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Opinions, Please


itznowonder

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I just wanted to get opinions about one of my kids career choices..... She wants to become a marine mechanic. I don't know anything about it but she is passionate about wanting to be around boats and boating. We have lived in a mountainous area her entire life and do have a wonderful lake nearby so she has grown up at the lake. I know this isn't a job that will change the world but She is a kid that wants a simple life enjoying what she loves. Anyone out there can speak to the viability of doing this "for a living"? It would be a kick to see her succeed at being a mechanic but I also want to make sure she isn't fooling herself when it comes to being able to pay her bills. Right now there are no bills since she's a JR in High school. Thoughts?

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My mechanic gets $95 an hour and is always busy (well, 7 months of the year anyway). But that's in the Lake Norman area where there are plenty of boats (inboards especially) to be worked on.

Edit: Plus, he's a top-notch mechanic with a reputation for doing great work.

Edited by jcochrane007
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My mechanic gets $95 an hour and is always busy (well, 7 months of the year anyway). But that's in the Lake Norman area where there are plenty of boats (inboards especially) to be worked on.

Edit: Plus, he's a top-notch mechanic with a reputation for doing great work.

good to know. we live in Banner Elk NC so knowing she could be as close as CLT would be awesome!

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How much mechanic work has she done so far? What about it does she love? Trying to help identify what motivates her.

I gotta say, if her goal is maint. manager at a marina, it's going to be an uphill battle all the way (JMHO), especially if she is attractive. Just the whole male/female thing I think would be rough, with her working around guys all day. I don't think the constant battle she would have to wage would be worth it - and might have her hating the field in the end.

I like the engineering and design idea.

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My experience with pleasure and seasonal vehicle mechanics (snowmobile, motorcycle, boat) is that they don't get to enjoy the sport as much as they would like. Not to say they can't go out for fun, but they are generally working had during the season since there is an off season that will slow down. They need to get their hours in while it counts. It's definitely a viable job, but she does need to think about it.

I would suggest having her go talk to someone in the field around where you live. Buy the guy or gal lunch and pick their brain about the carrier in that area.

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Back in the day when I was a windsurfing instructor it was hard to just go out and sail. I felt like I was always working. I chose another career that allowed me to just go have fun with my time off. (not that windsurfing instructor would have been a great carear choice)

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How much mechanic work has she done so far? What about it does she love? Trying to help identify what motivates her.

I gotta say, if her goal is maint. manager at a marina, it's going to be an uphill battle all the way (JMHO), especially if she is attractive. Just the whole male/female thing I think would be rough, with her working around guys all day. I don't think the constant battle she would have to wage would be worth it - and might have her hating the field in the end.

I like the engineering and design idea.

I think her goal is to be surrounded by what she loves. i like the idea of engineering / design as well...will have to kick it around with her. As far as what she knows so far... Not one single thing. A school spoke at the high school the other day and that planted the seed. When the schools' rep said that no experience was a good thing (clean slate for proper learning from the start) That started the wheels turning on how to make this work for her.

about the male / female thing.... I'm her mom and just a tad biased but all 5'2" of her cute little self is like me... not gonna take s**t from nobody!! She will handle that part ok, I think.

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Back in the day when I was a windsurfing instructor it was hard to just go out and sail. I felt like I was always working. I chose another career that allowed me to just go have fun with my time off. (not that windsurfing instructor would have been a great carear choice)

I know what you mean there. My degree from college was in Ski area management. I quickly realized I was so busy making sure all the paying customers were having fun I didn't even get to see snow! Good thing I have another degree in interior design that allows me to work in that field so I can pay for a liftie and act like a tourist!

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There should be some good online aptitude tests. I did mine on paper back pre internet, I remember the aptitude being a mechanic being similar to being a problem solver.

I would have her take some aptitude tests, and if she wants to be a marine mechanic great, but business management skills would help her, so maybe some course in business management, accounting, etc.

I have always considered a trade more valuable than an occupation to the extent that you are more independent from a large organization to employ you, but many of those I see in trades would benefit from some business management skills. (the no fun part of work)

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The job itself pays OK. And today there is no shortage of work. But like others said, it's a seasonal gig. And of all the guys I know who actually WORK in the industry, not many of them actually do this stuff for fun too.

Wileys. SkySki. HO/Hyperlite. Ronix. Bakes. Hagadone Marine. And tons of other companies I've worked & skied with guys who work there. They start out thinking it'll be great, get to ski/ride/work in the industry. Then after a few years they take up hang gliding or something other than hanging out on the boat all the time.

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My advice to young people is to get trained or educated in a field that will pay well. Regardless how much you like doing something, after years of working a job, work is just work.

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My advice to young people is to get trained or educated in a field that will pay well. Regardless how much you like doing something, after years of working a job, work is just work.

ah. the flip side to that is if you enjoy what you do you'll never work a day in your life.

  • Like 1
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Don't be so small sighted. By that I mean look at the bigger boating picture. My aunt spent 16years working on boats. She learned to clean them fix them and more important she learned to take care of people. She got a Job on a private yacht. She cleaned and by that I mean the whole boat in and out, cooked, did laundry, waited on the owners etc. She was 1 of 7 in the full time staff. In her time with them she saw 7 country's more ports than I can think of and did all of it in high style. With no expenses and a home on the water she managed to do very well. Just food for thought..

Edited by liljohn
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I worked on my boat last weekend next to another shop that is run by a gal. They specialize in outboards and she has all the work she wants all year (Hawaii). She is a happy lady. At 2000 she was turning off lights. What others have said about marine work being a man's field generally, both from a customers and present-day mechanics standpoint, is true and needs to be considered. She puts in hell-a-long days and is just as greasy as the guys there.

I think an important thing is for her to look for some kind of summer job next year? in which she interns, etc. and can really see if she likes such work. I had a friend who got half way thru dental school and realized he hates having his hands in people's gross mouths all day....

Another idea if she likes ships/boats is join JROTC/ROTC and ultimately be a Naval Officer. Plus it's a free ride thru college. I work with female officers all the time. They seem to love their jobs, FWIW.

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My advice to young people is to get trained or educated in a field that will pay well. Regardless how much you like doing something, after years of working a job, work is just work.

I chased my dream and became a pilot. I am not the richest person on this site by a long shot but I do have a great life, and I haven't gone to work in years. I fly a Lear 60 for a large corporate operator, weekends are minimal, summer is minimul and the pay is good (not great). Telling someone to do something just for the money is not a good idea, my brother did that....he hates his job.

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This why I say be an Engineer the sky is the limit she can start by turning tools when it gets old go into design then be a CEO. I work in the oil field and love it. In my job I will learn my job and I have always had the need to learn more so in this job I can just move up to the new challenge. I'm not trying to tell you how to be a parent I am still learning that one myself. But when the time comes I plan to teaching mine you have to crawl before you can walk. And that education will make the journey a lot easier.

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Just make it clear to her that her busiest time of year by far will be the summer. She will be taking her vacations in the off season. She likely won't get to spend much time on the water.

I love all things mechanical and went to school for it. Following that I went to school to become an automotive teacher. Now its just a big regret the teaching gig stinks and don't want to go back to a shop....I should have set my goals higher. My mechanical and fine motor skills could have actually been applied to other things. In my case dentistry. After an accident and subsequent 20+ dental appointments I found I was fascinated in what my dentist was doing. If only I had realized that when I was younger.

My point is to have her analyze what she likes about turning wrenches.....and then find something more lucrative that utilizes the same skill set.

Edited by Ruffdog
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The best thing for her to do is focus on getting the best grades she can in highschool, taking AP classes if possible and being involved with clubs, ASB, sports, school paper or whatever. Having a high GPA with solid extracurricular activity will provide her with options to get into different schools (both 2 and 4 year programs), be granted scholarships (that can be worth 10's of thousands in tuition).

At that point she will have options, if she wants to go to an Engineering school, Technical School or anything else.

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Running a fairly good sized service department (not marine related) for almost 10 years, I can tell you that it is tough for a female to be taken seriously when "talking shop". Its messed up, but its the society / culture /stereotype that we live in. We have a woman who is an awesome mechanic & service adviser - she can run laps around any other guy or person in the entire company. More knowledgeable, more organized, harder working, awesome with customer interactions, more intelligent, and generally better at troubleshooting and fixing stuff than anyone in the company. At one point every person but one in the service department had been trained by her.

Every time she talks to a customer she had to prove her self simply because she isnt male. Once the customer got to know and understand her, they were believers for life. But it was an uphill battle with every person that walked in the door or called in on the phone. It even got ugly some times, the older the customer generally the worse it was. There were a couple customers where she literally needed a male tech to act as "translator" - to repeat exactly what she said to the customer, and he would listen to the guy. Ridiculous, sad.

Honestly, we love it! She is awesome, and the look on some guys faces when they realize she knows exactly what shes talking about is priceless. But, even for one of the strongest willed and emotionally bullet proof people I've ever known, I can tell that general male stereo types get to her sometimes and it really wears her down.

/end rant. This has been something we've been dealing with for years. The whole situation brings us so much frustration yet so much joy at the same time.

That being said - I say go for it. I love the underdog, and this is definitely a male dominated industry. Just be prepared for some very challenging situations - that of which no school or technical training will ever help her troubleshoot, solve, or fix.

And really, before she ever has to consider any of that drama, as others have mentioned, how is her mechanical ability? She's in her early/mid teens: has she shown mechanical ability? Has she been working on the family boat? Taking other things apart? Bombing around with dad (or mom) and doing projects? It's been my experience that most people working as mechanics / maintenance had a mechanical drive from a very young age and were tinkering/taking things a part / [hopefully] putting them back together ...etc. The fundamentals of this type of job arent learned in school or training. A great place to start at this age would be on family boats, and a part time job or summer internship at a local shop. But if she heads into it lacking the fundamentals (basic problem solving and knowledge of basic tools) shes going to have a really, really big uphill battle.

Engineering would absolutely be worth looking into as others have mentioned. Good women engineers are _always_ in demand. In my mechanical engineering class almost all the females (about 20% of the class) had jobs well before the majority of the guys even had serious 2nd interviews.

Encourage her to do what she wants to do, but dont be afraid to guide her to get as much experience in a field before she devotes a lot of time (and money) to advancing a career in it.

Edited for spelling. I have a degree in engineering, not the English language.

Edited by chadwick02
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Don't be so small sighted. By that I mean look at the bigger boating picture. My aunt spent 16years working on boats. She learned to clean them fix them and more important she learned to take care of people. She got a Job on a private yacht. She cleaned and by that I mean the whole boat in and out, cooked, did laundry, waited on the owners etc. She was 1 of 7 in the full time staff. In her time with them she saw 7 country's more ports than I can think of and did all of it in high style. With no expenses and a home on the water she managed to do very well. Just food for thought..

Im with Liljohn. Look at some of the other areas that still include being on the water. I was a diesel mechanic in the Coast Guard and came very close to moving to Florida and working on private yachts after I got out. Chief Engineers can make darn near what the captain makes in most instances. Another possibility is the Merchant Marines. My uncle was a freighter captain in the MM's. He had a pretty awesome schedule; 2 months on/ 2months off, and made really good money. In that time the they would make 2 round trips of the Pacific Rim.

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