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Small Engine Repair School: Is It Right for You?

If you like tinkering with power equipment or taking things apart just to put them back together again, a career in small engine repair may be right for you. Training at a small engine repair school can help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to find employment and enjoy a long, lucrative career in mechanics. This article outlines the duties and responsibilities of small engine mechanics, as well as what you can expect from a small engine repair training program.

Responsibilities

A typical work day for a small engine mechanic can involve any of the following tasks:

  • Consulting with customers regarding equipment problems, maintenance plans and necessary work
  • Inspecting and testing engines for any malfunctioning parts
  • Replacing and/or repairing worn, damaged, broken or defective parts
  • Performing regular maintenance, including lubrication and cleaning
  • Adjusting parts to desired specifications
  • Reassembling and reinstalling parts that were removed for repairs and maintenance
  • Maintaining records of services performed, tests results, inspections and parts used

Small engine mechanics work on everything from motorcycles and boats to lawnmowers and chainsaws. Here are some common areas of expertise:

Motorcycles

Motorcycle mechanics don’t only work on motorcycles; they are also often trained to repair dirt bikes, mopeds, scooters and all-terrain vehicles. These mechanics usually find employment at dealerships that specialize in certain makes and models.

Outdoor Equipment

Some small engine mechanics specialize in outdoor power equipment. Serviced items include garden tractors, lawnmowers, edge trimmers, snowmobiles, snow blowers and generators.

Motorboats

Motorboat mechanics, naturally, work on boats. Their work is often performed at docks and marinas where boats are stored. They also work in boat shops servicing propellers, plumbing systems, steering systems and other related boat parts.

Small engine mechanics perform both big and small jobs. One client may need a simple part replacement or readjustment. Another client may need hand calibration or spark plug replacement, jobs that require complete disassembly of the engine to perform correctly.

boat engine

Small engine mechanics use a wide range of tools. Simple tools like wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers are used to perform less complicated repairs. More involved tasks may require the use of diagnostic equipment or pneumatic tools, which use compressed air. Engine testing is often performed using voltmeters, ammeters, and compression gauges. Computerized equipment is sometimes necessary to adequately calibrate parts.

Education and Training

training session

Those wishing to pursue a career as a small engine mechanic must complete the necessary training. A poorly constructed engine can cause great harm to a customer, and a misunderstanding of equipment can cause on-the-job accidents. It is imperative that workers have a thorough understanding of this trade before embarking on a career. Many small engine repair schools have close relationships with equipment manufacturers so that the addressed material is up-to-date and accurate. 

Students learn about the latest in technology so that they are well-prepared to service the most recent models. This training makes them especially attractive to future employers. Enrolling in a small engine repair school is a great way to prepare for a job in this field.

Small engine repair schools most often take just a few months to two years to complete. They offer a combination of hands-on training and classroom instruction. They also help students prepare for any licensing exams they may need to pass before seeking employment. Prospective employers may be more likely to hire a worker who has completed small engine repair school, as a certificate of completion demonstrates skill and knowledge.

These schools help you develop many skills you need to be successful in the workforce.

Attention to Detail

Some engine malfunctions are due to tiny misalignments and other hard-to-notice issues. Students learn to pay attention to details that may seem small but can cause large problems.

binoculars

Dexterity

Excellent hand-eye coordination and steady hands are required to perform certain tasks. When using hand tools, taking apart engines, or attaching new components, dexterity can help mechanics perform their duties safely and efficiently.

Troubleshooting

Some problems may be difficult to identify at first. Other issues may not have obvious solutions. Students in small engine repair school learn to use diagnostic tools to catch problems and find the best fixes.

troubleshooting

Customer Service Skills

Most small engine mechanics need to discuss issues and repair plans with their clients. In school, they learn to be good listeners, remain courteous and communicate service plans and costs. This skill is especially important for those who wish to open their own businesses one day.

man holding car key

Organizational Skills

When working with power equipment, it is imperative that workspaces are kept neat and clean. Clutter can pose a danger to both workers and customers. This is another skill that is key for business owners; owners are responsible for keeping track of parts and equipment, managing budgets and creating employee schedules. These are all tasks that require good organizational skills.

Mechanical Skills

Small engine repair schools teach students the ins and outs of engine components and engine systems. They finish their training with a comprehensive understanding of how different parts work together.

mechanical cogs

Job Prospects

welder working

The job market for small engine mechanics is expected to expand in the next several years. According to the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry will likely grow by five percent between 2016 and 2026. As boat, motorcycle and outdoor power equipment engines increasingly become more sophisticated in design, they will require skilled experts to carry out repairs and maintenance. Those who have completed small engine repair school are more likely to find lucrative employment in the field. The median income for a small engine mechanic is currently $35,990.

Work Environment

Small engine mechanics tend to work in noisy shops that are well-ventilated for safety and comfort. Some mechanics, like those working on boats, may perform their work on-site rather than in a shop. They may spend large portions of their days outdoors, sometimes in inclement weather. Jobs in this field are typically full-time, but those working in certain areas of the country or specializing in outdoor equipment may find less work during colder months. If you are self-employed, you have the flexibility to set your own hours.

work environment of mechanic

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, vehicle and parts dealers are the largest employers of small engine mechanics. 30% of these mechanics work for dealerships. An additional 14% work for lawn and garden equipment shops, 11% work for repair and maintenance shops and 10% work for entertainment companies like amusement parks and casinos. 12% of small engine mechanics are self-employed. Most workers in the field are trained on outdoor power equipment, followed by motorboats and then motorcycles.

Similar Programs

Schools that offer courses in small engine repair often teach a variety of other disciplines. Here are a few other occupations to explore if you are interested in mechanics.

  • Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Technicians

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment technicians repair and maintain machinery and vehicles used in the farming, rail transportation and construction industries. Employment for these laborers is predicted to grow by eight percent by 2026. Median income is $49,440 per year.

  • Automotive Mechanics

Automotive mechanics service cars, light trucks and other vehicles for personal transportation. Employment in this field is expected to grow by six percent between 2016 and 2026. Median income is $39,550 per year.

  • Diesel Mechanics

Diesel mechanics work on large vehicles that run on diesel, including trucks and buses. Employment for these mechanics is expected to grow by nine percent between 2016 and 2026. Median income is $36,360 per year.  

Why Attend a Trade School

One reason to attend a trade school is the hands-on experience you receive in your classes. By the time you have completed your program, you already have a working knowledge of the duties you will be expected to perform on the job. You can hit the ground running as soon as you find employment.

With a trade school, you don’t have to wait long to enroll. New programs start throughout the year, so you can begin your training whenever your schedule allows.

Trade schools typically have small class sizes, which means you get extra attention from each of your instructors. You also get to know your fellow classmates. As networking is increasingly necessary to land employment, it can only benefit you to build relationships with others who are pursuing similar careers.

Finally, as a student in a vocational program, you will focus only on the material you need to be successful in your field. There are no extraneous core classes that cost extra money and don’t have any relevance to your future employment. Trade school programs equip you with the practical knowledge and skills you need to get hired and begin earning money.

If you have a mechanical mind and enjoy working with your hands, consider enrolling in a small engine repair school. You may soon be on your way to a fun and rewarding career.

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