Approximately 22,280 motorboat mechanics and service technicians work in the United States. Marine services technicians are employed by boat retailers, boat repair shops, boat engine manufacturers, boat rental firms, resorts, and marinas. The largest marinas are in coastal areas, such as in Florida, New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Louisiana; smaller ones are located near lakes and water recreation facilities such as campgrounds. Manufacturers of large fishing vessels also employ technicians for on-site mechanical support at fishing sites and competitive events. These workers often follow professionals on the fishing circuit, traveling from tournament to tournament maintaining the vessels.
A large percentage of technicians get their start by working as general boatyard laborers—cleaning boats, cutting grass, painting, and so on. After showing interest and ability, they can begin to work with experienced technicians and learn skills on the job. Some professional organizations, such as Marine Trades Association of New Jersey and Michigan Boating Industries Association, offer scholarships for those interested in marine technician training.
Technicians who have attended vocational or technical colleges may learn about prospective employers and job openings through their school's career services office.
Many marine services technicians consider management and supervisory positions as job goals. After working for a number of years on actual repairs and maintenance, they like to manage repair shops, supervise other workers, and deal with customers more directly. These positions require less physical labor but more communication and management skills. Many workers like to combine both aspects by becoming self-employed; they may have their own shops, attract their own jobs, and still get to do the technical work they enjoy.
Advancement often depends on an individual's interests. Some technicians become marina managers, manufacturers' salespersons, or field representatives. Others take a different direction and work as boat brokers, selling boats. Marine appraisers verify the condition and value of boats; they are independent contractors hired by insurance companies and lending institutions such as banks.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
To learn more about the field, read trade magazines, such as:
Be willing to relocate. Technicians who work in warmer climates where boats are used year round often have better job prospects.
Learn firsthand what's involved in this type of work by volunteering or working part-time as an assistant to a marine services technician in a boatyard or marina near you.