How to retrain in boat motor repair

Written by felicia greene
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How to retrain in boat motor repair
This outboard motor can easily be transported to the engine repair shop. (toy outboard motor image by pearlguy from

Boat motor repair technicians, or marine mechanics, may work on small outboard motors or large diesel engines. Work may include general maintenance, troubleshooting or new motor installations. Besides work on the motor itself, marine mechanics often work on propulsion systems, steering systems, plumbing systems and other equipment that interfaces with the motor.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for motorboat (marine) mechanics is expected to grow by six per cent between 2008 and 2018. Mechanics who complete formal training programs or who are experienced with several types of engines, will have the best employment prospects.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • List of local outboard repair shops
  • List of accessible marine technician programs (technical school)
  • List of accessible marine repair programs (degree or certificate)
  • List of marine diesel engine manufacturers
  • List of local marine diesel shops that service those manufacturers' engines
  • List of general marine diesel engine shops

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  1. 1

    Study the basics of outboard repair versus marine diesel repair in order to know where you might want to work. Marine outboard motors are generally used on smaller vessels such as daysailers or small recreational fishing boats. Many outboards are small enough to be removed from the boat and taken to the engine shop for repair.

    In contrast, marine diesel engines are generally installed in larger sailboats and powerboats. These engines are larger and heavier, and cannot be safely lifted out of the boat without an engine hoist. Because of this constraint, diesel engine work is usually performed aboard the vessel.

  2. 2

    Explore local outboard apprentice options. Visit marinas throughout your region, and look for outboard engine repair shops. Offer to work as an apprentice while you learn outboard maintenance skills. If part-time or unpaid apprentice work is an option, you may improve your chances of success.

  3. 3

    Research marine technician certification programs. Some technical schools offer a marine technician certificate. Programs begin with emphasis on general theory, and then address operation of specific manufacturers' engines. Although courses focus on outboard engine maintenance, some class time is given to diesel engines.

  4. 4

    Obtain a two-year marine repair degree. Selected community colleges and other two-year schools offer associate's degrees or certificates in marine and small engine repair. The Education Portal website lists a sampling of typical courses from these curricula, along with a searchable directory of participating schools (See Resources).

  5. 5

    Contact marine diesel engine manufacturers. Ask about company-affiliated training programs that certify mechanics to work on the company's diesel engine products. In addition, request contact information for local diesel shops authorised to service those marine engines.

  6. 6

    Visit local diesel engine shops. Many medium-sized marine communities have at least one marine diesel engine service shop. Although diesel mechanics often perform maintenance on recreational marine diesel engines, larger diesel engines are used on commercial vessels such as shrimp boats.

    Offer to serve as an apprentice while you learn diesel maintenance and repair skills. Consider part time or unpaid work if that's financially feasible.

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