Marine Mechanic Career Outlook, Salary And Schools

The Marine Mechanic Career In Detail

Becoming a Marine Mechanic or Naval Engineer

The shipping and boating industry is a vital part of America’s commercial transport infrastructure. In addition, a vast number of individuals own or rent private pleasure boats for travel, fishing or sports-related activities.

For this reason, there are a wide range of professional opportunities available to those individuals who are interested in becoming marine engine mechanics or naval engineers.

In fact, this career area is an excellent choice for someone who desires to work with marine craft while also enjoying a well-compensated career.

Ships and Boats in America

Currently, America has a large number of privately owned vessels, ranging from small recreational craft to large oceanic freighters and tankers.

marine mechanics careerAll of these marine craft require effective maintenance in order to ensure that they are capable of safely carrying out their planned missions. For this reason, the field of marine engineering is steadily growing across America.

Whether a marine engineer works in a small garage set off from a recreational lake or is the primary navel engineer on a 100,000 ton cargo ship, he or she is a vital part of keeping the ship or boat operating in a safe and effective matter.

Recreational Craft

Recreational craft are some of the most common craft currently seen on America’s waterways. Ranging from small fishing boats to very large yachts, these craft are commonly owned by individuals who use local marine mechanics to maintain and repair their property.

In other cases, these vessels may be rented out to others on a short or long-term basis, with their actual owner being responsible for any needed repair or maintenance.

In most cases, marine mechanics who work on recreational craft remain ashore at a fixed garage rather than serving as a crewmember. The engines used by recreational craft can vary dramatically. For this reason, many maritime repair technicians must have training in how to maintain numerous different types of engines.

For example, a jet ski will require training in how to handle small engine technology; conversely, a large private fishing boat will require a marine mechanic who is trained in repairing large diesel engines.

Commercial Shipping Craft

Commercial shipping generally involves much larger vessels than the typical recreational craft. In most cases, a commercial ship will require a marine mechanic to work on board the craft.

Especially on larger cargo ships, this position is often reserved for a qualified ship’s engineer. In addition, there will normally be more than one qualified ship’s engineer and marine mechanic on a larger ship in order to ensure that the engine room is under the observation of a qualified crewperson at all times.

In most cases, the crew will live on the ship during its period of operation, rather than commute to and from the ship. Ships that travel to foreign ports may spend weeks or months away from the United States. For this reason, individuals with family obligations should carefully consider their personal situation before pursuing this career.

Finally, in addition to their training as marine mechanics, crewmen on a large commercial ship must satisfy other training requirements. In some cases, these training requirements are mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), while in other cases they are a result of company policy.

Individuals considering this field should contact their desired employer and the DOT to determine what types of training they will require in order to become a qualified crewman. For example, an individual seeking to become an engineer on a merchant ship must obtain a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) before starting work in this field.

Job Options for Marine Mechanics and Naval Engineers

Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not directly track all the individuals who work with marine ships as a single group. However, the BLS estimates that naval engineers and naval architects are expected to see their overall employment increase by at least 10 percent between 2012 and 2022. In addition, many other professional fields such as small engine mechanics are also commonly involved with the repair of maritime engines.

Employment for marine mechanics can vary widely depending on their location. Coastal states generally have a higher demand for marine mechanics, especially in those states that have extensive commercial shipping activity. However, even landlocked states have rivers, public lakes and other facilities that attract recreational boating activity. For that reason, nearly every state in America has some demand for qualified marine mechanics.

Becoming a Marine Mechanic

Due to the flexible nature of this field, there are a wide range of educational paths available to those individuals who wish to become a marine mechanic. In general, individuals seeking a position with a commercial firm will have to seek out a more formal educational process while those individuals seeking to work with privately owned craft will find obtaining an education somewhat easier.

Marine Repair Technicians

Marine repair technicians and mechanics work on a wide range of privately owned boats and watercraft. For this reason, they must have a wide-ranging understanding of the field of marine engine technology. In many cases, a marine mechanic will learn his or her trade through hands on training while working at a marine repair shop.

Although slower than a formal course of education, this path allows the mechanic to receive a salary during his or her training. In addition, these individuals do not have to worry about seeking out employment after their training is complete.

Formal training programs for marine mechanics generally focus on common marine and small engine technology repair techniques. In addition, these programs assist the student in learning about the unique challenges facing marine mechanics.

For example, unlike ground-based engines, a waterborne engine must be frequently checked for corrosion. In addition, during regular maintenance checks the drive shaft to the propeller must be checked to ensure that it is not leaking.

These programs are offered by a variety of community colleges and vocational schools. Depending on the program’s organization, it can vary widely in terms of the program’s length. A community college program will generally take about two years for a full-time student to complete. These programs generally confer an associate’s degree (A.A.) or the equivalent upon graduation.

Vocational programs or those programs that are more focused on a single aspect of marine repair technology may take a shorter period of time to complete. In addition, they generally confer a certificate of completion upon the successful graduate.

Finally, some programs offer part-time and online options for those students who cannot attend regularly scheduled classes. This can be especially beneficial to individuals who have limited time due to their current job or family obligations. Online programs eliminate the need to travel to the school in order to physically attend class. This can be very important for those students who live inconveniently far from the school campus.

Currently, marine mechanics are not licensed by state or federal agencies as mechanics.

However, many employers will prefer to hire individuals who can document their work experience and formal training in this field. For this reason, completing a formal program of study can dramatically improve an individual’s job prospects.

Naval Engineers

Most naval engineers work either at shore or as a part of a vessel’s crew. This field requires a high degree of professional education and experience. In general, a marine engineer must have the following qualifications:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Common bachelor’s degrees used by naval engineers include marine systems engineering, electrical engineering or naval architecture. These degrees require a high degree of engineering and mathematical knowledge.
  • Obtain a mariner’s license from the United States Coast Guard. This license requires the candidate to successfully pass an examination for his or her 3rd Assistant License. As the naval engineer obtains more experience, he or she may attempt to obtain a 2nd and 1st Assistant License.

Becoming a naval engineer requires a far greater educational investment than becoming a marine mechanic does. However, this field has excellent compensation levels.

The BLS estimates that the annual median wage for naval engineers is over $88,000 and that the best-compensated engineers in the United States can earn an annual salary of well over $100,000.

Choosing a Career

When deciding what career to choose, the individual should consider his or her own life goals. Becoming a navel engineer is a long-term commitment that requires a substantial monetary investment. Furthermore, this career requires someone who is comfortable working with high-level math and engineering problems. For that reason, this career may not be appropriate for all individuals.

The marine mechanic may be more appropriate for individuals who enjoy working with their hands and interacting with their customers on a regular basis. In addition, marine mechanics can also work on cars, motorcycles and other vehicles, which can increase their flexibility when seeking employment. Finally, due to the lower cost of obtaining training as a marine mechanic this field is accessible to those individuals who have limited financial resources.

Ultimately, individual who are interested in working with nautical engines can find a great deal of job satisfaction no matter what field they choose. Both naval engineers and marine mechanics work in a field that is vital to maintaining America’s waterborne infrastructure. In addition, the compensation offered by both of these fields is highly competitive with other career choices. This makes becoming a marine mechanic or navel engineer an excellent choice for those individual’s who wish to enjoy a well-compensated and dependable career.

Marine Mechanic Training

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