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Working As a Small 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
  • $42,000

    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 Career Paths

Small Engine Mechanic
Technician Team Leader Manager
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Electrician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Technician Electrician
Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Maintenance Technician Foreman
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Service Technician Computer Technician
Senior Service Technician
6 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Shop Foreman Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Coordinator Operation Supervisor
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Service Technician Field Service Technician
Lead Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Foreman Maintenance Supervisor
Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Maintenance Technician Electrician
Maintenance Lead Technician
7 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Welder Shop Foreman
Senior Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Foreman Lead Technician
Service Technician Lead
6 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Maintenance Technician Hvac Technician
Maintenance Technician Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Self-Employed Lead Person
Maintenance Lead Person
6 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Welder Shop Foreman
Mechanics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Lube Technician Mechanical Technician Maintenance Electrician
Senior Maintenance Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Lube Technician Mechanical Technician Machinist Mate
Marine Mechanic
5 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Owner/Operator Chief Engineer
Chief Building Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Senior Mechanic
Senior Maintenance Mechanic
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Small Engine Mechanic?

Average Yearly Salary
$42,000
Show Salaries
$28,000
Min 10%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Ace Hardware
Highest Paying City
Rocklin, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.8 years
How much does a Small Engine Mechanic make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Small Engine Mechanic in the United States is $42,622 per year or $20 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $28,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $63,000.

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 MJC Labor Solutions LLC Upper Darby, PA Mar 17, 2016 $39,716
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

  1. Parts Counter
  2. Customer Service
  3. General Maintenance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Service Technician, also delivered equipment, worked parts counter, answered phone, made sales and unload trucks.
  • Communicated and handled all customer service.
  • Performed general maintenance and repair of various garden equipment and mowers.
  • Have worked for several small engine repair shops as well as owned my own small engine parts and repair business.
  • Serviced and repaired small engines* Serviced and repaired diesel engines

Rank:

Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Small Engine Mechanics

  1. Alaska
  2. Nevada
  3. Oregon
  4. New Mexico
  5. Washington
  6. Arizona
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Idaho
  9. Texas
  10. California
  • (31 jobs)
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  • (41 jobs)
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  • (79 jobs)
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  • (343 jobs)
  • (307 jobs)

Small Engine Mechanic Demographics

Gender

Male

88.4%

Unknown

7.5%

Female

4.1%
Ethnicity

White

67.4%

Black or African American

11.9%

Hispanic or Latino

11.5%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.1%

Polish

14.3%

Greek

14.3%

Italian

14.3%
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Small Engine Mechanic Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

9.9%

Universal Technical Institute

8.8%

The Academy

8.8%

Universal Technical Institute-Motorcycle Mechanics

7.7%

University of Northwestern Ohio

6.6%

Penn Foster Career School

5.5%

Hinds Community College

4.4%

University of Pennsylvania

4.4%

Hennepin Technical College

4.4%

Northwest Lineman College

4.4%

A-Technical College

4.4%

Lincoln College of Technology - Indianapolis

4.4%

Michigan Technological University

3.3%

Trinity Valley Community College

3.3%

Mitchell Technical Institute

3.3%

Ashford University

3.3%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

3.3%

Ozarks Technical Community College

3.3%

Technology Center

3.3%

Joliet Junior College

3.3%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

24.6%

Business

10.2%

Precision Metal Working

6.8%

Small Business Management

5.9%

General Studies

5.3%

Criminal Justice

5.1%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

5.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.7%

Mechanical Engineering

4.7%

Computer Science

3.8%

Electrical Engineering

3.6%

Industrial Technology

3.2%

Aviation

3.0%

Education

2.8%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

2.3%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.1%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.9%

Electrical And Power Transmission Installers

1.7%

Law Enforcement

1.7%

Management

1.5%
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Degrees

Other

47.6%

Associate

17.0%

Bachelors

13.8%

Certificate

13.1%

Diploma

6.3%

Masters

1.5%

License

0.4%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Updated May 19, 2020