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How to Train to Become a Personal Watercraft Mechanic

Oct 9, 2020 ·
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The career path of a Jet Ski mechanic can be an exciting one. If you have an eye for detail and a passion for water sports, this may be the perfect career for you.

Becoming a Jet Ski mechanic requires a certain set of skills. These can often be obtained through a marine or motorcycle training program. This is a very hands-on career, so in addition to learning key concepts about Jet Skis and how they work, it’s important to gain real-world experience by working on these engines yourself.

Keep reading to learn all about the career of a Jet Ski mechanic — the requirements, day-to-day responsibilities, salary outlook and more.1

What Is a Jet Ski?

Before describing how to become a jet ski mechanic, let’s start with some definitions.

“Jet Ski” is a Kawasaki specific branded term used for their personal watercraft. While Jet Skis are Kawasaki specific, the term is widely adopted to describe small watercraft in which the rider sits on top, similar to a motorcycle. Kawasaki sells both seated and stand-up Jet Skis.

Similarly, WaveRunner is a Yamaha branded term for their personal watercraft. Yamaha also manufactures stand-up WaveRunners, but for closed-course competition only.

PWC, or personal watercraft, is a broad term used to describe all small craft that use an impeller versus a propeller, and the rider is on top of the hull rather than sitting within it.

Seated Jet Skis have a bench seat for the rider, and can carry up to four people. Stand-up Jet Skis are for one rider only, and have a hinged section with the handlebar and other rider controls, allowing the rider to start in the kneeling position, and then stand up once underway.

Read: How Do Personal Watercraft Work?

Who Works on Jet Skis?

If you’re considering becoming a jet ski mechanic, it’s important to be familiar with the different types of businesses that work on them. In general, there are four main types of business that work on jet skis:

  • Marinas
  • Motorcycle/powersports shops
  • Independent Jet Ski mechanics
  • Mobile mechanics

In addition to being a confident Jet Ski mechanic, knowledge of either boats or other powersports equipment can be helpful when looking for a career. In time, a technician may be able to focus their work specifically on watercraft, but when starting out, diversity is a good thing.

If you’re a Jet Ski, marine, or boat mechanic, you can often pursue a career at a marina or independent boat repair shop. If you’re a confident Jet Ski and powersport technician who works on motorcycles, ATVs and side-by-sides, you can often pursue a career at a multiline powersports dealership.

Jet Ski Mechanic Requirements

Most shops will require experience or technical school when hiring new technicians. It’s rare that a shop will assume the liability to hire someone with no prior training or experience in the field, as errors in this line of work can have serious consequences.

Technicians with little prior experience or with technical school as their only form of experience will often start with basic maintenance work completing tasks such as oil changes, spark plug replacement and battery replacements.

As a technician demonstrates their ability to reliably service watercraft, they will likely be challenged with more difficult repairs over time. Troubleshooting, electrical diagnosis and high-performance work are some of the tasks that experienced Jet Ski mechanics spend their time on.

Specific Jet Ski mechanic requirements vary from employer to employer. Today, education is even more critical than in years past due to how fast technology is evolving. With rapid technological advancements, a solid educational background prepares technicians for future developments.

Additionally, other common requirements for tech school students who are looking for work as a Jet Ski mechanic often include:

  • HS diploma or GED
  • Industry-related work experience during school
  • A personal portfolio of projects completed outside of school, which can include personal vehicle repairs, side jobs for friends and family, and project vehicles
  • A clean driving history report

Jet Ski Mechanic Skills

Jet Ski mechanics, like many other types of mechanics, should be qualified in the areas listed below. Mastery of these skills is not required for entry-level positions, but mechanics will continue to learn, grow and develop these skills with experience.

  • Adaptability: Jet Ski mechanics must be flexible and able to take on any new challenge that comes their way.
  • Technical Knowledge: Having an understanding of engines, electrical systems, cooling systems, steering controls and even hull repair are all part of the knowledge required to be a successful Jet Ski technician.
  • Attention to Detail: Watercraft technicians work with vehicles and equipment that can be dangerous if they aren’t handled carefully.
  • Problem Solving: The best Jet Ski technicians are problem-solvers and have the ability to think on their feet to find solutions that are best for the customer and shop.
  • Communication: While a significant amount of their time is spent doing hands-on work, Jet Ski technicians also must communicate with customers, parts suppliers, vendors and other technicians.
  • Drive: The Jet Ski technicians who are driven to succeed are the ones who work their way up and advance to new roles, becoming better each day.

What Do Jet Ski Mechanics Do?

While not an all-inclusive list, Jet Ski mechanics are typically responsible for the following:

  • Maintenance and repair
  • Upgrade/performance
  • Traveling to job site for some repairs
  • Moving watercraft around the facility, including in and out of water
  • Hull repair
  • Electrical diagnostics
  • Accessory installation (GPS, depth finder, etc.)
  • Watercraft test rides
  • Ordering parts
  • Communicating with customers

Jet Ski Mechanic Salary Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t specify salary numbers for Jet Ski or personal watercraft mechanics.

However, if we look at the average salaries for marine and motorcycle technicians, it can serve as a general guide. As stated earlier, mechanics who work on Jet Skis will often work in a marina or motorcycle dealership.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for motorboat mechanics and service technicians in the United States was $43,320 in May 2020.31 And according to the BLS, the median annual salary for motorcycle mechanics was $38,010 in May 2020.30

This means half of marine and motorcycle technicians earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area.

How to Train to Become a Jet Ski Mechanic

As with most careers, you will most likely need to advance your education in order to become a personal watercraft mechanic.

While some technicians learn through an apprenticeship or on-the-job training, attending a formal program can help jump-start your career and prepare you for what you’ll experience in the field. While there might not technically be Jet Ski mechanic schools, there are programs you can take that provide a foundation of knowledge you can build on.

If your interests are more in line with the powersports industry, you may want to explore Motorcycle Mechanics Institute’s Motorcycle Technician training program with the  Kawasaki K-Tech or Yamaha courses. By going this route, you’ll receive training on multiple types of personal watercraft, as well as motorcycles and other powersport vehicles.

On the other hand, if you want to work with watercraft, both large and small, Marine Mechanics Institute’s Marine Technician Specialist training program might be a great option to start your career. While this program doesn’t cover personal watercraft specifically, it’s designed to help graduates get jobs as technicians in the marine industry.

When interviewing with a company for a Jet Ski Mechanic role, always make sure you’re prepared. Prior to meeting with an employer, take some time to research the company and position, perfect your resume and prepare some key questions you’ll want to ask. Check out these interview and resume guides for some helpful tips.

Train for an Exciting Career

Both the motorcycle and the marine technician programs start every six weeks. To learn more and take the first step toward a new career, visit our website and request information to get in touch with an Admissions Representative today.

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1) MMI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.

30) MMI’s Motorcycle Technician Training program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as motorcycle technicians. Estimated annual salary is for Motorcycle Mechanics as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for MMI graduates. MMI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. MMI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some MMI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as a motorcycle technician, such as service writer, equipment maintenance, and parts associate. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary for persons employed as Motorcycle Mechanic (49-3052) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $30,660 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled motorcycle technicians in North Carolina is $15.94 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Motorcycle Mechanics). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentiles of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $12.31 and $10.56, respectively.

31) MMI’s Marine Technician Specialist program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as marine technicians. Estimated annual salary is for Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for MMI graduates. MMI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. MMI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some MMI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as a marine technician, such as equipment maintenance, inspector, and part associate. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians (49-3051) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $32,760 to $42,570 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled marine technicians in North Carolina is $18.61 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentiles of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $15.18 and $12.87, respectively.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

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