Small engine mechanics are responsible for repairing and servicing power equipment that can range from chainsaws to jet skis. These types of mechanics typically specialize in one particular type of equipment like motorboats, motorcycles or outdoor power equipment. Mechanics utilize a variety of techniques in order to diagnose the source of the problem.
Many small engine repair jobs require or strongly prefer candidates with a certificate in engine repair or a related field. Check out the programs below which offer free information:
Small Engine Repair and Mechanics Job Responsibilities
A thorough knowledge of the operation of the equipment as well as problem-solving abilities are crucial to this career. While some jobs may require a simple adjustment, others may involve a complete engine overhaul, which could take hours. Mechanics that are highly skilled may use specialized equipment and components as well as computerized equipment in order to customize engines for racing.
Hand-tools may also be used by mechanics, including screwdrivers, pliers and wrenches. In most instances, mechanics will supply their own tools, although in some cases employers will provide powers tools, diagnostic equipment and computerized engine analyzers. Once the mechanic has pinpointed the problem, the mechanic will then be able to make necessary adjustments, replacements or repairs.
Periodic service may also be required to help reduce the chance of breakdowns as well as to ensure that small engines are kept running at optimal performance. Mechanics typically follow a checklist that will include the inspection as well as the cleaning of the breaks, fuel injection systems, electrical systems, carburetors, plugs and other parts. After inspection, mechanics typically adjust or repair parts that are not working correctly.
There are different types of small engine mechanics who may specialize in specific types of engines. Motorcycle mechanics may choose to specialize in the overhaul and repair of motorcycles, mopeds, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes. Beyond repairing engines they usually also work on brakes, transmissions and ignition systems in addition to making minor body repairs. Mechanics usually also service only a few particular types of motorcycles makes and models due to the fact that many work for dealers that only service the specific types of products they sell.
Marinee equipment and motorboat mechanics adjust and repair the mechanical and electrical equipment of outboard and inboard boat engines. The majority of small boats have outboard engines that are portable and can be removed and actually brought into the shop for repair. Larger watercraft such as commercial fishing boats and cabin cruisers are powered by gasoline or diesel inboard-outboard or inboard engines, which will only be removed for major overhauls. Due to this fact most such repairs will be performed at marinas or docks. Motorboat mechanics may also work on steering mechanisms, marine plumbing, propellers or other types of boat equipment.
Outdoor power equipment mechanics repair and service outdoor power equipment like garden tractors, lawnmowers, chain saws and edge trimmers. They may also sometimes work on go-carts and portable generators or in some cases snowmobiles and snowblowers. The demand for this kind of work is usually seasonal.
Small engine mechanics typically work in ventilated and well lit repair shops, but the work environment can often be noisy. They may also need to work in outdoors in inclimate weather, depending on the type of specific work they do. In order to reach a boat’s engine, it may be necessary to work in awkward or cramped positions.
Due to the seasonal nature of some work, mechanics may work less than 40 hours per week in some parts of the country. During busy spring and summer months, they may work full time or even more than 40 hours per week.
Small Engine Repair and Mechanics Training and Education Requirements
Employers usually prefer mechanics that have completed a formal training program due to the complexity of many small engines. Many mechanics may still learn their skills while on the job as the number of specialized training programs is limited. Trainees may learn service tasks while working under an experienced mechanic. With proficiency and experience they may then progress to more complex tasks. Several months to three years of on-the-job training may be required before a trainee can become competent in every aspect of small engine repair. In some cases an employer will send mechanics to courses that are conducted by manufacturers of motorcycles, outdoor power equipment or motorboats in order to upgrade their skills. These courses usually last up to two weeks.
In order to advance or transfer to other occupations including mobile equipment, heavy equipment, diesel or auto repair, mechanics must obtain additional specific skills. Those with leadership skills may advance to service manager or supervisor jobs. Mechanics that have sales skills may sometimes choose to open their own mechanic shops or become sales representatives.
Small Engine Repair and Mechanics Salary and Wages
In 2008 the median wages for motorcycle mechanics were $15.08 per hour. The median wages for motorboat mechanics were $16.60 per hour while the median wages for small engine mechanics and outdoor power equipment mechanics were $13.91 per hour.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Small Engine Repair and Mechanics Certifications
Certifications may or may not be necessary, depending upon the preference of the employer. Due to the complex nature of many small engines an increasing number of employers are now requiring mechanics to graduate from an approved training program as well as receive continuing education.
Small Engine Repair and Mechanics Professional Associations
Professional associations for mechanics include the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.