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Motorboat Mechanic Job Description, Career as a Motorboat Mechanic, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training High school plus training

Salary Median—$14.74 per hour

Employment Outlook Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Motorboat mechanics fix and service many kinds of boats. Most of them specialize in boats with outboard motors, which run on gasoline and can be taken off boats easily. Inboard motors, which are usually found in cabin cruisers and larger fishing boats, are not removed except for major repairs. Inboard motors often run on diesel fuel and are similar to truck motors.

In some shops, mechanics work only on motors, propellers, and other moving parts. They replace ignition points, adjust valves, and clean carburetors. In other shops mechanics have many duties, such as patching and painting hulls.

Most mechanics are employed by boat dealers and marinas. Those who work for manufacturers make final adjustments and repairs as equipment comes off the assembly line. A small number of mechanics work for boat rental companies. Marinas operated by federal, state, and local governments also employ motor-boat mechanics.

Education and Training Requirements

Applicants with high school diplomas or the equivalent are preferred. High school courses in small engine repair, auto mechanics, and machine shop are helpful, as are classes in electricity, science, and math. Many mechanics enter the field by working during the summer as trainees for boat dealers.

Most mechanics learn their trade on the job. Trainees first do odd jobs around the shop, such as cleaning the boats and motors. They also learn routine jobs, such as changing spark plugs and ignition points. Eventually they learn to diagnose engine problems. Beginners need two to three years on the job to become skilled mechanics for gasoline-powered motorboats. Another year or so is needed to become skilled in diesel engine repair.

Some employers send mechanics to one- or two-week training courses sponsored by motorboat manufacturers. The programs usually focus on fixing advanced or specialized equipment. Experienced mechanics continuously upgrade their skills and learn about new kinds of boat motors.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to boat dealers and marinas, which may have openings for trainees. Manufacturers may also be hiring. Newspaper classified ads, Internet job sites, or boating magazines may offer employment leads. State employment services may have information about jobs with government marinas.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced mechanics can advance to supervisory positions, such as service manager. They can also open their own businesses if they can raise the capital.

Employment in this small field is expected to grow more slowly than other occupations through 2014. Openings should occur when experienced mechanics retire or leave the field. Demand may grow as the number of people over age forty increases—they buy the most boats.

A motorboat mechanic fixes an outboard motor for a small boat. He is employed by a boat dealer. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Working Conditions

Most boat mechanics work near large bodies of water. Coastal areas in California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas have many shops that employ one to three mechanics. Few shops have more than ten. They repair and service both inboard and outboard motors. Near smaller bodies of water mechanics usually fix outboard motors. Very small dealers and marinas often send their motors out to be fixed.

This work is not hazardous, but many mechanics get minor cuts and bruises. Shops can be noisy, and mechanics often have to work in cramped spaces.

In the spring and summer, boat mechanics generally work more than forty hours per week, including weekends. In the winter they usually work few hours or fix snowmobiles and other machinery.

Earnings and Benefits

In 2004 the median salary of motorboat mechanics was $14.74 per hour. Experienced mechanics often earn more. Some employers pay mechanics a weekly salary, while others pay a base salary plus an incentive, which is usually a percentage of the cost of labor. Under the incentive method, earnings depend on how much work mechanics are given and how quickly they complete it. Some motorboat mechanics are members of unions.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
9000 Machinists Place
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-2687
(301) 967-4500

National Marine Manufacturers Association
200 E. Randolf Dr., Ste. 5100
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 946-6200

Benefits may include holiday and vacation pay and health and life insurance. Some mechanics receive paid sick leave and are covered under retirement plans.

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