While the recreational vehicle (RV) industry has grown steadily over the last ten years, the number of well-trained RV technicians is declining. RV technicians must possess a diverse skill set—from plumbing and electrical to hydraulics and appliance repair.
Since 1996, Nocti Business Solutions (NBS) has worked with RV industry experts to create and maintain a certification for RV technicians. Over the years, we have modified and updated the original certification to align with evolving industry standards and have helped develop additional training materials.
Demand for RV Technicians
Like many other skilled trades, RV manufacturers, suppliers, and dealers are facing a shortage of qualified technicians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are 15,150 RV technicians currently employed in the U.S. While certification is not currently an industry requirement, fewer than 4,000 technicians hold a certification. And with many current technicians approaching retirement, the industry will continue to see a shortage of qualified workers.
In 2018, the RV Industry Association (RVIA) Board of Directors approved the foundation of the RV Technical Institute (RVTI). The institute was formed to provide world-class training for RV maintenance and repair that will reduce the RV industry’s shortfall of trained RV technicians.
RVTI set out to expand its training efforts. Together, NBS and RVTI developed a comprehensive training program aimed at making the certification process simpler for current technicians and encouraging new skilled workers to enter the industry.
Developing a Curriculum
Using NBS’s original job and task analysis as a foundation, NBS and RVTI began building a robust curriculum. We developed presentations, revised textbooks, and created resources for instructors to use across multiple training environments.
With NBS facilitating the development of the material, RVTI was able to develop a fully-fledged curriculum in just a year and a half.
The curriculum is now used in RVTI’s dedicated training facility in Elkhart, Indiana and by 26 designated learning partners throughout the U.S. The new course is a hands-on, competency-based program designed with input from subject matter experts from RV suppliers, manufacturers, dealers, and independent technicians. The program guides learners through the key areas of required knowledge and expertise needed by skilled RV technicians.
Multiple Certification Levels
The curriculum is divided into four levels of proficiency covering theory, application, specialties training, and troubleshooting. The program is designed to mirror a real-world workplace and shop environment.
Each level builds on the foundation of the previous one, teaching learners how to diagnose, maintain, and repair RV systems and components. From here, technicians can increase proficiency through specialized training courses.
Level One teaches the foundations of RV maintenance and repair. Certified Level 1 technicians may work as a pre-delivery inspector (PDI) to prepare an RV for customer delivery by verifying the operation of all components.
Level Two technicians have theoretical knowledge of all the systems and components within an RV and are able to perform basic diagnostics, troubleshooting, and repairs on those systems and components.
Level Three technicians must complete specialized training through vendors on speciﬁc types of components and perform advanced diagnostics, troubleshooting, and repairs on those systems and components.
Level Four Master Technicians have completed all five designated specialties through vendor training and are proﬁcient in troubleshooting and repair of all the major systems and components within an RV.
Expanding Its Reach
With a new curriculum and resources, RVTI is equipped to expand its reach and focus more intensely on training and recruiting efforts.
RVTI has helped facilitate vocational training geared toward reskilling adults. Currently, RVTI partners with RV dealer associations across the U.S. to deliver its comprehensive training program. J-TECH Institute, a vocational school in Florida, recently launched a new program for Marine and RV technology and will be adapting RVTI’s curriculum. Prison systems in Indiana and Texas have started offering training. RVTI and Texas recently celebrated the first graduating class of certified technicians from a women’s prison.
High School Programs
RVTI recently attended the 2021 American School Counselors Association Conference as part of an effort to implement the curriculum in high school vocational programs. Certification Level One is ideal for high school learners because the program focuses on foundational plumbing, electrical, and construction skills. Those who earn a certificate can pursue a career as an RV technician at a dealership, a manufacturer, or a supplier. Students may also go on to an adjacent skilled trade in plumbing, electrical, or construction.
More Personalized Training Options
Sharonne Lee, Vice President of Education & Operations at RVTI says she is especially excited about the opportunities to provide technicians with more in-depth resources. The new training program makes it easy to deliver a more personalized learning experience and to interact with technicians on a more personal level.
For RV dealers, manufacturers, or suppliers looking to certify more technicians or anyone looking to become certified, Lee advises taking advantage of the various learning methods RVTI now offers.
Self-Paced Online Courses. Currently available for the Level One class, learners complete the training at their own pace. Course tuition includes the electronic version of the textbooks and an opportunity to take the Level One Certification Exams.
In-Person Classes. Currently available for Levels One and Two, in-person instruction takes place at the RVTI campus in Elkhart, IN. The Level One course is a weeklong class, and the Level Two course is a four-week class. Both courses include classroom instruction, hands-on labs, and certification testing.
Hybrid Classes. Available for Level Two classes. Learners complete three weeks of training online with weekly reviews and check-ins. The fourth week is in-person to complete all hands-on labs, activities, and certification testing.
Self-Study Textbooks. The Level One textbooks are available for purchase as a set or individually. Textbooks include labs, activities, and quizzes for students who wish to self-study in preparation for certification testing.
Test Only. The written and performance exams are available for RV technicians who have either done the self-study or are an experienced RV technician who wishes to “test out” of Level One.
Equipping a Skilled Workforce
NBS is proud to help RVTI in its mission to provide world-class training for RV maintenance and repair that will reduce the industry’s shortfall of trained RV technicians. Through our shared expertise, we are working to equip tomorrow’s technicians with the skills and resources to be successful in a growing industry.