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Small Engine Mechanics - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
The skills needed for small engine repair can transfer to other occupations, such as automobile, diesel, or heavy vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics. Experienced mechanics with leadership ability may advance to shop supervisor or service manager jobs. Mechanics with sales ability sometimes become sales representatives or open their own repair shops or dealerships.

Employment
Small engine mechanics held about 70,400 jobs in 2008. Motorcycle mechanics held around 18,800 jobs, motorboat mechanics held approximately 22,100 jobs, and outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics held about 29,400 jobs. Thirty-seven percent of small engine mechanics worked for motor vehicle and parts dealers, while 13 percent were employed in retail lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores. Nine percent were employed by repair and maintenance shops. Most of the remainder worked in wholesale distributors, equipment rental and leasing companies, and landscaping services. About 13 percent were self-employed, compared to about 7 percent of workers in all installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.

Job Outlook
Average employment growth is projected for small engine mechanics. Job prospects should be excellent for people who complete formal training programs. Use of motorcycles, motorboats, and outdoor power equipment is seasonal in many areas, so mechanics may service other types of equipment or work reduced hours in the winter.

Job Growth
Employment of small engine mechanics is expected to grow by 7 percent between 2008 and 2018, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth will vary by the type of equipment these mechanics repair.

The number of registered motorcycles has increased steadily in recent years, leading to corresponding greater demand for motorcycle repair services. This trend is expected to continue, leading to new opportunities for motorcycle mechanics. Most new jobs will continue to be in the motorcycle dealer industry, as service operations are an important aspect of business for many firms in this industry. The increasing sophistication of motorcycles will create new opportunities for specialists in independent repair shops as well, however. Overall, motorcycle mechanics will grow by 9 percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

By contrast, the number of additional motorboats in use has been limited in recent years. The retail boat industry, the primary employer of repair technicians, has consolidated, creating fewer new opportunities for mechanics. As such, motorboat mechanics are expected to grow by 6 percent, slower than the average for all occupations.

Outdoor equipment mechanics will also grow by 6 percent, also slower than the average. Demand for repair services is expected to rise over time as outdoor machines become more complex. Growth is also projected in the landscaping services industry, which frequently uses small engine equipment that needs regular servicing. Most new jobs in this in this occupation will continue to be in outdoor small engine equipment retail shops.

Job prospects should be excellent for people who complete formal training programs. Employers prefer mechanics that have knowledge of multiple types of engines and emissions-reducing technology as the government increases regulation of the emissions produced by small engines. Many of the job openings for small engine mechanics will result from the need to replace the many experienced small engine mechanics who are expected to transfer to other occupations, retire, or stop working for other reasons.

Earnings
Median wages of motorcycle mechanics were $15.08 an hour in May 2008, as compared to $18.60 for all installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.10 and $19.20. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.76, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $24.27. Median hourly wages in the industry employing the largest number of motorcycle mechanics, other motor vehicle dealers, or retail shops selling vehicles other than cars and trucks, were $15.13.

Median wages of motorboat mechanics were $16.60 an hour in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.31 and $20.68. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.74, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $25.41. Median hourly wages in other motor vehicle dealers, the industry employing the largest number of motorboat mechanics, were $16.48.

Median wages of outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics were $13.91 an hour in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $11.24 and $17.03. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.12, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.40. Median hourly wages in lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores, the industry employing the largest number of outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics, were $13.66.

Small engine mechanics in small shops usually receive few benefits, but those employed in larger shops often receive typical benefits such as paid vacations, sick leave, and health insurance. Some employers also pay for work-related training, provide uniforms, and help mechanics purchase new tools.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Motorcycle Mechanic
A Motorcycle Mechanic usually diagnoses, repairs, overhauls and replaces mechanical and electrical parts that are not working properly. A Motorcycle Mechanic student can expect to become well-versed in Motorcycle engines, exhaust and cooling systems, steering and suspension systems, brakes and wheels, ...more