How to Become A Marine Technician: The Basics
Marine technicians, also known as marine mechanics, are responsible for the maintenance and operation of boats, yachts, cruise ships and other kinds of aquatic equipment. The profession requires science, business and math skills as well as some familiarity with small engine repair and automobile mechanics. Individuals in the field rely on diagnostic equipment to test and repair boat engines, propellers, masts, ulls, rigging, sails and navigational equipment. They must be able to install and test sanitation, refrigeration, fuel and electrical systems. They may also be required to remove vessels from the water using winches and tracks and set them up on blocks.
Of course, the full scope of responsibilities extends even further. Other duties include:
- Plumbing Repair
- Assemble Steering Devices
- Hydraulic Monitoring
- Maintain and Repair Air Conditioning Units
- A familiarity with steering gears and accessories
Customer skills are also important to develop when studying for a career as a marine technician. Professionals in the field must be able to communicate with customers about the problems a vessel may be experiencing and what needs to occur in the way of repairs. They must also be able to communicate important information to non-technical customers and coworkers. Technicians should be prepared to document all tasks performed for clients, remain detail oriented and organized.
Work environments will typically vary. Some technicians will be required to work on watercraft engines, outdoors and in unpredictable weather or noisy repair shops. It is important that aspiring technicians are able to adjust to different environments.
How to Become a Marine Technician: Educational Requirements, Degrees and Certifications
While it is possible to land an entry-level position as a marine technician with only a high school diploma, it is generally recommended to pursue some type of secondary education. Employers often look towards applicants who have received hands-on experience from a reputable institution, as they will require less on-the-job training than other potential hires.
Associates degrees are popular across this field. These programs typically last 1-2 years and offer around 60 credits. Most associate degrees in marine technology focus on maintenance and repair, electrical and systems installation and hydraulics system repair. Hands-on practical skills should also be acquired.
Graduates may be eligible to continue on for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management to further their credentials.
The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) also offers over 3,000 different certificates that can be applied to a career as a marine technician. All exams are verified by the third party Nocti Business Solutions to ensure relevance and value. Specialty exams offered cover all major areas of repair, including:
- Marine Systems
- Marine Electrical
- Marine Composites
- Marine Corrosion
- Gasoline Engines
- Diesel Engines
- ABYC Standards
- A/C Refrigeration
Training typically takes about two days. Classes can be taken in a town near you. Remote options are also available. Technicians must retest every five years to remain certified through the American Boat and Yacht Council. Individuals who receive three certifications or more may qualify for the organization’s Master Technician designation, which demonstrates “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.
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Job Prospects and Opportunities for Marine Technicians
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for marine technicians are highest among the following industries:
- Motor Vehicle Dealers
- Personal Household Goods Repair and Maintenance
- Ship and Boat Building
- Support Activities for Water Transportation
- Rental and Leasing Services (5322, 5323 and 5324 only)
You can also find the top paying industries for marine technicians listed below:
- State Government (excluding schools and hospitals)
- Machinery Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers
- Deep Sea, Costa and Great Lakes Water Transportation
- Local Government (excluding schools and hospitals)
- Support Activities for Water Transportation
Individuals with a background in marine technology may find employment in the following areas:
- Marina or Boatyard Operations
- Boat and Shop Manufacturing
- Marine Engine Repair
- Support Services for Commercial Boats and Ships
- Engine Room Staff Aboard Commercial Vessels
- Marine Electronics Installation
- Marine Wholesale and Retail Product Sales
These individuals may be eligible for the following titles:
- Marine Mechanic
- Outboard Engine Technician
- Marine System Installer
Though the field has experienced a lower growth rate in recent years, there is a significant demand for skills technicians with specialty skills. For this reason, it is recommended to continue your education beyond a high school diploma. The career has an estimated growth rate of 5% over the next ten years.
Jobs are typically acquired through internet job sites, classified ads and school placement offices. Individuals can also apply directly to marinas and boat sales and service yards. Word of mouth can provide other opportunities, particularly when working with private owners. Remember, customer service skills can go a long way in this industry.
Coastal areas typically house larger facilities, which are equipped to employ a larger number of technicians. Technicians can also find work inland, near lakes and water-recreation facilities, though these arenas typically provide fewer employment opportunities than their coastal counterparts.
Florida, California, Texas, New York and Michigan boast the highest levels of employment across the country while Alaska, Maryland, Florida, Kentucky and Michigan offer the highest concentration of jobs in the field. The following cities provide the highest employment levels for marine technicians:
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- Virginia Beach
How Much Money Can a Marine Technician Make?
The annual national average salary of a marine technician is $43,440, though this figure will vary state to state, including Puerto Rico. The top earning state in the field is Hawaii, with an average annual salary of $58, 690. Connecticut, Arizona, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island follow close behind.
Seasonality can also impact earnings. Summers are typically the most profitable season for marine technicians. Individuals in the field typically see a drop in demand during the fall and winter. July is considered the best month for work as a marine technician or marine mechanic.
Winters typically provides less work for marine technicians, with most working hours dedicated to routine maintenance.
Pursue You Degree in Marine Technology at The New England Institute of Technology (NEIT)
Start your career with the New England Institute of Technology in Rhode Island!
Our associate degree program focuses on business concepts, marine electrical and marine systems installation, repair and service. We also provide hands-on practical skills in installation, service and repairs to mechanical, electrical, electronic and hydraulic systems used by commercial boats and shops alike. Marine business procedures are taught using computerized learning methods with marine-specific software.
Our practical lab and classroom experiences are designed to introduce students to electrical theory, outboard engine repair, marine gas and diesel inboard repair, transmissions and navigation.
Our faculty members are factory-certified by the ABYC, Volvo and Mercury Marine. Our Marine Technology Department serves as the New England training site for Volvo Penta Marine. Advanced training is available for qualified students. Students may also qualify to become certified Volvo Penta Technicians.
We provide students with the knowledge of workplace hazards and safe working practices to be used when working around the waterfront or with travel-lifts and other hoisting equipment. We also follow Clean Marina protocols and EPA requirements associated with working in the marine industry to educate students on environmental laws.
Graduates will be prepared for entry-level positions across the field, from boatyard operations to support services and more. Individuals looking to advance their position should look towards becoming a supervisor. Specialty skills can also help individuals advance their careers.
Check out our program page for more information on our Associate Degree in Marine Technology.
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Other Opportunities for Marine Technicians at the New England Institute of Technology
Outside of our degree program, we offer a series of customized and comprehensive marine education training programs. All programs were designed in conjunction with the American Boat Builders and Repairers Association. Individuals will develop important skills, supported by hands-on training and relevant course content. The following training programs are at the New England Institute of Technology:
- Basic Diesel Training and Technician Certification
- Advanced Diesel Technician Training
- Topcoat Application
- Gasoline EFI
If you need more specific course content, we have the resources to create custom programs, made exclusively for you.
For more information you can call 401-739-5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New England Institute of Technology has also established the Shipbuilding/Marine Trades and Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SAMI). The program is designed to train workers hired by regional manufacturers. Students will participate in an intensive, customized 300-hour machinist training program and introduced to local employers for entry-level positions. Check out this page for more information on our SAMI program.
Similar Careers and Opportunities
It’s important to remember that many of the skills honed in this field can be applied to adjacent industries. Related programs at NEIT include automotive technology, auto body repair and business management. Of course, the list doesn’t end there. Other careers that rely on some of the same training include diesel mechanic, carpenter, appliance repair technician, plumber, auto mechanic, electrician and more. Many of these positions offer similar compensation to that of a marine mechanic.
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