Is boat mechanic a good career? Although automobiles and aircrafts are today the most popular means of transport in modern times, the importance of boats and subsequently boat mechanics cannot be overemphasised.
Boats today remain one of the most popular vehicles to permanently live in, while also remaining the number one preference for oversea trading and freight.
In this article, we will discuss everything about marine mechanics, including how to become a boat mechanic in 2021.
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What is a Boat Mechanic?
A boat mechanic (technically a marine mechanic or marine technician) is responsible for routine maintenance, fault diagnosis and repair on boats. They predominantly deal with pleasure sailing boats as well as large motor vessels, and even boats such as jet skis.
The boat mechanic is able to intervene on all boats, whether they are fishing boats, pleasure boats or large merchant navy boats. They ensure the proper functioning of the vessel as well as adjust and check the machines.
What Does a Boat Mechanic Do?
The activities of a boat mechanic can vary depending on the size of the vessel.
- Marine mechanics provide routine maintenance and repair the engine as well as ancillary equipment such as winches, pulleys, boilers, etc., of a boat.
- The boat mechanic must logically be able to move the boats, or even perform manoeuvres.
- A fishing boat mechanic may be called upon to participate in fishing operations, while a mechanic on board a large vessel performs specific tasks under the command of a chief engineer. Like all sailors, marine mechanics work in a stressful environment (noise, heat, cramped premises).
- Some mechanics stay on the ground. In this case, they generally work on a construction or ship repair site, or on a boat left at the dock.
- Boat mechanics work in various sectors: maritime fishing, merchant marine, national navy, naval or nautical industry, passenger transport.
- The boat mechanic can also manage the installation of gear and all equipment dedicated to maneuvering.
How to Become a Boat Mechanic?
Becoming a boat mechanic entails knowing the basics of how a boat functions which in turn means understanding the device (motor) that produces the movement, transmits it or transforms it.
A marine mechanic should therefore have ample knowledge on the essentials in the upkeep and maintenance of the propulsion system.
Before becoming a boat mechanic, here are the most important parts of a boat you need to know about.
All boats are made up of the same main elements:
- the float (hull and deck),
- the steering system, and
- the propulsion system, the latter falling into three categories.
Boat Mechanic Career
The job opportunities of boat mechanics are quite numerous and spread across different sectors.
These mechanics can work in the:
- National navy,
- artisanal or industrial fishing,
- merchant marine,
- passenger transport,
- nautical or naval industry,
- trade and ship repair.
In the National Navy as well as fishing or merchant navy, career development prospects are important.
What makes boat mechanics an interesting proposition is that there are job opportunities in both the army and also in the civilian world, where one can progress in the hierarchy by passing various certificates and patents through continual training: shift supervisor, lieutenant mechanic, second engineer, chief engineer.
After advancing to a certain stage you can decide to set up your own ship repair yard.
Boat Mechanic Salary
The beginner’s salary of a boat mechanic is extremely variable. The income will usually begin at the minimum wage and can be as high as up to €3000 or $5,000 per month.
Boat Mechanic Working Condition
Marine mechanics can be distinguished between those who stay ashore and on-board engineers.
In the first case, they work in:
- a ship repair yard,
- a ship or nautical construction site,
- on a boat at the quay,
- or in a dry dock.
In the second, they embark on vessels of various sizes.
Boat Mechanics at Sea
At sea, boat mechanics are faced with several working scenarios.
Some leave for the day (inshore fishing), while others spend several weeks or even several months at sea.
Working conditions for a boat mechanic can be trying and sometimes dangerous. As for the living conditions on board, they generally offer little comfort.
Boat Mechanic Working Hours
For boat mechanics, the schedules are rather regular on land. Conversely, they can be very irregular at sea.
Boat Mechanic Skills
To be successful as a boat mechanic, one is required to possess the following skills:
A Rugged Physique
The job often requires strength and very good physical condition. Marine mechanics will often have to work in cold and humidity.
Boat mechanics have to frequently lift loads and must also learn to tolerate the constant noise of machines.
Rigor and Methodology
Sometimes the pace of work can be overwhelming, so mental strength is essential. On-board boat mechanics will regularly feel sea or home sickness.
Also, nothing is possible without a certain rigor, logic and methodology to diagnose a failure and repair it.
A Spirit of Solidarity
On board a ship, a sense of teamwork, solidarity, respect for safety and community living rules are essential.
How to Become A Boat Mechanic
This job is accessible after specific trainings and obtaining a diploma in mechanics, automobile or industrial vehicles.
Although vocational training can be undergone to get professional experience, most institutions would rather employ boat mechanics with academic credentials.
To optimize his training, the boat mechanic can obtain government approved certifications like Certificates of Aptitude for Safe Driving (CACES) as well as an authorization for “risks of electrical origin” in a region like Europe for example.
This authorization have to be approved by a doctor and must be regularly renewed. All repairs must be carried out in compliance with regulations and safety rules.
If the boat mechanic has to work aboard the ship, then they would have to join the crew. To join the crew means acquiring the Nautical Initiation Certificate.
Boat Mechanic Schools
Here are 13 of the best boat mechanic schools that offer programs and courses in marine mechanics:
- New England Institute of Technology
- University of Alaska
- Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
- William T McFatter Technical College
- Tom P Haney Technical Center
- The Landing School
- State Fair Community College
- South Central Louisiana Technical College-Young Memorial Campus
- Skagit Valley College
- Sarasota County Technical Institute
- J-Tech Institute
- Automotive Training Center
- Marine Mechanics Institute
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