What Small Engine Mechanics Do
Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment.
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.
The median annual wage for small engine mechanics was $37,840 in May 2019.
Overall employment of small engine mechanics is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Those who have completed postsecondary training programs should have better job prospects.
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.
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.
Small engine mechanics held about 78,100 jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up small engine mechanics was distributed as follows:
|Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics||35,000|
|Motorboat mechanics and service technicians||25,700|
The largest employers of small engine mechanics were as follows:
|Motor vehicle and parts dealers||34%|
|Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores||12|
|Repair and maintenance||11|
|Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries||11|
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.
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.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of small engine mechanics.
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.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Small Engine Mechanics,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/small-engine-mechanics.htm (visited ).