Small engine mechanics work on a variety of engines used on different pieces of power equipment including motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and outdoor equipment. They are often trained to specialize in one particular type of engine, and are required to become an expert in that field. When problems arise, it is up to the mechanic to diagnose and repair the issues, which vary in difficulty and ease of repair. Many of the jobs use small tools and equipment, however some mechanics will also use computer diagnostic equipment to aid in the procedure.
Training and Certification
While many small engine mechanics do receive on the job training, it is becoming more common for people to receive formal training, and this is preferred by employers, since less on the job training is required. However, the available training for small engines is often limited, so going to one of these schools will help you stand out to potential employers, and may improve your salary prospects as well. Many individuals start with a high school diploma, and receive a few years of on the job with a more experience technician , prior to moving on to more difficult tasks on their own.
In addition to formal and on the job training, it is common for manufacturers of small engines to hold courses and seminars in the specifics of repairing their equipment, so it is common for employers to send mechanics to these courses as well, which can be required for warranty and manufacturer specific repairs.
Small Engine Mechanic Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a small engine mechanic as of May 2010 was $31,790. Median wages for specialty small engine work were as follows:
Motorboat mechanic and technician – $35,600
Motorcycle mechanic – $31,890
Outdoor power equipment – $29,580
Many small engine jobs are seasonal, with spring and summer being the busier time of year when use of small engine equipment spikes. However, major repair work often occurs during the offseason, so employment during that time of year is often in high demand as well.
While growth will differ by specialty, small engine mechanic jobs are expected to grow by 21% between 2010 and 2020, with growth in motorcycle mechanics expected to be the highest at 24%, followed by motorboat and then outdoor power equipment mechanics.
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