Becoming a small engine mechanic typically involves postsecondary training in the form of a certificate or associate's degree program. Mechanics must have a high school diploma or GED to enroll in a small engine repair program. With certificates or degrees, small engine mechanics can find jobs with small engine repair shops, dealerships, retail stores and equipment rental companies. Small engine mechanics employed by retail stores may be required to have basic sales and customer service skills. They should be able to explain technical and mechanical issues to customers and provide appropriate maintenance options. Small engine mechanics should also be comfortable using computer programs for billing and inventory purposes.
Small Engine Repair Certificate
A small engine repair certificate program teaches students basic small engine maintenance, installation and troubleshooting skills. Students work on various types of small engines and learn to identify engine components and systems. Certificate programs generally require 1-2 semesters of study and may include courses in the following:
- Small engine electrical systems
- Mechanical systems
- Small engine maintenance and troubleshooting
- Power tool repair
- Tractor, mower and outdoor equipment repair
Students in associate's degree programs learn more advanced repair and maintenance skills. They spend two years working on small engines in tractors, mowers, garage door openers, snowmobiles and similar equipment. Some programs may also include courses on marine engine or motorcycle engine repair. Common courses include the following:
- Small engine performance and tune-up
- Working with gaseous fuels
- Two-cycle and four-cycle engines
- Small engine chassis repair
- Lawn and garden equipment maintenance
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
As of May 2015, automotive service technicians make a median annual wage of $37,850, according to the BLS. Employment for this career is expected to grow 5% from 2014-2024.
Small engine mechanics are not required to be licensed or certified. They demonstrate proficiency through formal training and experience with small engines. Technical and vocational schools that offer small engine repair programs commonly sponsor workshops that may last several hours. These workshops may focus on specific aspects of small engine repair, such as fuel or electrical systems, or address maintenance issues with one type of small engine product, like a lawnmower or outboard engine. Employers may also offer workshops and training seminars for newly hired mechanics and repair technicians to become familiar with the employer's maintenance services.
Professional development opportunities for small engine mechanics are minimal. Many small engine mechanics develop their foundational knowledge of engines and enroll in automotive, marine or motorcycle engine technology programs. These programs allow mechanics to work with more complex engines and vehicles. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) provides a number of career and continuing education resources for automotive mechanics.
Small engine mechanics can gain the education required for their trade through certificate and associate's degree programs. Further education and licensing is not required, but attending relevant workshops and taking advantage of resources provided by the ASE may help develop your skill in the field.