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Marine mechanics are professionals who repair the electrical and mechanical equipment of boat and ship engines. They typically work at docks, marinas, and seaports. Marine mechanics work on many types of watercraft, from the smallest runabout to large, ocean-going container ships.
Marine mechanics are responsible for performing repair work on marine engines using hand and power tools along with technical manuals, according to the University of Maine. These individuals also must regularly inspect and test engine equipment to pinpoint problems. The engines they maintain can be the portable outboard engines of small boats, inboard-outboard engines of somewhat larger boats, or the very powerful diesel engines of the largest vessels.
Marine mechanics replace parts such as gears and spark plugs and additionally can address problems involving boat steering mechanisms or propellers. Marine mechanics also purchase necessary supplies, tools and equipment parts. In addition, they might have to create needed engine replacement parts such as bolts or valves using metalworking equipment, according to O*Net. These professionals also draft reports highlighting needed boat repairs.
Paying strong attention to detail is a requirement for marine mechanics. They must be responsible and careful in their work to prevent injuries and equipment damage. Marine mechanics also must be analytical and good at solving problems. They additionally should have solid manual dexterity, have good hand-eye coordination and be physically fit. These individuals must be self-directed, organized and able to train new mechanics as well, and they should have solid repair skills. In addition, marine mechanics must have solid written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills.
The ability to stand for long periods is important for marine mechanics. Marine mechanics should be able to handle high noise levels and be comfortable with kneeling, stooping and working in cramped and uncomfortable positions. They also should be prepared to twist and turn their bodies often and must be open to working outdoors in various weather conditions. They can work for recreation industries, boatyards and boat-building companies, and some choose to be self-employed.
Two-year associate degree programs or shorter certificate programs are available for aspiring marine mechanics. These programs are available at technical/vocational schools and community colleges. To prepare for these programs and for the marine mechanic field, high school students should focus on classes such as auto mechanics, small-engine repair, math and science. Many marine mechanics learn on the job or through motorboat manufacturer training courses. Marine mechanics also must participate in continuing education programs to stay current on the increasingly complex motorboat technology field.
The median hourly wages of motorboat mechanics and service technicians in 2013 were $17.35, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, according to the BLS, the mean hourly wage of diesel mechanics was $20.35 per hour