Summary

small engine mechanics image
Small engine mechanics test and inspect engines for malfunctioning parts.
Quick Facts: Small Engine Mechanics
2016 Median Pay $35,280 per year
$16.96 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 79,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 4,700

What Small Engine Mechanics Do

Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment. Mechanics often specialize in one type of equipment, such as motorcycles, motorboats, or outdoor power equipment.

Work Environment

Small engine mechanics generally work in well-ventilated but noisy repair shops. They sometimes make onsite repair calls, which may require working in poor weather conditions. Although most work full time, seasonal workers often see their hours fluctuate. Workers frequently are busiest during the spring and summer, when equipment use is the highest.

How to Become a Small Engine Mechanic

Small engine mechanics typically enter the occupation with a high school diploma or postsecondary nondegree award and learn their trade through on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for small engine mechanics was $35,280 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of small engine mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Those who completed postsecondary training programs should have better job prospects.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for small engine mechanics.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of small engine mechanics with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about small engine mechanics by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Small Engine Mechanics Do About this section

Small engine mechanics
Motorcycle mechanics specialize in working on motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles.

Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment. Mechanics often specialize in one type of equipment, such as motorcycles, motorboats, or outdoor power equipment.

Duties

Small engine mechanics typically do the following:

  • Discuss equipment issues, maintenance plans, and work performed with customers
  • Perform routine engine maintenance, such as lubricating parts and replacing spark plugs
  • Test and inspect engines for malfunctioning parts
  • Adjust components according to specifications
  • Repair or replace worn, defective, or broken parts
  • Reassemble and reinstall components and engines following repairs
  • Keep records of inspections, test results, work performed, and parts used

Small engine mechanics work on power equipment ranging from snowmobiles to chain saws. When equipment breaks down, mechanics use many strategies to diagnose the source and extent of the problem. Small engine mechanics identify mechanical, electrical, and fuel system problems and make necessary repairs.

Mechanics’ tasks vary in complexity and difficulty. Maintenance inspections and repairs, for example, involve minor adjustments or the replacement of a single part. Hand calibration, piston calibration, and spark plug replacement, however, may require taking an engine apart completely. Some mechanics use computerized equipment to tune racing motorcycles and motorboats.

Mechanics use a variety of hand tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers, for many common tasks. Some mechanics also may use compression gauges, ammeters, and voltmeters to test engine performance. For more complicated procedures, they commonly use pneumatic tools, which are powered by compressed air, or diagnostic equipment.

Although employers usually provide the more expensive tools and testing equipment, some mechanics may be required to use their own hand tools. Some mechanics have thousands of dollars invested in their tool collections.

The following are examples of types of small engine mechanics:

Motorboat mechanics and service technicians maintain and repair the mechanical and electrical components of boat engines. Most of their work, whether on small outboard engines or large diesel-powered inboard motors, is performed at docks and marinas where the repair shop is located. Motorboat mechanics also may work on propellers, steering mechanisms, marine plumbing, and other boat equipment.

Motorcycle mechanics specialize in working on motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles. They service engines, transmissions, brakes, and ignition systems and make minor body repairs, among other tasks. Most work for dealerships, servicing and repairing specific makes and models.

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics service and repair outdoor power equipment, such as lawnmowers, edge trimmers, garden tractors, and portable generators. Some mechanics may work on snowblowers and snowmobiles, but this work is highly seasonal and regional.

Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles are described in the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

Technicians who work primarily on large trucks and buses are described in the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and rail cars are described in the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

Work Environment About this section

Small engine mechanics
Motorboat mechanics and service technicians maintain and repair the mechanical and electrical components of boat engines.

Small engine mechanics held about 79,300 jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up small engine mechanics was distributed as follows:

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics 37,600
Motorboat mechanics and service technicians 23,400
Motorcycle mechanics 18,300

The largest employers of small engine mechanics were as follows:

Motor vehicle and parts dealers 30%
Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores 14
Self-employed workers 12
Repair and maintenance 11
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries 10

Small engine mechanics generally work in well-ventilated but noisy repair shops. They sometimes make onsite repair calls, which may require working in poor weather conditions. When repairing onboard engines, motorboat mechanics may work in cramped and uncomfortable positions.

Work Schedules

Most small engine mechanics work full time, although seasonal workers often see their work hours fluctuate.

Most mechanics are busiest during the spring and summer, when demand for work on equipment from lawnmowers to motorboats is the highest. During the peak seasons, some mechanics work many overtime hours. In contrast, some may work only part time during the winter, when demand for small engine work is lowest.

Many employers try to keep work more consistent by scheduling major repair work, such as rebuilding engines, during the off-season.

How to Become a Small Engine Mechanic About this section

Small engine mechanics
Many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools, require a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Small engine mechanics typically enter the occupation with a high school diploma or postsecondary nondegree award and learn their trade through on-the-job training.

Education

Motorboat and outdoor power equipment mechanics typically begin work with a high school diploma and learn on the job, although some of them seek postsecondary education. High school or vocational school courses in small engine repair and automobile mechanics are often beneficial.

Motorcycle mechanics typically complete postsecondary education programs in motorcycle repair, and employers prefer to hire these workers because they usually require less on-the-job training.

Training

Trainees work closely with experienced mechanics while learning basic tasks, such as replacing spark plugs or disassembling engine components. As they gain experience, trainees move on to more difficult tasks, such as advanced computerized diagnosis and engine overhauls. Achieving competency may take anywhere from several months to 3 years, depending on a mechanic’s specialization and ability.

Because of the increased complexity of boat and motorcycle engines, motorcycle and motorboat mechanics who do not complete postsecondary education often need more on-the-job training than that needed by outdoor power equipment mechanics.

Employers frequently send mechanics to training courses run by motorcycle, motorboat, and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and dealers. These courses teach mechanics the most up-to-date technology and techniques. Often, such courses are a prerequisite to performing warranty and manufacturer-specific work.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many motorboat and motorcycle manufacturers offer certification specific to their own models, and certification from the Equipment & Engine Training Council is the recognized industry credential for outdoor power equipment mechanics. Although not required, certification can demonstrate a mechanic’s competence and usually brings higher pay.

Motorcycle mechanics usually need a driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Small engine mechanics frequently discuss problems and necessary repairs with their customers. They must be courteous, be good listeners, and always remain ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Small engine mechanics must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing engines and components, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments and other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Small engine mechanics need a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination for many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools.

Mechanical skills. Small engine mechanics must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often disassemble major parts for repairs, and they must be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Small engine mechanics keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability for parts.

Troubleshooting skills. Small engine mechanics use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components to identify and fix problems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

Pay About this section

Small Engine Mechanics

Median annual wages, May 2016

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

$40,930

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Small engine mechanics

$35,280

 

The median annual wage for small engine mechanics was $35,280 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,750.

Median annual wages for small engine mechanics in May 2016 were as follows:

Motorboat mechanics and service technicians $38,780
Motorcycle mechanics 34,720
Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics 33,730

In May 2016, the median annual wages for small engine mechanics in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries $37,600
Motor vehicle and parts dealers 35,950
Repair and maintenance 33,960
Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores 32,260

Most small engine mechanics work full time, although seasonal workers often see their work hours fluctuate.

Most mechanics are busiest during the spring and summer, when demand for work on equipment from lawnmowers to boats is the highest. During the peak seasons, some mechanics work many overtime hours. In contrast, some mechanics may work only part time during the winter, when demand for small engine work is lowest.

Many employers try to keep work more consistent by scheduling major repair work, such as rebuilding engines, during the off-season.

Job Outlook About this section

Small Engine Mechanics

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

7%

Small engine mechanics

6%

 

Overall employment of small engine mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth rates will vary by occupation.

Boat engines, as well as engines and parts for outdoor power equipment, have become more sophisticated and efficient. The maintenance and repair of these engines and parts will demand workers to perform these services.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be best for candidates who have completed postsecondary training programs.

Employment projections data for small engine mechanics, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Small engine mechanics

49-3050 79,300 84,000 6 4,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

Motorboat mechanics and service technicians

49-3051 23,400 23,500 1 100 employment projections excel document xlsx

Motorcycle mechanics

49-3052 18,300 18,600 1 300 employment projections excel document xlsx

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics

49-3053 37,600 41,900 11 4,300 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of small engine mechanics.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Postsecondary nondegree award $38,470
Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians (also known as diesel technicians) and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.

High school diploma or equivalent $45,170
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, also called mechanics, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries.

High school diploma or equivalent $47,690

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information on motorboat mechanics and training programs, visit

Association of Marine Technicians

For more information on outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics and training programs, visit

Equipment & Engine Training Council

To learn about job opportunities for small engine mechanics, contact local motorcycle, motorboat, and lawn and garden equipment dealers; boatyards; and marinas. Local offices of the state employment service also may have information about employment and training opportunities.

O*NET

Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians

Motorcycle Mechanics

Outdoor Power Equipment and Other Small Engine Mechanics

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Small Engine Mechanics,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/small-engine-mechanics.htm (visited November 01, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

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How to Become One

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Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.