How 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. Oftentimes, these can 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 and more.

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 Does 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 multi-line 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

Unfortunately, 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.

The BLS reports that the annual median salary for motorboat mechanics and service technicians is $41,330, according to May 2019 data. For motorcycle mechanics, the median annual salary is $37,600.

How 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 to 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 power sports 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, all year long. 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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