Marine Technician Training Requirements and Career Overview
Marine technicians, or motorboat mechanics, maintain and repair the mechanical and electrical equipment found on recreational boats and small commercial vehicles. Some techs may also maintain a boat's body and perform maintenance tasks like painting, fiberglass repair and rigging installation. There are also marine technologists who work closely with oceanographers conducting fieldwork; these techs are often in charge of installing, maintaining and repairing onboard research equipment.
Training Requirements for Marine Technicians
Although there are no mandatory training requirements for marine technicians, many employers prefer applicants that have either formal training in marine technology or mechanical aptitude combined with experience in small engine repair. Marine technicians with an educational background in the field require less on-the-job training and may have greater career advancement opportunities.
There are many educational options for students interested in pursuing a career in marine technology. Certificate, diploma and undergraduate degree programs are available, while apprenticeships and training programs are also offered by motorboat manufacturers.
Most educational programs recommend students complete high school classes in advanced math, electronics and small engine repair. Although many training programs require students to have a high school diploma or GED, there are some that will accept students who haven't graduated from a secondary school but possess basic skills in reading, math and writing.
Coursework in these programs often includes classes in diesel engines, outboard engines, marine electronics, marine systems installation and boat repair. Many programs provide some type of onboard training so students can get hands-on experience in boat maintenance.
There are also advanced certificate programs available for professional marine techs interested in updating their skills. These programs may target specialized areas of marine technology, such as computer diagnostics, or may be designed around specific types of marine equipment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the job growth rate in marine technology would be slower than average between 2008 and 2018. This slow growth was attributed to economic downturns in the boating industry and the consolidation of marine craft manufacturers (www.bls.gov).
In May 2008, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for marine techs was $36,080. Technicians employed in the water transportation industry earned the highest mean wage of $17.97 an hour, while those working for marine dealerships earned the lowest wages at $16.96 an hour.
Techs that lived in Connecticut earned the highest mean wage at $21.53 an hour, while techs living in Montana only earned an hourly wage of $9.86. Jobs in this field were located primarily in coastal regions; the states with the highest number of employed marine technicians include Maine, Florida and Rhode Island (www.bls.gov).
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