June 12, 2020

Outboard Engine Technician

If you are interested in powerboats, from small ski boats to high speed boats to fishing boats, you might be interested in becoming and Outboard Engine Technician.

Outboard motors are marine engines that are mounted on the back of a boat. It is a unit with the driveshaft and propeller underwater and the engine above it. As the engine drives and spins the shaft and the propeller thrust is created and the boat moves forward.

Outboard engines have been around for over 100 years and recently the engine technology has advanced so much outboard engines can be more complex than the engine on a Mercedes C class motorcar. Four stroke engines replaced two stroke engines as they have less emissions and recently there are more and more powerful motors being produced. We have also seen the introduction of electric outboard motors recently.

Being interested in engines and how they work is important. You will need to know about how engines are configured, fuel cycles, combustion chambers, air intakes, valves, cranks, flywheels and engine performance. The next step is understanding the water and marine environment for an engine. You will need to know about hydrodynamics and how propellers work and how they work with different shapes and sizes of boats. There’s a lot to learn but being curious about how things work and enjoying boats is a good starting point.

Key tasks:

• Fitting outboard systems.
• Replacing parts.
• Disassembling engines.
• Keeping records of service.
• Diagnosing fuel problems.
• Lubricating outboards.
• Running wiring and control systems.   
• Trouble shooting: inspecting and testing.
• Diagnostics.
• Maintenance and repair.                        

Entry requirements/training:

There are a few formal training courses at NQF Level 4 that would give you good baseline entry skills and the theory to become an outboard technician. These include:

• Occupational Certificate: Small Engine Mechanic (QCTO 98813).
• Occupational Certificate: Motorcycle Mechanic (QCTO 97591).
• Occupational Certificate: Mechanical Fitter (QCTO 94021).
• Occupational Certificate: Fitter and Turner (QCTO 94021).

Alternatively, you could approach an outboard engine Original Equipment Manufacturer (Yamaha, Suzuki, Mercury, Honda) to work as a trainee and, with experience, you will receive engine brand training. This would be the preferred career path as engines are changing and developing all the time and this would help you stay ahead of the industry innovations and competitive brand developments.

Career advancement:

Starting as a trainee mechanic you will work under an experienced technician and you will carry out routine services as well as assist the technician. Over time you will learn on the job and take on more complicated work including diagnostics. Good outboard engine mechanics are in demand in the country, so you can develop a satisfactory career in the marine industry. You can work your way up to supervisory roles, or event work as a sales representative for an engine OEM. There is also scope to eventually open your own business to service and repair outboards. Usually, these kinds of business also sell boats that the engines are used on.

Associated job opportunities:

Having knowledge of petrol engines, you could extend your skills into lawn mower repairs, or cross skill to become a car mechanic. You could work with chainsaws and motorbikes or explore other jobs where fitting and turning and engine knowledge would be valued.