Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians
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Repair and adjust electrical and mechanical equipment of inboard or inboard-outboard boat engines.
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Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Small engine mechanics typically do the following:

  • Discuss equipment issues, maintenance plans, and work performed with customers
  • Perform routine engine maintenance, such as lubricating parts and replacing spark plugs
  • Test and inspect engines for malfunctioning parts
  • Adjust components according to specifications
  • Repair or replace worn, defective, or broken parts
  • Reassemble and reinstall components and engines following repairs
  • Keep records of inspections, test results, work performed, and parts used


Small engine mechanics work on power equipment ranging from snowmobiles to chain saws. When equipment breaks down, mechanics use many strategies to diagnose the source and extent of the problem. Small engine mechanics identify mechanical, electrical, and fuel system problems and make necessary repairs.

Mechanics’ tasks vary in complexity and difficulty. Maintenance inspections and repairs, for example, involve minor adjustments or the replacement of a single part. Hand calibration, piston calibration, and spark plug replacement, however, may require taking an engine apart completely. Some mechanics use computerized equipment to tune racing motorcycles and motorboats.

Mechanics use a variety of hand tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers, for many common tasks. Some mechanics also may use compression gauges, ammeters, and voltmeters to test engine performance. For more complicated procedures, they commonly use pneumatic tools, which are powered by compressed air, or diagnostic equipment.

Although employers usually provide the more expensive tools and testing equipment, some mechanics may be required to use their own hand tools. Some mechanics have thousands of dollars invested in their tool collections.

The following are examples of types of small engine mechanics:

Motorboat mechanics and service technicians maintain and repair the mechanical and electrical components of boat engines. Most of their work, whether on small outboard engines or large diesel-powered inboard motors, is performed at docks and marinas where the repair shop is located. Motorboat mechanics also may work on propellers, steering mechanisms, marine plumbing, and other boat equipment.

Motorcycle mechanics specialize in working on motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles. They service engines, transmissions, brakes, and ignition systems and make minor body repairs, among other tasks. Most work for dealerships, servicing and repairing specific makes and models.

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics service and repair outdoor power equipment, such as lawnmowers, edge trimmers, garden tractors, and portable generators. Some mechanics may work on snowblowers and snowmobiles, but this work is highly seasonal and regional.

Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles are described in the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

Technicians who work primarily on large trucks and buses are described in the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and rail cars are described in the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

Median salary: $43,320 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $33,450 and $55,540.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for small engine mechanics
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of motorboat mechanics and service technicians who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Contaminants (84%)
  • Time Pressure (81%)
  • Hazardous Equipment (61%)
  • Consequence of Error (59%)
  • Hazardous Conditions (55%)
  • Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites (53%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health (49%)
  • Unpleasant or Angry People (38%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Customer-service skills
Small engine mechanics frequently discuss problems and necessary repairs with their customers. They must be courteous, be good listeners, and always remain ready to answer customers’ questions.
Detail oriented
Small engine mechanics must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing engines and components, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments and other easy-to-miss causes.
Small engine mechanics need a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination for many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools.
Mechanical skills
Small engine mechanics must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often disassemble major parts for repairs, and they must be able to put them back together properly.
Organizational skills
Small engine mechanics keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability for parts.
Troubleshooting skills
Small engine mechanics use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components to identify and fix problems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.
Injury and Illness
About 79 motorboat mechanics and service technicians become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 76% of other careers. The most common specific illnesses or injuries are detailed following.
Bruises and contusions
Sprains, strains, tears
Soreness and pain
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by motorboat mechanics and service technicians
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), motorboat mechanics and service technicians typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as small engine mechanics as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for motorboat mechanics and service technicians

Motorboat and outdoor power equipment mechanics typically begin work with a high school diploma and learn on the job, although some of them seek postsecondary education. High school or vocational school courses in small engine repair and automobile mechanics are often beneficial.

Motorcycle mechanics typically complete postsecondary education programs in motorcycle repair, and employers prefer to hire these workers because they usually require less on-the-job training.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for motorboat mechanics and service technicians

Many motorboat and motorcycle manufacturers offer certification specific to their own models, and certification from the Equipment & Engine Training Council is the recognized industry credential for outdoor power equipment mechanics. Although not required, certification can demonstrate a mechanic’s competence and usually brings higher pay.

Motorcycle mechanics usually need a driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.

Education level of Small engine mechanics
Only 4% of small engine mechanics have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by small engine mechanics
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
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Programs recommended by the Department of Education
The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click a program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.
Number of degrees awarded in 2018
Education level of awarded degrees
Gender of graduates
Race/origin of graduates
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Small engine mechanics per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most motorboat mechanics and service technicians? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as motorboat mechanics and service technicians. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where motorboat mechanics and service technicians earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for small engine mechanics compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for small engine mechanics.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which small engine mechanics earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Small engine mechanics (ACS for all specialties)
14% of Small engine mechanics are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 14% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 55% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of small engine mechanics by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$32K$33K$24K$28K$44K$33K$43K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate for-profitAll
Small engine mechanics and gender
With 2% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 94% of careers.
Gender of Small engine mechanics
Men (98%)
Women (2%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for small engine mechanics, with the median salary for men 11% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Small engine mechanics
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Small engine mechanics.
Race/origin of small engine mechanics
White (90% )
Black (4% )
Other (3% )
Multiracial (2% )
Asian (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Hispanic (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.