Marine Services Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a high school diploma. If you are interested in this work, take mathematics classes and shop classes in metals, woodworking, and electronics while you are in high school. These classes will give you experience completing detailed and precise work. In shop classes, you'll also learn how to use a variety of tools and read blueprints. Take computer classes; you will probably be using this tool throughout your career for such things as diagnostic and design work. Science classes, such as physics, will also be beneficial to you. Finally, don't forget to take English classes. These classes will help you hone your reading and research skills, which will be needed when you consult technical manuals for repair and maintenance information throughout your career.

Postsecondary Training

Many marine services technicians learn their trade on the job. They find entry-level positions as general boatyard workers, doing such jobs as cleaning boat bottoms, and work their way into the position of service technician. Or they may be hired as trainees. They learn how to perform typical service tasks under the supervision of experienced mechanics and gradually complete more difficult work. The training period may last for about three years.

Other technicians decide to get more formal training and attend vocational or technical colleges for classes in engine repair, electronics, and fiberglass work. Some schools, such as Cape Fear Community College in N.C. and Washington County Community College in Maine, have programs specifically for marine technicians. These schools often offer an associate's degree in areas such as applied science. Classes students take may include mathematics, physics, electricity, schematic reading, and circuit theory. Boat manufacturers and other types of institutions, such as the American Boat Builders and Repairers Association, Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, and the WoodenBoat School, offer skills training through less formal courses and seminars that often last several days or a few weeks. The military services can also provide training in electronics.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Those who test and repair marine radio transmitting equipment must have a general radio-telephone operator license from the Federal Communications Commission  (https://www.fcc.gov).

Certification for technicians in the marine electronics industry is voluntary. The National Marine Electronics Association offers the marine electronics installer and the certified marine electronics technician designations. It also offer an advanced marine electronics installer certificate. Contact these association for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Previous experience as a general boatyard worker will be useful for aspiring marine services technicians. Most technicians work outdoors some of the time, and they are often required to test-drive the vessels they work on. This is considered an added benefit by many workers. Some workers in this field maintain that one of the most important qualities for a technician is a pleasant personality. Boat owners are often very proud of and attached to their vessels, so workers need to have both respect and authority when communicating with customers.

Technicians also need to be able to adapt to the cyclical nature of this business. They are often under a lot of pressure in the summer months, when most boat owners are enjoying the water and calling on technicians for service. On the other hand, they often have gaps in their work during the winter; some workers receive unemployment compensation at this time.

Motorboat technicians' work can sometimes be physically demanding, requiring them to lift heavy outboard motors or other components. Electronics technicians, on the other hand, must be able to work with delicate parts, such as wires and circuit boards. They should have good eyesight, color vision, and good hearing (to listen for malfunctions revealed by sound).

Some marine services technicians may be required to provide their own hand tools. These tools are usually acquired over a period of time, but the collection may cost the mechanic hundreds if not thousands of dollars.