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Boat Mechanic: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to have a successful career as a boat mechanic. Learn about job outlook, education and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

What is a Boat Mechanic?

Boat mechanics service and perform maintenance on boats and other marine crafts. They must be able to communicate equipment issues, a plan of action and work completed to customers. Boat mechanics inspect, test and complete routine maintenance on equipment. After completing work on the equipment, they must keep records of what was done, parts used and any tests that were completed.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Required Degree High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary programs available
Education Field of Study Marine mechanics, small engine repair
Training Required On-the-job training, apprenticeship
Key Responsibilities Repairing boat engines, onboard systems and propellers
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6%*
Median Salary (2018) $40,180*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Boat Mechanic?

Your boat mechanic duties may have you repairing outboard engines, inboard engines, inboard-outboard engines, boat steering systems, plumbing or propellers. You generally work for repair shops, boat dealers, marinas, boatyards or boat rental companies. Boat mechanics may work indoors or outdoors while repairing marine craft, depending upon the boat's size. Larger boats generally require on-site repair, since their engines are not generally removed. You may see fluctuations in your boat mechanic business, depending on the season or your geographic location. And, you may be required to work in all types of weather.

What is My Employment Outlook?

Job growth for boat mechanics between 2018 and 2028 was expected to occur at a rate of six percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This was about as fast as the average rate of job growth for all occupations, mainly due to a slowing in the retail boat industry and the consolidation of boat manufacturers. Other small engine repair jobs, such as those in motorcycle repair, were expected to increase at a faster rate. Motor vehicle dealers employed the highest number of motorboat mechanics. In May 2018, Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Maine had the highest per capita numbers of boat mechanics in the United States. That same year, the BLS reported that the middle half of boat mechanics earned an annual salary between $31,490 and $51,760, with the median salary being $40,180.

What Education Do I Need?

Many boat mechanics receive on-the-job training or enroll in apprenticeships, but a growing number choose to pursue formal post-secondary study in marine mechanics. Only a few trade schools offer specialized training in boat repair, primarily those in coastal locations. If you cannot easily find a local option, you may instead complete a related vocational program, such as automotive service technology or small engine repair. Through these programs, you may become skilled in the use of appropriate diagnostic equipment when servicing boat engines. And, in addition to engine repair, you also learn general boat maintenance skills. Regardless of the training you choose to become a boat mechanic, you will need several years of practical experience to become proficient in boat repair.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If a boat mechanic isn't your career of choice, an automotive service technician or mechanic might be an acceptable alternative. These technicians and mechanics work on cars and trucks rather than boats. A diesel service technician or mechanic job is also similar, though it involves working on heavy buses and trucks that have diesel engines. These alternatives require similar levels of education as a boat mechanic would need.