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Small Engine Mechanics

At a Glance

  • Work on items such as lawnmowers and chain saws
  • May specialize in one type of engine
  • Work alone most of the time
  • May work less in the winter months
  • Most train on the job

Career summary

Small engine mechanics service and repair outdoor power equipment.

Small engine mechanics may also be called power equipment technicians.

Small engine mechanics work on items such as:

Mechanics maintain small engines by inspecting, cleaning, and adjusting them. They replace worn or broken parts, such as spark plugs, valves, and carburetors.

When engines break down, mechanics talk to customers to figure out the problem. They may test engines or the quality of parts by using computers.

Once they locate the problem, mechanics either repair or install new parts. Repair work may include tuning ignition systems, honing cylinders, and installing new bearings. Small engine mechanics follow service manual directions to repair engines. They use tools such as lathes, boring machines, or grinders.

Once they have made the repairs, mechanics put the engines back in the equipment and test it to be sure it is running properly. Mechanics record what repairs they made and how much time they spent.

Small engine mechanics may work on only one type of engine, such as chain saws. Some mechanics work for dealers and repair only the product they sell.

Many mechanics sell parts and equipment. They also help customers learn how to maintain their equipment.

Related careers

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to small engine mechanics.

Common work activities

Small engine mechanics perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, small engine mechanics:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Small engine mechanics frequently:

It is important for small engine mechanics to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for small engine mechanics to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Small engine mechanics need to:


Reason and problem solve

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a small engine mechanic, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Some small engine mechanics learn their skills through formal training programs. Professional-technical schools and two-year colleges offer the programs. Most programs offer a combination of class instruction and hands-on practice. Programs last from six months to two years. Two-year programs usually grant an associate degree. Other programs grant a certificate. The number of schools offering these programs is limited.

On-the-job training

Most small engine mechanics get training on the job from experienced mechanics. You begin by working as a helper. As a helper, you perform routine services and make minor repairs. As you get more experience, you work on more complex tasks. During training, you learn to:

On-the-job training usually lasts two to three months. It may last longer for those who did not also have formal training.

#no listed apprenticeship programs on L&I site 4/22/08 lh

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

As small engines become more complex, employers may have a harder time doing all the training on the job. An increasing number of employers prefer to hire mechanics who graduated from formal training programs.

Employers look for small engine mechanics who have a basic knowledge of electronics. Electronics control engine performance and instrument displays on outdoor power equipment. To recognize and fix problems, mechanics need to know the basic rules of electronics.

For small engine trainee jobs, employers hire people who have mechanical ability. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates for trainee positions. They accept applicants who have less education if they have good reading, writing, and math skills. Many equipment dealers hire students in the summer. Students help put together new equipment and make minor repairs.

Certification through the Equipment & Engine Training Council, listed in the Other Resources section of this description, may be helpful. Some employers seek applicants who have experience working on both two- and four-cycle engines.

#Assn still offers certification; WorkSource Lewis Co job posted 3/14/07 required exp w/ both types of engines, 4/2/07, CJ. Checked assn info 4/8/09 & 4/26/11, 3/31/15 cj. EETC now offers tech training rather than the OPEESA, so changed info 1/30/17 cj.


Employees who relate well to the public are preferred. Many employers hire people who have some technical training and are willing to continually upgrade their skills. Obtaining and studying manufacturers' technical manuals is helpful. Applicants with interests related to their specialty, such as motorcycle riding and boating, may be preferred by employers. Talk with local shop managers to assess job prospects in your area.

Costs to workers

Workers are usually required to furnish their own hand tools. The cost varies.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


The minimum wage for Washington State as of January 1, 2020 is $13.50 per hour. Some areas of the state may have a higher minimum wage.

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics (SOC 49-3053)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $11.73 $14.03 $17.97 $23.93 $29.71
Monthly $2,033 $2,431 $3,114 $4,147 $5,149
Yearly $24,400 $29,180 $37,370 $49,780 $61,800
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $12.49 $13.87 $17.07 $21.28 $28.34
Monthly $2,165 $2,404 $2,958 $3,688 $4,911
Yearly $25,974 $28,850 $35,501 $44,263 $58,945
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $15.25 $16.58 $18.80 $21.57 $23.24
Monthly $2,643 $2,873 $3,258 $3,738 $4,027
Yearly $31,722 $34,492 $39,110 $44,868 $48,341
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $11.84 $12.10 $14.37 $18.89 $23.04
Monthly $2,052 $2,097 $2,490 $3,274 $3,993
Yearly $24,630 $25,178 $29,905 $39,293 $47,925
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $12.15 $15.63 $18.87 $27.43 $34.79
Monthly $2,106 $2,709 $3,270 $4,754 $6,029
Yearly $25,280 $32,511 $39,246 $57,043 $72,380
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $11.80 $14.70 $16.82 $18.26 $19.21
Monthly $2,045 $2,548 $2,915 $3,164 $3,329
Yearly $24,545 $30,577 $34,993 $37,991 $39,960
    Vancouver Hourly $13.98 $16.23 $18.78 $25.40 $29.31
Monthly $2,423 $2,813 $3,255 $4,402 $5,079
Yearly $29,072 $33,743 $39,066 $52,829 $60,971
United States Hourly $10.90 $13.44 $17.02 $21.40 $26.06
Monthly $1,889 $2,329 $2,950 $3,709 $4,516
Yearly $22,670 $27,960 $35,400 $44,520 $54,210

Pay varies by employer, area of the country, and the mechanic's level of skill.

Small engine mechanics who work full time often receive benefits. These benefits may include paid vacations, sick leave, and health insurance. Some employers pay for work-related training and provide uniforms. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

In Washington, the outlook depends on consumer demand for small gasoline powered machines and vehicles used for work and leisure. As equipment ages, older machines are being replaced by technically advanced equipment. This and new emission control standards have created some demand for highly trained technicians. Some consumers buy new equipment and discard older equipment, which bypasses repairers. Newer equipment is also less subject to breakdowns.

However, customers who buy new equipment are usually willing to invest in annual service and maintenance work. For some shops, annual service and maintenance on equipment accounts for the majority of their business. During economic downturns, consumers are more likely to repair than replace equipment.

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Outdoor Power Equipment and Other Small Engine Mechanics (SOC 49-3053)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 620 11.3% 16.1% 81
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 29 24.1% 13.4% 5
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 10 10.0% 8.6% 1
    Benton and Franklin Counties 20 10.0% 15.0% 2
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 72 19.4% 15.2% 11
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 48 6.3% 14.1% 5
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 17 11.8% 14.6% 2
    King County 159 11.9% 19.6% 21
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 133 24.1% 13.8% 21
    Pierce County 62 11.3% 15.2% 8
    Snohomish County 59 -10.2% 12.4% 5
    Spokane County 72 -2.8% 13.9% 7
United States 34,900 5.7% 5.2% 3,800

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will grow as fast as average. As small engines become more sophisticated people will need to take their equipment to mechanics for repair.

Most job openings will occur as current mechanics transfer to other jobs or retire. Job opportunities will be good for people who complete formal mechanic training programs.

Other resources

Equipment & Engine Training Council (external link)
344 Oak Grove Rd
Kings Mountain, NC 28086
Outdoor Power Equipment Aftermarket Association (external link)
1605 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster