Love boats?

How about simply being around water in general? Tired of cubicles and meetings and need a change of pace?

Or are you simply looking to repair your boat instead of paying someone else to do so? Want to work for a big merchant vessel or luxury super yacht?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, then becoming a marine mechanic (aka marine technician or boat mechanic) might be just what the doctor ordered.

Marine mechanics are hands-on people who work on or around water with boats and yachts. Many repair, troubleshoot, and maintain the following:

  • Engines and motors
  • Fuel systems
  • Steering and propulsion systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Troubleshooting mechanical faults
  • Issue diagnostic and repair

So, how do you become a marine mechanic? Read on to learn everything you need to know about becoming a marine technician.

Job Description

There are lots of different boats cruising on the various waterways of the U.S. These boats do break down quite often or require tune-ups from time to time.

Marine mechanics are responsible for keeping boats afloat so to speak. Whether it’s a recreational or commercial vessel, they know how to do the job properly. As a marine mechanic, your duties may include:

  • Working on all kinds of watercrafts
  • Handling all the usual maintenance
  • Checking for engine problems (Bonus: You’ll drive lots of boats!)
  • Repairing or replacing all the damaged, worn, or faulty parts and pieces of the vessel
  • Examining and testing all the boat’s equipment to check for faulty parts
  • Communicating with clients about what is wrong and what should be done to fix the boat and have it running properly
  • Recording everything you’re doing for all clients

Marine Mechanic Skills

Marine mechanics require an excellent attention to detail. They must be careful and responsible while working to prevent equipment damage and injuries.

They also need to be analytical and excellent at solving problems. Moreover, they should be physically fit, have superior hand-eye coordination, and great manual dexterity.

Marine mechanics must be organized, self-directed, and have strong repair skills as they should also be able to train new mechanics. Additionally, they should have strong verbal, interpersonal, and written communication skills.

How to Become a Boat Mechanic

As a boat mechanic, you’ll be handling technologically advanced equipment. Therefore, you’ll need to go through marine mechanic training. However, some employers train people on the job or enroll them in marine mechanic schools.

Here are the steps you need to take if you want to become a boat mechanic.

Prepare Yourself in High School

You can start preparing to become a marine mechanic by taking shop classes if they’re in your high school. Shop courses provide hands-on experience with some little hand tools and problem-solving.

To develop good technical and written communication skills, be sure to work hard in Math, English, and electronic classes.

Finish an Apprenticeship

Another way to get the training you need is to learn on the job via an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships are available at boat manufacturers, labor associations, technical schools, and community colleges.

Apprenticeships can last up to 4 years.

Here are some of the subjects you might encounter:

  • Hydraulic systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Performance tuning
  • Parts fabrication
  • Inboard and outboard games

Attend College

While you can become a marine mechanic through an apprenticeship program, many employers prefer people with a college education or formal training. You can get this from an associate’s degree or certificate program.

Some marine mechanic schools focus on marine technology. As well as content that overlaps apprenticeship program, your lessons might touch on the basics of 4-cycle and 2-cycle engines, welding, diagnostics, and shop organization.

Some programs may come with an internship or practicum. In addition, associate’s degree programs require you to finish general education courses.

You can earn a certificate within a year. It typically takes two years to earn an associate’s degree.

Become a Certified Marine Technician

The American Boat & Yacht association provides various marine mechanic certifications. For example, mechanics can get certifications such as marine systems, marine corrosion, gasoline engine, and support systems, or diesel engine and support systems.

There are also certifications in electrical and refrigeration and air conditioning. Each course includes two to four-day seminars followed by a certification examination.

Marine mechanics may also get manufacturer-specific certifications, which are vital to getting ahead in the industry.

Maintain Certification

All marine mechanic certifications from ABYC remain relevant for five years. You can take the recertification exam online.

Find a Job

After receiving your marine mechanic certification, you can now start looking for work. Make sure that your certification is nationally accredited so you can work anywhere in the country.

Many apprentices will work for their present employer. Since the employer knows the kind of work their apprentice does, they may hire them on a full-time basis.

Other marine mechanics look for work elsewhere or even establish their own businesses near well-known lakes and oceans. Here, they can fix marine engines throughout the day.

If you choose self-employment, be sure to take some elemental business courses in addition to your marine mechanic courses.

Some graduates pursue continuing education in the automotive department. Fixing marine engines is one skill but there are also many more you can learn.

Some opt to focus on fixing trucks, tractors, and other large vehicles on the road. Others decide to earn a diploma or automotive certificate IV in their preferred field of study.

Whatever path you decide to take, your certificate will drive you towards your dream career.

Boat Mechanic Salary

As a boat mechanic, you can expect an average yearly income of about $45,000. Your salary will depend on several factors, such as your education level and experience, location, industry, and specialty.

Job Outlook

Boat mechanics is an industry that’s growing. You should aim to pursue continuing boat mechanic courses after graduating from a marine mechanic school. This will help you keep up with new trends and technologies in marine repair.

Alternative Career Options

If you aren’t interested in working on watercraft, there are alternative careers in which you can use some of your marine mechanic skills.

Automotive Service Technician

The job of an automotive service technician is to inspect, diagnose, and repair engine issues in light trucks and cars. Like in the marine mechanic field, you don’t need any formal education or certification but training is available.

Automotive service technicians work in truck or auto dealerships, government agencies or privately-owned repair shops. This is a great career for people who prefer working on small engines to fixing boats.


Seamen can carry out a variety of tasks depending on the watercraft they work on. As generalists, seamen can be assigned duties like maintaining the log of a ship while in port, standing watch, or handling and operating gear.

A seaman career is a good option for those who aren’t interested in mechanical work but still want to work on the water.

Boat Rigger

Boat riggers handle a variety of tasks associated with preparing commercial and recreational boats for the waters. They equip watercraft with vital systems related to safety, comfort, and operations.

In fact, boat rigger duties normally include installing anchors, bunks, propulsion systems, winches, lifeboats, furniture, throttle and steering controls.

Small Engine Mechanic

If the idea of working in harsh weather conditions and living along the coast doesn’t appeal to you, you can opt to become a small engine mechanic. Most of the skills required in boat repair also apply to motorcycle, tractor, lawn mower, snowmobile, snow blower, and portable generator repair.

As a small engine mechanic, your work environment might be more sedentary and the salary is comparable to that earned by marine mechanics. You may also work as a marine technician during the summer when boat repair services are in higher demand.

Marine Electrician

Marine electricians set up, troubleshoot, and fix marine electrical and electronic systems. This may involve working with manuals and blueprints or even designing your own systems.

Some of the things you might work with include batteries, chargers, navigation systems, satellite TV hardware, and solar panels. Be sure to check out for more information about marine batteries.

Marine Engineer

The gigantic vessels you see on oceans are designed by marine engineers. There are only a few universities in the U.S that have marine engineering course, so you should aim to get accepted to any of them.

You’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Once you graduate, you’ll need at least one engineering certification and a license from the Coast Guard. You’ll then be able to call yourself a professional.

Start the Voyage towards a Bright Future

Marine technicians need in-depth knowledge of the workings a variety of marine vehicles.

If you love watercraft, or just love working on or around water bodies, then becoming a marine mechanic might just be what you need.

Take action now and you could become a successful boat mechanic sooner than you might have imagined.

Make sure to explore our blog for more news and pieces about jobs in all industries.

You May Also Like