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Become A Small Engine Mechanic

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Working As A Small Engine Mechanic

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • $102,990

    Average Salary

What Does A Small 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 A Small 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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Small Engine Mechanic jobs

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Real Small Engine Mechanic Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Small Engine Mechanic MJC Labor Solutions LLC PA Mar 05, 2015 $43,493
Small Engine Mechanic MJC Labor Solutions LLC PA Mar 06, 2014 $42,303
Small Engine Mechanic Maldonado Nursery & Landscaping, Inc. TX Feb 04, 2015 $38,964
Small Engine Mechanic Breath of Spring Ltd. Pelham, NY Jan 29, 2016 $35,880
Small Engine Mechanic MJC Labor Solutions LLC PA Mar 10, 2012 $35,750
Small Engine Mechanic JT Mower Service, Inc. Annandale, VA Jul 08, 2008 $34,039
Small Engine Mechanic Maldonado Nursery & Landscaping, Inc. TX Feb 12, 2015 $32,390
Small Engine Mechanic MJC Labor Solutions LLC PA Mar 07, 2013 $31,702
Small Engine Mechanic Village Outdoors, Ltd. Kirtland, OH Apr 29, 2016 $31,096

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Top Skills for A Small Engine Mechanic

MowersReplacementPartsGeneralMaintenanceCustomerServicePortableSawsStringTrimmersEatersHandToolsATVFractional-HorsepowerGasolineEnginesPreventiveMaintenanceStihlDeliverySafetyTroubleshootNewEquipmentHondaPressureWashersRentalEquipmentWaterPumps

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Top Small Engine Mechanic Skills

  1. Mowers
  2. Replacement Parts
  3. General Maintenance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Disassembled crates that housed incoming zero turn mowers, while assembling those mowers afterward.
  • Located replacement parts using parts breakdowns and internet sources.
  • Performed general maintenance and repair of various garden equipment and mowers.
  • Repaired small engine equipment Customer service - selling parts over the counter and helping customers on the phone
  • Repair and maintain gasoline engines used to power equipment such as portable saws, lawn mowers, generators, and compressors.

Top Small Engine Mechanic Employers

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Small Engine Mechanic Videos

Tools of the Small Engine Mechanic

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