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Become An Engine Mechanic

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Working As An Engine Mechanic

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • $66,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Engine Mechanic Do

Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment. Mechanics often specialize in one type of equipment, such as motorcycles, motorboats, or outdoor power equipment.

Duties

Small engine mechanics typically do the following:

  • Discuss equipment issues, maintenance plans, and work performed with customers
  • Perform routine engine maintenance, such as lubricating parts and replacing spark plugs
  • Test and inspect engines for malfunctioning parts
  • Adjust components according to specifications
  • Repair or replace worn, defective, or broken parts
  • Reassemble and reinstall components and engines following repairs
  • Keep records of inspections, test results, work performed, and parts used

Small engine mechanics work on power equipment ranging from snowmobiles to chainsaws. When equipment breaks down, mechanics use many strategies to diagnose the source and the extent of the problem. Small engine mechanics identify mechanical, electrical, and fuel system problems and make necessary repairs.

Mechanics’ tasks vary in complexity and difficulty. Maintenance inspections and repairs, for example, involve minor adjustments or the replacement of a single part. On the other hand, piston calibration and spark plug replacement may require taking an engine apart completely. Some mechanics use computerized equipment to tune racing motorcycles and motorboats.

Mechanics use a variety of hand tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers, for many common tasks. Some mechanics may also use compression gauges, ammeters, and voltmeters to test engine performance. For more complicated procedures, they commonly use pneumatic tools, which are powered by compressed air, or diagnostic equipment.

Although employers usually provide the more expensive tools and testing equipment, mechanics usually own their own hand tools. Some mechanics have thousands of dollars invested in their tool collections.

Motorboat mechanics and service technicians maintain and repair the mechanical and electrical components of boat engines. Most of their work, whether on small outboard engines or large diesel-powered inboard motors, is performed at docks and marinas where the repair shop is located. Motorboat mechanics may also work on propellers, steering mechanisms, marine plumbing, and other boat equipment.

Motorcycle mechanics specialize in working on motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles. They service engines, transmissions, brakes, and ignition systems and make minor body repairs, among other tasks. Most work for dealerships, servicing and repairing specific makes and models.

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics service and repair outdoor power equipment, such as lawnmowers, edge trimmers, garden tractors, and portable generators. Some mechanics may work on snowblowers and snowmobiles, but this work is highly seasonal and regional.

For information about technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles, see the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians who work primarily on large trucks and buses, see the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and rail cars, see the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

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How To Become An Engine Mechanic

Small engine mechanics typically enter the occupation with a high school diploma or postsecondary nondegree award and learn their trade through on-the-job training. As motorized power equipment becomes more sophisticated, employers increasingly prefer to hire mechanics who have completed postsecondary education programs.

Education

Motorboat and outdoor power equipment mechanics typically begin work with a high school diploma and learn on the job, although some of them seek postsecondary education. High school or vocational school courses in small engine repair and automobile mechanics are often beneficial.

Motorcycle mechanics typically complete postsecondary education programs in motorcycle repair, and employers prefer to hire these workers because they usually require significantly less on-the-job training.

Training

Trainees work closely with experienced mechanics while learning basic tasks, such as replacing spark plugs or disassembling engine components. As they gain experience, trainees move on to more difficult tasks, such as advanced computerized diagnosis and engine overhauls. Achieving competency may take anywhere from several months to 3 years, depending on a mechanic’s specialization and ability. 

Because of the increased complexity of boat and motorcycle engines, motorcycle and motorboat mechanics who do not complete postsecondary education often need more on-the-job training than outdoor power equipment mechanics.

Employers frequently send mechanics to training courses run by motorcycle, motorboat, and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and dealers, which teach mechanics the most up-to-date technology and techniques. Often, these courses are a prerequisite to performing warranty and manufacturer-specific work.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many motorboat and motorcycle manufacturers offer certification specific to their own models, and certification from the Equipment & Engine Training Council is the recognized industry credential for outdoor power equipment mechanics. Although not required, certification can demonstrate a mechanic’s competence and usually brings higher pay.

Motorcycle mechanics usually need a driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Small engine mechanics frequently discuss problems and necessary repairs with their customers. They must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Small engine mechanics must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing engines and components, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments and other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Small engine mechanics need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination for many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools.

Mechanical skills. Small engine mechanics must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often disassemble major parts for repairs, and they must be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Small engine mechanics keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability for parts.

Troubleshooting skills. Small engine mechanics must be able to use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

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Engine Mechanic Career Paths

Engine Mechanic
Aircraft Mechanic Lead Mechanic Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Aircraft Mechanic Lead Mechanic
Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Aircraft Mechanic Lead Mechanic Maintenance Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Service Manager Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Systems Administrator Manager
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Service Manager Owner
Maintenance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Technician Foreman
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Technician Shop Foreman
Lead Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Electrician Maintenance Supervisor
Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Electrician
Maintenance Lead Technician
7 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Field Engineer Electrician
Maintenance Technician Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Engineer Lead Technician
Service Technician Lead
6 Yearsyrs
Helicopter Mechanic Team Leader Maintenance Supervisor
Mechanics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Helicopter Mechanic Aircraft Maintenance Technician Maintenance Lead Technician
Maintenance Lead Person
6 Yearsyrs
Helicopter Mechanic Sheet Metal Mechanic Shop Foreman
Senior Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Generator Mechanic Supervisor Facilities Manager
Assistant Chief Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Generator Mechanic Shop Foreman Crew Chief
Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Generator Mechanic Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Marine Mechanic
5 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Millwright Industrial Maintenance Technician
Senior Maintenance Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Maintenance Foreman Maintenance Technician Supervisor
Manager Of Maintenance Technology
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Engine Mechanic?

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Do you work as an Engine Mechanic?

Highest Engine Mechanic Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Rotary Engine Mechanical Engineer Liquidpiston Inc. Bloomfield, CT Aug 25, 2015 $75,000
Racecar/Sprint Car Engine Mechanic Don Ott Racing Engines, Inc. York Springs, PA Jun 15, 2011 $46,958 -
$52,175
Racecar/Sprint Car Engine Mechanic Don Ott Auto Racing Engines, Inc. York Springs, PA Jun 20, 2011 $46,958 -
$52,175
Racecar/Sprint Car Engine Mechanic Don Ott Racing Engines, Inc. York Springs, PA Jun 24, 2011 $46,958 -
$52,175

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Top Skills for An Engine Mechanic

  1. Service Aircraft
  2. Boilers
  3. Engine Repair
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Clean, refuel, and change oil in line service aircraft.
  • Fire & Water Tender, Refrigeration, Steam and Boilers.
  • Mentored 12 personnel in engine repair and administrative procedures; resulted in all 12 personnel achieving their qualification within 4 months.
  • Performed engine mechanical and electrical repairs, and overhauls of Caterpillar diesel engines.
  • Ensured the proper maintenance procedures by utilizing schematics, technical manuals and electronic maintenance manuals.

Engine Mechanic Demographics

Gender

Male

85.9%

Unknown

9.0%

Female

5.1%
Ethnicity

White

63.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.6%

Black or African American

11.7%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

64.3%

Korean

14.3%

French

7.1%

Japanese

7.1%

Tagalog

7.1%
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Engine Mechanic Education

Schools

Community College of the Air Force

15.5%

University of Phoenix

13.6%

Universal Technical Institute

12.7%

The Academy

6.4%

Redstone College

5.5%

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

5.5%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

5.5%

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

4.5%

Hallmark University-College of Aeronautics

3.6%

A-Technical College

2.7%

University of North Texas

2.7%

Rock Valley College

2.7%

Lindenwood University

2.7%

Saint Leo University

2.7%

American InterContinental University

2.7%

Portland State University

2.7%

Northern Illinois University

2.7%

Marine Corps Institute

1.8%

University of Maryland - University College

1.8%

DeVry University-Georgia

1.8%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

20.7%

Aviation

20.1%

Business

13.0%

Mechanical Engineering

4.6%

Electrical Engineering

4.3%

General Studies

4.1%

Engineering

4.1%

Precision Metal Working

3.3%

Management

3.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.0%

Aerospace Engineering

2.7%

Education

2.4%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.2%

Accounting

2.2%

Criminal Justice

1.9%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.9%

Industrial Technology

1.6%

Project Management

1.6%

Psychology

1.6%

Marine Engineering

1.6%
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Degrees

Other

38.4%

Bachelors

20.0%

Associate

18.8%

Certificate

10.7%

Masters

5.2%

Diploma

4.9%

License

1.6%

Doctorate

0.4%
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