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What Training Is Necessary for a Career in Small Engine Repair?

You can either seek on-the-job training or pursue a postsecondary training program in small engine repair, offered through community colleges, technical schools and vocational institutions. Read on to find out the training options.

Small Engine Repair Defined

Small engines power a variety of vehicles and outdoor equipment, including motorcycles, motorboats, snow blowers, snowmobiles, portable generators, lawn mowers and chainsaws. As a small engine repair technician, you'll inspect an engine and its related parts, including plugs, carburetors, electrical systems, fuel systems and other components, and you'll repair or replace broken and worn parts.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Median Salary (2018) $37,060 (for small engine mechanics)
Key Skills Customer service, attention to detail, working with hands, working with mechanical systems, troubleshooting and diagnostics
Certification Available, voluntary
Similar Occupations Automotive service mechanics, diesel service mechanics, auto body repairers

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Formal Training

While many small engine repairers enter the field with a high school education and receive on-the-job training, you can also complete a small engine training program to prepare you for the small engine repair trade offered by community colleges, technical schools, vocational schools and online institutions. Certificate programs usually take 6-12 months to complete. Through hands-on courses, you may learn how to make diagnostic assessments of engines and study various small engine types. Course topics might include the following:

  • Small engine repair fundamentals
  • Small engine parts and operation
  • Outboard motor servicing
  • Lubrication and cooling systems
  • Ignition systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Lawn mower repair
  • Two-stroke and four-stroke engines

On-The-Job Training

Although many employers prefer mechanics to have formal training, there are not many specialized postsecondary small engine repair training programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Depending on your desired specialty, you might instead pursue on-the-job training that lasts a few years. For example, you could begin working under the supervision of experienced mechanics and then work on more difficult projects as you become more experienced. Additionally, employers could send you to manufacturer-sponsored courses and seminars for training in a specific type of product or engine.

Employment Outlook

In 2018, the BLS reported that job prospects for small engine mechanics were much better for those who completed formal training programs (www.bls.gov). Those who specialize in outdoor power equipment repair are likely to have favorable job opportunities. Employment for this profession was expected to grow by five percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS.