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Large fishing boat in a drydock in Nova Scotia


Marine Service Technicians service, repair, refit and upgrade commercial and pleasure boats, including power and sail. They keep fishing boats on the water, workboats on the job and service the multitude of pleasure boats on Nova Scotia’s rivers, lakes and coasts. 

Their work includes virtually all aspects of boats, including structural and cosmetic work on hulls and decks, electrical wiring and electronic systems, engines and propulsion systems, plumbing and mechanical work, and more. They also set and tune rigging and haul and store boats. As one MST puts it, “it’s like doing every trade, all at once.”

MSTs can be found in boatyards, marinas, yacht clubs, and marine dealerships throughout the province.

There are two ways to get certified: Apprenticeship or Trade Qualification (experience required). 

Marine Service Technicians 
Apprenticeship: Key Facts

  • Primarily on-the-job training combined with self-directed learning

  • Training workbooks are licensed from Quadrant Marine Institute in British Columbia

  • 7,200 hours, which equals about 4 years full-time

  • Competency-based

  • No “block release” (weeks of technical training done away from the worksite)

  • Includes three level exams and one final certification exam

  • See the full scope of the trade in the Marine Service Technician Curriculum Standard on the NS Apprenticeship Agency website

Pathways to Certification:


Trade Qualifier

Man in a boat shop beside a hydraulic machine



Learn about the Marine Service Technician trade to ensure it is right for you; you can also contact the NSBA’s Training and Certification Coordinator to learn more


If you aren’t already employed in the industry, get a job with a company that has a certified Marine Service Technician on their team; the NSBA can help direct you to potential employers or you can check our directory for who has certified Marine Service Technicians on their team.


With your employer’s approval, contact the NSBA to get started with your apprenticeship including registration with the NSAA, getting an orientation and logbook, and getting your initial training materials.


Work through the training units and required competencies under the guidance of a qualified journeyperson and the NSBA’s training staff.


Keep a record of your progress in your logbook as you go. The NSBA’s training staff will review this with you and your mentor during periodic visits and will report your progress to the NSAA.


As you complete each level, register for the level exam.


As you pass each exam, apply for an apprentice progression award ($750)


Complete your apprenticeship and get a Certificate of Qualification as a newly certified Marine Service Technician.


MST Apprenticeship


If you have been working as a marine service technician for at least 10,800 hours and you are interested in receiving your Nova Scotia Marine Service Technician Certificate of Qualification to become a Certified Journeyperson, you may be eligible to become certified as a Trade Qualifier rather than through an apprenticeship pathway.

*1 year = approximately 2000 hours at 40 hours/week for 50 weeks/year]

The following list suggests contacting the NSBA when you have your documentation ready, but you can contact us at any time if you have questions or would like help working through the steps.


Review the Marine Service Technician Curriculum Standard to ensure you have the required trade competencies.


Assemble documentation proving you have the required amount of hours practicing in the trade. If you need help, such as getting a template letter your current and/or previous employer(s) can fill out, contact the NSBA’s Training and Certification Coordinator  at


Prepare two reference letters from people in a position to support your application to be certified as a Trade Qualifier. They should be familiar with the content of the MST trade and familiar with your work in the trade. The NSAA provides letter templates in its Trade Qualifier Guidelines and Process document. 

MST Trade Certification


Once you have determined that you have all the trade competencies and your paperwork is ready, contact the NSBA’s Training and Certification Coordinator ( who can help you prepare for the certification exam as well as helping with the Trade Qualifier (TQ) application and exam booking. There is an application fee of $740.77 that must be submitted as part of your TQ application to NSAA. The exam cost is included in this fee.


Prepare for the exam. You can review the NSAA’s exam counselling sheets that include the weighting of different sections of the exam (scroll to find the MST trade, trades are listed alphabetically) and the NSBA has practice quizzes to help you practice doing multiple choice exams.  


The NSBA periodically offers 3-day exam prep workshops that review the scope of the trade, what skills you should have, how to prepare for an exam, and other useful information. These are offered based on demand; contact us for more information or to be added to our list.


Pass the exam with a minimum score of 70%.

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Subject to demand, the NSBA offers an exam prep course for people who are eligible to challenge the Marine Service Technician certification exam as Trade Qualifiers (see “Steps to Becoming Certified as a Marine Service Technician with Existing Experience (Trade Qualification)" above).

The 3-day course reviews the scope of the trade including what to expect from the exam — structure of questions, weighting of different topic areas, etc. The marine service disciplines included in the curriculum standard are reviewed along with examples of multiple-choice questions (not actual exam questions). 

Prior to the course, NSBA will work with candidates and NSAA’s Industry Training Consultants to ensure candidates are eligible to apply for certification as Trade Qualifiers and help them get started on the application process.


The scope of the MST trade is broad and it is important to know the topics included on the exam, as people may encounter different sides of the trade in different work environments. The course will help you be prepared for the topics that will be covered.

This course helps maximize success for TQ candidates. Being certified sets you and your company apart from your competition and can be helpful for business. It also helps recruit and retain new employees who are interested in apprenticeship.

When offered, this course is free to members of the NSBA and Boating Atlantic. A nominal fee will apply to other participants, usually $75 + HST. This is separate from fees payable to the NS Apprenticeship Agency as part of applying to become certified as a Trade Qualifier. 

This course is not designed to teach technical skills; you should have these prior to registering for the course. If you do not have the required knowledge and experience to pass the exam, we recommend becoming certified through an apprenticeship pathway, which can be accelerated based on previous work experience. If you have most but not all of the required experience to become certified as a Trade Qualifier, the NSBA can work with you and your employer (if applicable) to develop a training plan that will help you develop the skills and experience needed. If you have the required skills but struggle with writing exams, this course may help — and you may be eligible for exam accommodations. 

Please contact or if you are interested in this course. If no course is currently scheduled, we will add you to a waiting list and schedule a course once there is enough demand.

Note: The certification exam was updated by the NS Apprenticeship Agency in September 2018 with input from NSBA and certified Marine Service Technicians. Individuals who have previously attempted the MST exam without success are welcome to attend this course. The rewrite fee paid to NSAA for those who have previously attempted the exam is $148.18.

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