Do you find boats, submarines, and cruise ships fascinating? Are you curious about the systems and operations that keep them running? Do you want to be a part of a field that is practical-intensive and offers immense learning opportunities? Then a career as a marine technician might be for you!
Read on to find out more information on the job demands, education, employment opportunities, salary, and more.
What is a Boat Mechanic/Marine Technician?
A career as a certified marine mechanic will allow you to diagnose and troubleshoot problems with commercial fishing boats, cruises ships, luxury yachts, defense vehicles, and all types of marine vehicles.
Duties of a Marine Technician
Boats and marine equipment may undergo corrosion, damage, or require lubrication during regular operations.Most marine mechanics make mechanical adjustments, replace worn and damaged components, lubricate parts, and help maintain the boat in an up and running condition.
Marine mechanics rely on diagnostic equipment to test and repair boat engines, propellers, masts, hulls, rigging, sails, and navigational equipment. They also possess the knowledge required to install and test sanitation, refrigeration, fuel, and electrical systems.
The full scope of responsibilities may include:
- Plumbing Repair
- Assemble Steering Devices
- Hydraulic Monitoring
- Maintain and Repair Air Conditioning Units
- Familiarity with steering mechanisms, gears, and accessories
In the marine industry, small engine mechanics and professional engineers require strong customer service skills, since they must communicate with non-technical customers. They must explain clearly what problems the vessel is experiencing and suggest possible remedies.
Other daily duties may also include:
- Documenting the tasks you’ve performed.
- Handling billing and repair quotations.
- Managing spare parts inventory.
Work environments will typically vary. For example, some technicians may work on watercraft engines outdoors in unpredictable weather or noisy repair shops. Therefore, aspiring technicians must be able to adjust to different environments.
How to Become a Marine Mechanic?
Let’s look at the steps you need to follow for career as a marine mechanic and technician:
Step 1: Obtain Your High School Diploma/GED
Marine mechanics use the principles of science, engineering, mathematics, and practical skills such as minor engine repair and automobile mechanics to perform their routine tasks. That’s why the first step to land an entry-level position as a marine mechanic is obtaining your high school diploma/GED.
Pursuing your high school education will help you learn the basics of math, science, business, and communication and make you eligible for secondary education courses in marine repair.
Step 2: Enroll in an Apprentice Program
Boat manufacturing companies, labor unions, and community colleges-affiliated associations offer apprenticeship programs that allow you to learn on the job. Becoming an apprentice helps you start working directly with boats and marine equipment and obtain the desired troubleshooting skills.
Some technical schools work in affiliation with marine companies and offer apprenticeships as a part of your formal education program.
Step 3: Complete Post-Secondary/College Education
While obtaining an entry-level position as a marine technician with a high school diploma alone is possible, most experts usually advocate secondary education.
Employers prefer applicants who have received hands-on experience and training from a reputable institution to others. That’s because these individuals require less on-the-job instruction than other potential hires.
Because they cover both theoretical and practical aspects, associates degrees are popular across this field. Most associate degrees in marine technology focus on maintenance and repair, electrical and systems installation, handling computerized equipment, and hydraulics system repair.
During your formal education, you can acquire hands-on skills as well. The practical and laboratory hours in your associate degree will help hone your practical skills and understanding.
Step 4: Get Certifications
In any practical-intensive field, certifications are crucial. Obtaining a certification in specific areas helps you stay updated with the latest developments in your field. Most importantly, certifications are a testimony of your credibility as a professional.
The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) offers over 3,000 different marine mechanics and technicians’ certificates. Nocti Business Solutions, a third-party employment firm, verifies these certifications to ensure relevance and value. The ABYC’s specialty exams cover all significant areas of repair, including:
- Marine Systems
- Marine Electrical
- Marine Composites
- Marine Corrosion
- Gasoline Engines
- Diesel Engines
- ABYC Standards
- A/C Refrigeration
The training for your initial certification typically takes about two days. There are multiple training centers, and you have the freedom to take these classes in a town near you or study through remote options. After every five years, you must take a retest to maintain your American Boat and Yacht Council Technicians certification.
Individuals who receive three certifications or more qualify for the organization’s Master Technician designation, demonstrating “professional dedication and expertise” to potential employers.
It’s also worth noting that mechanics who have maintained their Mercury Marine certification in a product line for four years in a row can also sit for the Master Technician exam.
Step 5: Apply for Jobs
After completing your post-secondary education and apprenticeship, you can apply for motorboat mechanics, service technicians, marine plumbing mechanics, and motorboat maintenance technicians.
Repair shops, dockyards, marinas, and maintenance yards are the usual employers. ABYC also offers a few opportunities for marine mechanics.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Marine Mechanic?
Once you graduate high school, completing a certificate course will require about one year, while an associate’s degree can take up to two years. Apprenticeship programs for marine mechanics can span over four years.
You can complete the associate’s degree in marine technology at New England Institute of Technology in about 18 months to become job-ready for entry-level positions in boatyard operations, boat and shop manufacturing, engine repair, marine electronics installation, and more.
Best Programs for Marine Mechanics
Let’s look at some of the best marine technician schools that offer excellent programs:
New England Institute of Technology, Rhode Island
The New England Institute of Technology offers one of the most comprehensive marine technology programs in the country. The program will help develop hands-on skills in installing, servicing, and repairing mechanical, electrical, electronic, and hydraulic systems used in recreational watercraft and commercial boats and ships.
START YOUR CAREER IN MARINE TECHNOLOGY
Earn your degree in marine tech from NEIT and begin your new career path today!
The Marine Technology Department is the New England training site for Volvo Penta Marine, with advanced training available for qualified students. Students completing the Marine Technology program may also qualify to become certified Volvo Penta Technicians.
Upon graduation, students become members of the American Boating and Yacht Council (ABYC) and can also achieve factory technician certification in repairing Volvo Penta and Yamaha propulsion systems.
After completing an associate’s program, graduates may also b eligible to continue for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management that can help boost their employment prospects.
Skagit Valley College, Washington
Skagit Valley College offers an Associate Degree in Marine Maintenance Technology, where you will learn marine propulsion, vessels, and composite systems.
The coursework at the institute includes a blend of classroom education, practicals, and certification preparation. You can also opt for short-term certificate courses in Marine Mechanical Technician and Marine Electrical Technician.
IYRS School of Technology and Trades, Rhode Island
Students enrolling at IYRS have the option to choose from an accredited 20-month program in Boatbuilding and Restoration, a 6-month program in composites technology, a 9-month program in digital modeling and fabrication, or a 6-month program in marine systems.
These short-term programs can equip you with the skills required for repairing and maintaining marine equipment and vessels.
Tom P. Haney Technical Center, Florida
The Marine Service Technologies program at the Tom P. Haney Technical Center is a full-time, 1350-hour program covering the service, repair, and overhaul of four-stroke and two-stroke marine engines, outboard motors, and boating accessories.
Northwood Technical College, Wisconsin
Northwood Technical College offers a specialized three-semester Marine Repair Technician program that includes exhaustive theory and practical hours. You have to obtain 41 credits to obtain your technical diploma. Subjects include marine engines, marine propulsion systems, diesel engines, welding and metalworking, and safety practices.
Marine Mechanic: Job Outlook
The decent salary, growth opportunities, and employee benefits is what makes a career as a marine mechanic so rewarding. Let’s take a closer at these prospective advantages:
Average Salary of a Marine Mechanic
With desired qualifications, certification, and experience, you can take up higher-paying jobs in the industry. The top 10 percentile of highest-earning professionals in the field made annual mean wages of about $66,320.
As per the latest data, The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts that the employment of motorboat mechanics and technicians will grow by 13 percent, much faster than the national growth rate for all occupations combined, and offer excellent job prospects in the next ten years.
Average Salary by State
Coastal areas typically house more extensive facilities that employ a more significant number of technicians, which is why salaries vary significantly in different states and coastal regions. We’ve provided a summary of the states that offer the highest pay and boast the highest concentration of jobs in the country:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics assigns location quotients to all states. It is the ratio between an area’s distribution of employment by industry, ownership, and size class with the reference area’s distribution.
For example, Rhode Island has the highest location in the United States, indicating that the marine technician industry has a more significant share of local employment than the nationwide trend.
Government agencies, deep-sea, coast, lake water transportation companies, and machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers remain the top-paying industries for marine mechanics.
Job opportunities for marine technicians are highest among the following industries:
- Motor Vehicle Dealers
- Amusement and Recreation Industries
- Ship and Boat Building Units, and
- Support Activities for Water Transportation
Common Career Paths for a Marine Mechanic
After completing your education, you can apply directly to boat manufacturing companies, marinas, boat sales, and service yards. Technicians can also find work inland, near lakes and water-recreation facilities, though these arenas typically provide fewer employment opportunities than their coastal counterparts.
Technicians may work in operations, service, or general management. For example, an entry-level marine mechanic can progress to a Team Leader or Foreman, managing junior technicians.
With adequate experience in any of the domains, you can become a manager or superintendent in the organization.
Many marine mechanics also advance to plant manager, service manager, and general superintendent after more than ten years of work experience.
What are Some Alternative Jobs for a Marine Mechanic?
If you like working on engines and not necessarily boats, you can opt for a career as an automotive service technician or mechanic, where you’ll get to repair and maintain cars and light trucks. Automotive service technicians had a national median salary of $44,050 annually.
Another prospective job option includes diesel service mechanic, which involves working on heavy buses and trucks with diesel engines. The field offers an average annual salary of about $50,200.
These alternative programs also include intensive hands-on training and require similar levels of education and time as a boat mechanic would need.
Top Skills for Boat Mechanic
According to Zippia.com, the top skills for a certified marine mechanic include proficiency in handling hand tools, repairing customer vehicles, performing routine maintenance, engine repair, knowledge of HVAC and electrical systems, managing parts inventory, and pre-delivery inspection.
Best Places to Work as a Marine Mechanic
If you want to begin a rewarding career as a marine technician, you must search for jobs near the coastal regions. These places always require the services of a boat repair technician, which provides plenty of job security. Let’s look at some of the best places you can work as a boat repair mechanic:
Here’s the list of the top 5 metropolitan areas in the United States with the mean annual wages they offered in May 2020:
- San Antonio- New Braunfels, Texas – $63,080
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California- $59,490
- Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland- $58,680
- Barnstable Town, Massachusetts -$58,200
- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona – $57,440
We’ve listed the top 5 metropolitan areas in the United States with the highest employment level and the number of employed professionals in the area in May 2020. They are as follows:
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida- 1,600
- New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Philadelphia – 830
- Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland – 790
- Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia- North Carolina – 470
- Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, Massachusetts-North Hampshire – 320
These are some of the highly-rated employers that have hired a certified marine mechanic recently:
- United States Army
- Kansas City Police Department
- Leith Toyota
- Prime Motor Group
- Subaru of America
- National Power
- Sears Holding
- Phil Smith Chevrolet
A career as a marine technician can be incredibly fulfilling, especially if you love hands-on work and the science behind boats. To become a marine mechanic, enrolling in a good training program at an accredited institution is vital if you want to complete your training quickly and start earning immediately.
A formal associate’s degree can help you get job-ready in about 18 months instead of working for four years as an apprentice after high school.
What is a marine technician?
A marine mechanic/technician works in the repair and maintenance of boats and other marine vessels. They perform replacements of parts, install new equipment, and perform routine maintenance activities.
How do I become a maritime mechanic?
You can become a maritime mechanic by enrolling in an apprenticeship or training program. However, an associate’s degree in marine technology offers one of the most accessible paths for becoming a marine mechanic.
START YOUR CAREER IN MARINE TECHNOLOGY
Earn your degree in marine tech from NEIT and begin your new career path today!
How much does a marine mechanic make?
The average salary for a motorboat mechanic/marine service technician is $45,490 per year. However, with adequate experience and skills, some marine mechanics make as much as $66,230 annually.
How long is marine tech school?
Marine tech schools can take about 1-2 years, depending on the type of training you choose. Certificate courses can take less than a year, while associate’s degree programs typically require two years to complete.