, including boat dealers, independent repair shops, marinas, boatyards, docks and yacht centers. Some work independently, as self-employed mechanics or consultants. These jobs are most often found in cities with frequent watercraft traffic from large rivers, lakes, harbors, sounds and oceans.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that in May 2015, there were about 20,440 positions in the country held by motorboat mechanics and service technicians (www.bls.gov). From 2014 to 2024, the BLS also reported that job opportunities for small engine mechanics were expected to grow 4%.

Salary Information

Earnings for marine mechanics can vary greatly depending upon experience, breadth of knowledge and size of employer. Those who have several years of experience repairing many different types of engines on several kinds of boats typically earn higher wages. Supervisory positions overseeing less-experienced mechanics also yield higher salaries. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for motorboat mechanics and service technicians was $38,280 in 2015, with the top-paid ten percent of those in this occupation earning more than $58,730.

Marine mechanics generally do not require special training, but are required to have specific mechanical aptitude and knowledge. Associate's degree and certification programs are available, and may be preferred by employers. Earnings vary based on skill level, experience and the type of employer.

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