Marine Technician Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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Learn about a marine technician's job description, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a marine technician's career.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Marine Technician

Marine technicians, also called marine mechanics, are responsible for maintaining and repairing electrical and mechanical equipment onboard a ship. Read the pros and cons below to find out more about this career.

Pros of being a Marine Technician
Can work on ship and shore**
Formal education not required for entry into the field*
Variety of tasks**

Cons of being a Marine Technician
Slower than average 4% growth in the field from 2014-2024*
Some employers might provide seasonal work only*
Exposure to chemicals**
Work environment may be physical demanding*
May be expected to buy some of your own tools*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

A marine technician's duties will vary widely depending upon where he/she is employed. According to the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence and the Association of Marine Technicians, a marine technician's job could include troubleshooting engine problems, preventative maintenance and assembling or disassembling engines. The work is usually performed using hand, power or pneumatic tools, and computerized analytic and diagnostic equipment. Further, marine technicians can work on shore or on the open water.

Marine technicians can find work in public, private and government sectors or they may freelance. Public sector career paths include working for public marinas, companies that rent out boats or service/repair yards. Career opportunities in the private sector may include employment by yacht or fleet owners, while government work could entail working for agencies, such as law enforcement or fire rescue, or as a civilian employee of the Coast Guard.

Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), small engine mechanics specializing in motorboat mechanics had an annual mean wage in 2014 of about $33,000. This figure does not make the distinction between those who have obtained formal education from those who did not; nor does it account for years of experience in the field. Pay may vary depending upon experience, education and employment sector.

Career Skills and Requirements

The education and training of a marine technician can take a couple of different paths. While there does not appear to be any state or federal requirements for schooling or licensure, the BLS reports that employers may prefer candidates with formal training. In addition to teaching students about small engine mechanics, associate's degree programs provide education and training in marine electronics, A/C refrigeration systems, rigging, supervising and marine technology. Certificate programs in marine technology may vary in length and depth, and they usually won't require classes not directly related to the trade itself. Finally, there is the option of becoming an apprentice. Apprenticeships have a long standing tradition in this field, but as boating technology continues to evolve, so does the need for skilled workers who are well-rounded in technology as well as mechanics.

Employers of marine technicians are looking for workers who can troubleshoot, repair and maintain small engines. This requires knowledge of how marine engines work, skills to use industry standard equipment, understanding federal/state/local maritime laws and the ability to work cooperatively with others.

Postings from Real Employers

Whether working out in the open water or on land in a marina, the two qualities that most employers appear to want in a marine technician are sharp diagnostic abilities and troubleshooting skills. Below are a few postings from actual employers looking to hire marine technicians as of May 2012.

  • A Washington-based marine engine repair company seeks a marine technician to service outboard and/or stern drive engines. The top two listed duties are diagnostics and repair. Salary is hourly plus commission and benefits are available.
  • A South Carolina full service dealership seeks an experienced marine technician to troubleshoot and diagnose problems with non-outboard engines. The company offers full time work with additional health care and 401K benefits.
  • A Florida based marine repair and maintenance company seeks a marine technician to perform diagnostic work and maintenance. The employer is seeking candidates with a 2-year technical education and some experience.

How to Stand Out

According to the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, marine technicians will have a variety of job responsibilities. As boating technology advances, so too does the skill set that marine technicians must acquire. As recent job postings show, standing out from the crowd will require a mixture of education and experience.

Get Certified

Professional associations and employers are in agreement about the benefits of certification. The Association of Marine Technicians supports certification as a means of raising the standard of quality service; they offer courses in various aspects of boat repair, diagnostics and maintenance. The American Boat and Yacht Council also provides certification for marine mechanics as a means of improving quality and professionalism in the field. With employers seeking out only the most skilled candidates and with professional organizations pushing for higher standards in the field, certification is one way to prove mastery of a skill set and a willingness to go the extra mile even though it is not currently required by the industry.

Professional Associations

Technicians and technical workers who stay on top of industry innovations in their field will appear more attractive to employers. Professional organizations such as the Association of Marine Technicians and the American Boat and Yacht Council offer members training opportunities, access to conferences and trade shows and ongoing updates on changes in the field. Membership can also mean getting listed in the organization's directory; a definite benefit for a marine technician wanting to distinguish him/herself from the crowd.

Other Careers to Consider

For those interested in either small engine repair or working on watercraft, there are other careers similar in nature that may utilize some of the same skills.

Automotive Service Technician

Automotive service technicians inspect, repair and diagnose engine troubles in cars and light trucks. As in the marine technician industry, there are no requirements for formal education or certification but training is available. These technicians find employment in car/truck dealerships, privately owned repair shops or with government agencies. The BLS projected 17% job growth from 2010 to 2020. This is a good choice for those who wish to work on small engines but have no desire to work on boats.

Seaman

Able seamen, a type of water transportation worker, can perform a variety of duties depending upon the vessel they work. As a generalist, the able seamen can be assigned to tasks such as maintaining a ship log while in port, handling and running gear or standing watch. This profession is a good choice for those who want to work on the water but not be responsible for mechanical work. The BLS projects that employment of water transportation workers will grow by 20% from 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

  • Campus Locations:
    1. Universal Technical Institute

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Marine Technician Specialist
      • Diesel Technology
      • Automotive Technology
      • Collision Repair and Refinish Technology
  • Campus Locations:
    2. Lincoln Tech

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diesel Technology
      • Collision Repair and Refinishing
      • Automotive Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Auto Repair Technician
      • Career Diploma - Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Truck Maintenance
      • Career Diploma - Small Engine Repair
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    4. Southern Careers Institute

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Auto Apprenticeship
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster High School

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    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Juneau, AK

    University of Alaska

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    Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

  • Davie, FL

    William T McFatter Technical College

  • Warwick, RI

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    Tom P Haney Technical Center

Featured Schools

Universal Technical Institute

  • Marine Technician Specialist
  • Diesel Technology
  • Automotive Technology

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Lincoln Tech

  • Diesel Technology
  • Collision Repair and Refinishing
  • Automotive Technology

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Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Auto Repair Technician
  • Career Diploma - Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Truck Maintenance
  • Career Diploma - Small Engine Repair

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Southern Careers Institute

  • Auto Apprenticeship

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Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

William T McFatter Technical College