Glimmer of hope over RV technician shortage

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There was some good news this past week regarding the crisis over a severe shortage of RV technicians across the USA. The shortage is forcing thousands of RVers at any one time to wait for a service appointment for weeks or even months for service to be completed on their vehicle.

The good news is the National RV Training Academy (NRVTA) celebrated the first anniversary of completing its inaugural class at the newly constructed Big Red Schoolhouse in Athens, Texas. The first class, a basic RV maintenance course, began Oct. 29, 2018, with 19 students and finished earlier this month.


The RV Industry Association (RVIA), the major RV trade organization, only recently opened its first technical training school after many years of talking about it. It has yet to graduate its first student.

The National RV Training Academy is a privately run, 15,000-square-foot facility with five classrooms and three service bays with overhead observation areas for students to view work performed on RV roofs. It’s adjacent to the Texan RV Park, which allows students to live in their own RVs or rent a cabin while attending classes.

A total of 419 students have completed training. Seventy-one later passed the exam to become registered RV technicians with the RV Industry Association and RV Dealers Association. Another 13 students completed all five weeks of training and passed the exam to become RVIA/RVDA-certified technicians.

“We are pleased with our first-year results,” said NRVTA Director Terry Cooper. “With the RV industry clamoring for trained technicians, we feel our courses are helping alleviate the critical need for technicians. I believe the tide is turning and America is waking up to the need for trained technicians and the myriad of opportunities available to people who complete that training.

“A number of our students who completed five weeks of training were hired right out of school to become RV technicians at dealerships, while the rest opted to go into business for themselves as mobile RV technicians.”

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Brian

19 people, basic course, kinda like the trucking industry huh…..? I don`t see any flags waving.

JohnG

I can attest to the quality of the training by Terry “Cooper” and the rest of the folks at NRVTA. I took my NRVIA inspector training there, along with some continuing education classes. In a phrase, “Very Comprehensive”. I recommend their user training to all my RV inspection clients.

When they talk about absorption refrigerators, they have a bunch of examples for hands-on training. When they talk about furnaces – same thing. When I went to Lippert training there, we installed an awning on a wall made for such things and had an opportunity to adjust slideout mechanisms. The two people I partnered with, in class, were the lead tech from PPL and one of his co-workers and they both said they learned a lot.

Cooper, Steve, Howard, and the rest of the good folks at NRVTA are serious about turning out skilled professionals, be they RV techs or RV inspectors, as well as very knowledgable RV owners.

But there’s another thing that they offer that is just as valuable – closed Facebook pages. That means that techs can privately ask other techs and inspectors can privately ask other inspectors about issues that they encounter, on the Facebook pages. The old hands hang out there and answer questions for the newbies and once in a while, we even ask a question and have it answered by a newbie. It’s all one big team.

Finally, there are the “Locator” pages. If you’re looking for an RV Inspector, there is the NRVIA Inspector Locator and for techs, there is the Road Life Project Tech Locator page.

Mark Lawler

Consumers don’t really question the need for a boat inspection by a certified expert before purchase, yet for some reason they don’t demand doing the same when it comes to RVs…

Ray Zimmermann

This is a very confusing, poorly written article. The second paragraph says the NRVTA “celebrated the first anniversary of completing its inaugural class.” The next sentence says the class started in October 2018 with 19 students and completed earlier this month (didn’t say how many of the students finished.) So it sounds like a one-year class, and they were really celebrating the first anniversary of STARTING the first class. Later in the article it talks about 419 students having completed training with 71 passing a certification exam and another 13 completing “all five weeks of training.” Am I the only one that’s confused as to what’s going on with this school?

Cindy Martin

While the grad rate is low, my real concern is Did the students learn what they need to know to the full extent they need to know it, did they get enough practice, and will they do a good job? I’d rather have a very well trained tech than one of the 97% who just got by or didn’t care enough.

Drew

It would be nice to find out how many rv owners have bothered to get themselves trained as well. This would really help their situations rather than a dependence on someone else.

Mary

Wow, that is a REALLY low percentage of students who passed. Programs like this are desperately needed so, hopefully, they can works towards better percentages in the future. Best of luck to them.

Fox

There is a college in Kelowna British Columbia Canada it has been offering an RV technician course for over a decade now

Bill T

Can you pay for and take the exams without taking the the training courses? I can only speak for myself but based on my practical experiences over the years and the fact that I would like to open my own mobile RV repair business, I believe paying the tuition fees for someone to show and tell me what I already have accomplished and are capable of doing, would be a waste of my time and money. Are these RV training academies tied to the RVIA? and are they just another revenue stream and a “must have” to be part of the RVIA’s recognized business circle?

Rosanne Drechsel

If the numbers in this article are accurate, we calculate course completion that resulted in certification at 3%! Maybe something is better than nothing. Maybe a big red barn with five classrooms and overhead observation bays is nice. Maybe it is a step in the right direction. It is nice to imagine learning a trade which includes, or should include, an electrical component, a plumbing component, as well as welding, glass and windows, woodworking and fine carpentery, more than two hours about safely using propane gas, and the list goes on. The article does not mention continuing education requirements to maintain one’s Certification. Maybe there are CEUs, maybe not. Maybe the Big Red Barn’s instructors know what they’re doing. Maybe 3% is good enough. One thing is for certain however, the sun will come up tomorrow. No maybes there!

Linda Brady

Apparently there are 2 RV Technician training centers in Florida, both located in or near Clearwater. One of their graduates recently moved near Gatlinburg, TN to open his own mobile repair business. Both my brother and sister living in that area are avid RVers and used his services; they are VERY impressed with this young man’s ability and skill in RV repair. While I agree well-trained RV Technicians are sorely needed at dealerships, I can also appreciate, and would prefer to call, a certified mobile tech to repair my motor home. If the problem with my RV is too big for him/her to handle, I know a GREAT, independent repair shop in Indiana.

Bob p

The big question is, are the dealerships willing to pay the technician a good wage as a result of their training or will they try to pay them the same as the untrained person washing the RVs.

Jeff

This was a GODSEND article. I live in Louisiana and only a short drive away from Athens, TX.

I will be looking into taking their RV Maintenance Course Early Next Year.

Thanks for posting this story.

Michael Gardner

Too little, too late! Maybe a step in the right direction, but just as clumsy as everything else the industry does. More techs don’t fix the poor quality designed into RVs today. Nor does it fix the low reimbursement for warranty work. Their web site HIDES the price of courses until you click the BUY button. This is completely disingenuous! I give them a C-