With boating enjoying a huge surge in popularity, opportunities for employment as a marine service technician have multiplied across the country. If you have ever considered a career centered around boating, fishing and other forms of recreation on the water, now is a great time to act!
“Boating is at its peak. A lot of new consumers are getting into boating. That makes demand for service high,” said Nick Van Nocker, Mercury University training technology manager.
“Baby boomers are retiring, leaving a void in the service tech sector,” he added.
Marine dealers and boatyards actively are searching for marine service technicians. The hiring managers are looking for candidates with skill sets that include mechanical aptitude, electrical know-how and computer programming. If you have had any experience with repairing cars, there is quite a bit of crossover between the automotive and marine industries. Interest in boating and the outdoors is another important attribute for many employers.
Even with proven skills, however, you can’t just step into most of the jobs in the marine service tech sector without having some level of industry-specific training and certification on your resumé. With the growing sophistication of today’s computer-controlled, networked and “smart” marine technology – particularly when it comes to outboard, sterndrive and inboard engines – prior training is an essential job qualification.
As a world leader in developing innovative marine technology, Mercury Marine understands the need for hands-on training programs that give new service technicians the skills and experience they need to succeed in a career in the boating industry. Mercury’s forward-thinking training division, Mercury University, has partnered with technical colleges across the U.S. and provided them with the tools they need to offer a variety of marine service tech certificate programs.
“We supply the product, training and curriculum for the college programs. Our Mercury Technical Account Managers also support technical colleges, matching graduates up with job opportunities at dealerships they support, and often coaching them,” Van Nocker said.
You can study for a variety of professional marine service technician certificates, including Outboard Engine Technician, Outboard Engine Diagnostics, Marine Rigger and FourStroke Maintenance, a program from Mercury that focuses on FourStroke outboard engines. Typically, students can earn a certificate in nine months to a year. The fee for each course is determined by the particular college, but it is a worthwhile investment in your future.
Savvy marine dealerships and service yards keep an eye on students as they pursue the Mercury-supported marine service technician curriculum at their local colleges.
“MarineMax® is in all of the technical colleges interviewing students as soon as they graduate,” Van Nocker added.
Certification by an accredited college is a powerful qualification to have on your resumé when you are job hunting. But that’s not the end of the training and education available to today’s aspiring marine service tech. Once you snag that job with a Mercury Authorized Dealer or service shop, your employer will send you to Mercury University to fine-tune your skills.
Better yet, the “technician ID” you were assigned by your college-level certification program will follow you to Mercury U, so classes you already have completed can be credited toward your goal of becoming a Mercury Certified Technician.
“We have Mercury University training programs all through the U.S., including Orlando, Florida; Beaver Dam, Wisconsin; Dallas, Texas; Suwanee, Georgia, and Laconia, New Hampshire,” Van Nocker said, adding that the courses combine hands-on, in-person training with virtual classes that let you learn while you work.
The initial Mercury University course offering, Marine Technical Essential Knowledge, or M-TEK, provides a basic overview of the marine industry, particularly Mercury Marine products. After that, you can train to become a Mercury Certified Technician for the Mercury Outboard, MerCruiser® Sterndrive and MerCruiser Inboard engine product lines. At the end of the course, you have to pass a test to become a certified technician in a particular product line, which will increase your value to and status with your employer.
“You can become a Mercury Certified Technician in two to four years, and the dealership pays for the program,” Van Nocker said.
To maintain certified status, you must continue your product training by taking three hours of training every year and a classroom course every three years.
Truly motivated techs can go on to achieve Mercury Master Technician status, the highest qualification you can earn by attending Mercury University. Master Technicians demonstrate outstanding performance and professionalism, as well as a commitment to providing only the highest standards of service. To qualify, technicians must be certified in a specific product line for four consecutive years without any lapses in training. A Master Technician test is then administered, and those who pass are awarded Master status.
Whether your goal is to become a Mercury Master Technician or simply to turn a wrench in a pleasant outdoor working environment, technical college training and Mercury University can be the path to a fulfilling career.
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