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Old 21-12-2019, 08:35   #1
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What Trades are in demand in marine industry

I am considering leaving/retiring from my current job, aviation engineering, with limited time to take off and find a part time job or business owner in the marine trades to be closer to my boat, closer to boating, have some flexibility regarding work schedule. Looking to be a technician or sales engineering rep for a marine navigation, powerplant, electrical OEM. Maybe get training and a certification. I still need to work, but again, trying to escape the grips of my current 50 hr work week. Looking to be less sedentary, maybe do more physically, etc.



So, what trades in the boating and marine word that you see are in demand? What have you heard?



thank you !
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Old 21-12-2019, 09:03   #2
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

Hydraulics
Electrical engineering
Communications , networking
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Old 21-12-2019, 09:16   #3
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

A clue may be to relate a new career to your old. You didn't say which part(s) of aeronautical engineering, but ideas based on that general area of expertise, and what I see or see in the posts on this forum,

Welding, particularly stainless steel and aluminum.

Radio electronics

AC and DC circuits, particularly solar and batteries.

Sails are soft vertical wings.

Quick Saturday afternoon service for outboard motors that clunk.

Installation of plumbing, wiring, and particularly electronics.

Maybe try following the threads and see when you think "I know lots about that!"

Good luck with it. You could have a very happy second career after burning out in your first. One central point is that unless you go into marine engineering, you will be moving toward the hands-on and away from the desk CAD program.
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Old 21-12-2019, 09:16   #4
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

You could learn to become an electrician as well if you want to actually learn how to wire things up.
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Old 21-12-2019, 09:47   #5
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

If you need certifications, such as becoming a licensed electrician, be aware that state licensing people believe in their own job security, and require classes that are guaranteed to destroy brain cells independent of your knowledge or ability to pass their tests. Sometimes, that is valid, because there is hand-on stuff to learn. Otherwise, it's frustrating, but not a bureaucracy you can defeat.
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Old 21-12-2019, 09:50   #6
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
If you need certifications, such as becoming a licensed electrician, be aware that state licensing people believe in their own job security, and require classes that are guaranteed to destroy brain cells independent of your knowledge or ability to pass their tests. Sometimes, that is valid, because there is hand-on stuff to learn. Otherwise, it's frustrating, but not a bureaucracy you can defeat.
If the OP is a certificated airframe and powerplant tech, he knows all about this!
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Old 21-12-2019, 10:13   #7
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

Electronic installation seems to always be in demand. Not enough people really know it and how to interface components etc. (not just install and hook things up)
But really, it's not like there is going to be super high demand I would think... mostly following new boat sales?
Mega yacht jobs doing that can bring a lot of money. But how many are sold each year?
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Old 21-12-2019, 10:41   #8
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

If it was me making the transition from aviation to marine, I would attend as many engine service schools as I could afford or that would accept me. A factory trained Cat, MAN, MTU, Yamaha, Mercruiser or Yanmar tech should be able to find a job or start their own business with enough financial backing. Just keep away from the sailboat business. As is apparent on this forum, many sailboaters are very unwilling to part with a dime. What you want is to deal with the 1%, businesses for whom a boat is a tool for making money or the sport fishing crowd. Look for folks who are accustomed to spending thousands weekly for fuel or those who stand to lose big money if their boat is down for a few days: offshore oil supply boats, commercial fishing, tugs or ferries, etc.
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Old 21-12-2019, 13:29   #9
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

I don't know where you are, but an honest, fair person who does ANY kind of boat work around here will have more business than they can handle.

I just had a guy do some work on a boat I sometimes run, who was retired from the Air Force. That was outboard work, and he did a great job, showed up on time, came in on budget and even went above and beyond (no extra charge) on one issue. He's going to get a ton more work from me, and from everyone I know.

A lot has to do with your preferences. I'd say if you can do canvas work, that's probably the easiest way to make a buck around here. Those people have long waiting lists, and even the ones who do shoddy work or never show up on time have more business than they can handle.

Any mechanical work, engines, outboards, running gear, etc. is always in demand. Likewise good fiberglass or painting work. Even the guy who does detailing and waxing is always overworked around here.

Electronics is a bit different. Most people either DIY, or they go to an established marine electronics firm and have everything done by the seller. Those companies might or might not be hiring. It's tough to beat the outfits who both sell and install, and it takes a while to build up that business.

Finally, consider your physical condition. Crawling around inside engine rooms, or trying to fish wires through bulkheads, or handling heavy bimini poles to fit canvas can require a lot of "boat yoga."
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Old 21-12-2019, 15:02   #10
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

In cruiser anchorages/mooring fields you could probably make more money cutting hair and bottom cleaning than a “real” trade. Cruisers tend to help each and there is almost always one with the skills around.
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Old 21-12-2019, 15:31   #11
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

Marine plumbing

getting increasingly complicated yet no-one wants to know about it. i've lost count of the number of different FW, SW, grey water & black water systems here

can't be replaced with 'plug in' components a la electronics...anyone can do 12v electricals...mechanics are a dime a dozen (although good ones are GOLD)...sewing covers n such is what wives are for (that's gunna hurt later...)

but marine plumbers are virtually unknown

just my 2 cents worth

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Old 21-12-2019, 16:03   #12
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

You might be better getting a job at McDonalds if you are trying to escape a 50 hour work week. Everyone on this forum will tell you that most jobs take way longer than expected. I am not sure that many owners would be happy to see you leave the job half finished just because you have reached your 40 hours work for the week.
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Old 21-12-2019, 16:50   #13
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

I've also been chasing the idea of being somewhere in the marine trade as part of my retirement, mainly to stay active, connected to boats and to generate some extra cash over and above the retirement money.

Because of an extensive background in electrical/electronics, I got certified with ABYC for electrical, and I spent one spring and summer "apprenticing" with a busy marine electrician, which gave me some extended experience. I also usually do one or two installations/repairs a year for friends.

I'm still pondering such a move as retirement looms. Here's my current thinking for/against:
  • to be professional, it requires some commitment and outlay: truck/van, tools, inventory, incorporation or sole proprietorship, liability insurance, vehicle insurance, bookkeeping, an accountant
  • it can be very physical - lugging tools from your truck to the boat (get a wagon...), and being a contortionist onboard
  • as a full-time gig it can be a struggle, especially north when there are winters. The guy I worked with was quite busy over the prelaunch and boating season, but had to also do other stuff like shrink-wrapping, general winterizing, spring commissioning to generate hours in the off-peak.
  • the marine trades here love motorboat owners; they are used to paying for good service. the sailboat owners... sometimes different. I have read upthread about how some appreciate good service, but the flipside is that guy who resents that you charged $110/hr to come out, splice one wire and change a lightbulb...
  • boats are all unique and personal. That's code for you don't know what you're gonna find. Some panels haven't been touched by anybody competent for decades...
My current conclusions:
  • If you're competent, have the people skills and ok with the physical part, can manage the initial investment, and have funds to help carry you over the first year or two... it can be a good business to be in.
  • It might be an OK casual gig for a retired person, but unless you can get all your business from friends, you will still need the same business trappings to protect yourself from liabilities and the taxman.
[ Edit - interesting points about plumbing and canvas work. I don't find boat plumbing that hard and the yuck factor probably will keep the owner from questioning your estimates. Canvas work - yeah, they do seem madly backed up, expensive, and even some of the better shops can't keep to a schedule ]
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Old 21-12-2019, 22:14   #14
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

You need to define marine. Boats or ships?
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Old 21-12-2019, 23:25   #15
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Re: What Trades are in demand in marine industry

If I needed to make some scratch on the water anywhere in the world, I'd offer simple dive services everywhere I went. There is always someone who needs something, and most boats do not carry the gear. Just dinghy around the anchorage yelling Change yer anode, guv'na?! Scrape ya prop!?

Or, for the less theatrical (read more boring) go up to each boat, maybe with a simple card with your first name and a gmail, and say: Good day, madam, I'm a diver if you need anything done underwater while you're here. Tell your friends, not the cops, cash only, thank you.
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