Alyssa Linkamper BUsts Myths About
Employment in the Marine Industry.
Wondering whether a career in the marine trades is right for you? Pursuing her goal to learn all aspects of operations at Safe Harbor Marinas, Alyssa Linkamper, 2015 MTTI Graduate, offers some 'straight talk' to help inform your decision.
“The career opportunities are endless for those who have a passion for the marine trade. As mature workers retire, the industry is looking to hire, train and promote Marine Technicians. Experienced marine mechanical technicians want to pass their knowledge and skills on to entry-level workers. It is a great time to learn and advance into higher level positions as they become available.”
Alyssa came to MTTI with no knowledge about the marine industry.
She had never even started an outboard motor. The only female and smallest person in her class, she initially doubted her ability to work as a Technician. Encouraged by her Instructor, classmates and (then) 10-year old daughter, she graduated the seven–month program at the top of her class, earning the Highest Academic Average Award & the Gold Wrench Award for Academics, Attendance and Shop Skills. She interned and was hired as a Marine Technician at Safe Harbor Onset Bay. Read Alyssa’s story.
MTTI nominated Alyssa for a national award: the 2015 ACCSC Outstanding Graduate of The Year.
Out of its hundreds of member schools nationwide, the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges selects only one person each year for this honor—in 2015, they chose Alyssa. View the video of Alyssa accepting the Outstanding Graduate Award at the ACCSC Professional Development Conference in Arlington, VA.
During 2016 Safe Harbor Onset Bay promoted Alyssa from Technician to Dockmaster.
“Working as a Dockmaster was a great experience for me. During the summer, I interacted directly with guests to ensure they had a memorable experience at the marina. I loved talking with boat owners and learning their ‘story’. As a Dockmaster, I learned a different side of the business, from personalizing a member’s visit to building docks and everything in between. Working with the yard crew, I assisted with hauls, launches and shrink wrapping for winter storage.”
In 2017, Safe Harbor Marinas purchased Brewer Onset Bay Marina.
The two companies merged, making Safe Harbor Marinas the largest owner and operator of marinas in the world. When the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association received a grant for Workforce Development, Onset’s General Manager and the Safe Harbor Regional VP recommended Alyssa to MMTA Executive Director, Randall Lyons; she joined forces with him as a Workforce Liaison. “I went to Boat Shows, Career Days and Schools to introduce people to the marine industry and its career opportunities.”
Safe Harbor recognizes the importance of supporting the industry by training and promoting technicians.
During 2019, they created two new positions, promoting Alyssa to Recruiting Specialist for the Northeast and hiring Holly Ashton as the new Director of Workforce Development. “I spent my first two months visiting different Safe Harbor Marinas to meet the GM’s and better understand recruiting challenges. Each one is unique in the work they do, and how they accomplish their goals. Holly and I are working on ways to create a pipeline of candidates with all levels of experience for Safe Harbor Marinas to hire, retain and train.”
While training as a Marine Technician at MTTI, Alyssa was also pursuing a college degree.
Alyssa completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management at Bridgewater State University during 2017. “My plan from the beginning has been to learn as many different aspects of marina operations with the goal of working towards a management position. I enjoyed working as a mechanical technician, but I also enjoy the people aspect. If I hadn’t loved my job as a marine technician, I wouldn’t be in this position as a Recruiting Specialist, telling people what I love of about the marine industry.”
Alyssa says, “The promotions I received happened faster than I expected.”
“I feel fortunate to be working in the industry I’m passionate about. This is a recreational industry. When boats are running well, customers are happy. It’s an upbeat, infectious environment."
According to Alyssa, “It takes a school like MTTI to get started in the marine industry.”
“MTTI’s program does a fantastic job of teaching the seasonal cycles of a boatyard—what work is done during fall, winter, spring and summer. The way MTTI’s program is structured, we came out understanding—and with hands-on experience doing—what is expected of new Techs in each season of the cycle.”
She says, “MTTI has the equipment and supplies to do all kinds of projects.”
“We worked on boats that students and community members brought to the school; it prepared us for the types of problems we would encounter on actual jobs. We were exposed to engine work; painting, gel coats and fiberglass; trailer maintenance; commissioning; shrink wrapping and winterization. We were also trained to understand how every crew member’s role is important to the flow of the work. There is camaraderie in the yard—everyone works together toward a common goal.”
“Attending MTTI was the best decision I made.”
“The Career Services piece at MTTI is important to graduates’ success. The school has built great relationships with marine companies and has a very good reputation—it helps students get hired by good companies. We had on-going assistance with résumé writing, interview preparation and lots of support for getting internships and job opportunities. MTTI really does set you up to be successful and to have a career.”
MYTH: Marine Technicians can only find employment in the coastal states.
While most coastal states do have a high need for skilled technicians, so do many interior areas! Wisconsin and Michigan have large lake populations. Texas and Kentucky, inland North Carolina and inland Georgia are among the states that have the highest number of marine mechanic and service technician employees1; Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and states along the Gulf Coast all employ Marine Technicians. According to Alyssa, “Safe Harbor Marinas have 82 properties nationwide. You can go to the Safe Harbor Marinas website, pick your state and see what opportunities we have in that location."
1Employment by state map and citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
MYTH: Jobs in the Marine Industry are only seasonal.
"Seasonal positions are available, if that’s what you are looking for—we have good opportunities for people who want to work only in the summer, or for retirees who want to work part-time. Marine work goes on all year. During spring, we are busy commissioning and getting boats out on the water, making emergency repairs throughout the summer. At the end of the summer season we winterize boats and prepare them for storage. Boat owners don’t want to miss any time on the water; during winter we do major repairs and upgrades and install new electronics to have their watercraft ready to launch at the start of the spring season.”
MYTH: Marine work is repetitive—so it becomes boring.
"This is such a dynamic industry! Technicians do a variety of tasks—plumbing, carpentry, electrical, HVAC—and taking boats on sea trials. Each boat is different—every day is a new adventure."
MYTH: Marine Technicians always work outdoors In the elements.
"A lot of Marine work is done outdoors—climbing into small spaces to access engines or other marine systems in the heat of summer or cold of winter. The ability to work outdoors and on the water is what attracts many people to work the marine field. However, many marinas have heated sheds and well-lit nice, clean indoor shops, where you’ll work at least part of the time."
MYTH: Wages for Marine Technicians are low.
"Like any industry in which you are employed as an entry-level worker, pay increases as you gain skill and experience. Continuing your education to gain additional Certifications will typically merit an increase in pay. As you require less supervision and are able to take on additional responsibilities, employers will pay you more."
MYTH: Marine Technicians have no defined career path to a good future.
There are many career options! Marinas support entry-level workers who demonstrate a desire to learn and grow. They provide training on the job, often in the form of mentoring by senior employees. Many marinas pay for continuing education by sending employees to manufacturer trainings.
- If you like working with people, you can provide guest relations/ customer service to boat owners as a Dockmaster, managing docking and undocking and working with the Yard Crew.
- People who like to train and oversee other employees can move up to positions as Foremen, Service Managers or eventually even a General Manager of a marina.
- If you have a general knowledge of boat mechanics, you can become a Parts Manager.
- If you prefer the day-to-day hands-on mechanical work, you can pursue becoming a Master Technician by earning a Factory Certification—Yamaha for example.
- If you have a mission to support the trade and like educating others, you can mentor new employees, or possibly become a teacher in a marine trade program or school.
- If you have a business background, or are willing to learn the business, you could move into operations and management positions.
Excited about career opportunities in the marine industry?
MTTI’s Marine Service Technician program is offered once each year—September through April. We are enrolling now for the September start. You can read about the Marine Service Technician program: https://www.mtti.edu/programs/marine-service-technician or contact us.