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Are you considering becoming a Certified RV Service Technician? Are you the type of person that loves working with your hands? Do you prefer taking something apart to see how it works instead of sitting at a desk working out logic-based problems? Does everyone come to you to fix various household or car issues?
If you have the talent and/or the interest, you might want to consider a career as an RV service technician. After high school, we’ll show you how to become a certified RV technician in less than 12 weeks.
In our discussion, you’ll learn about what a Certified RV Service Technician does, career opportunities, salary potentials, and how you can choose your career pathway instead of becoming stuck in a job.
What Does an RV Service Technician Do?
If you’re the type of person that enjoys being a jack-of-all-trades over doing the same thing day-in-and-day-out, this might be the right field for you. When you work on RVs, you’ll learn how to work in multiple fields, such as:
- Appliance Repair
- Computer Network Infrastructure
- Generator Repair
- Solar System Infrastructure
When you come into work each day, the day’s work order could be very different than the last one. Tasks could be as simple as replacing an exterior clearance light or as complex as rebuilding an RV interior. The average lifespan of an RV is 10-15 years, but you could see RVs from decades ago that need work so they can ride the road once again.
You’ll work on RVs from every category. Tiny teardrops, pop-ups, and truck campers. You could also be crawling through the inner working of the multi-million dollar luxury Class A motorhomes repairing or replacing the state-of-the-art technology.
RV service techs spend most of the day repairing interior and exterior problems on coach-related issues. Much of the work will deal with repairing or replacing features in the RV. The most common RV problems deal with plumbing, tires, roof leaks, seam openings, and house battery failures.
As you gain experience, you’ll have the opportunity to expand your knowledge base by certifying in other relevant fields. When you combine your RV Industry Association (RVIA) certified RV service technician endorsement with an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified mechanic training program, you’ll have the qualifications to work on the diesel and/or the gas automotive components in motorhomes.
In the next few years, the RV Industry will be introducing Class E RVs. These all-electric motorhomes will need RV service technicians with the proper training and experience to work on them. The motors will reside at each axle or behind each wheel. Qualified RV service technicians will also need to know how solar panel systems work since they will be an integral part of RV’s new category.
Why Become a Certified RV Service Technician?
There is a huge need for RV Service Technicians because RV sales have been at record levels for over a year! There are more RVs and RVers on the road than ever and the need for Certified RV Technicians is greater than ever. So, it should be easy to find a good paying job in this field.
In 2017, the RV industry sold over 500,000 new units. That was a record-breaking year. Despite the global issues of 2020, the industry saw a 30% sales increase in sales, and 2021 has projections of beating the record again with almost 550,000 new sales by the time the camping season ends.
As a certified RV service technician, you’re going to be busy. In the past few years, many first-time RVers have entered the RV lifestyle. There are YouTube videos and blogs on how to repair a lot of the simple issues. But, repair work is still seriously backlogged due to major repair problems and a shortage of certified RV service technicians to handle it.
No matter if an RV service center is a national brand like Camping World or a small local shop, RV owners are waiting weeks or months for their motorhome or travel trailer repair. There are two reasons for this: parts on backorder and not enough certified RV service technicians to handle the workload.
A quick search on the various online job boards will show you the common skills you need to be successful in this field:
- Self-discipline to get the job done
- The ability to explain the repair process to the customer in everyday language
- A willingness to continually learn new skills and methods
- Maintain the rules and spirit of the shop
RV Service Technician Job Opportunities
There are many RV service technician jobs available for qualified candidates. Most beginners from their training program start as Camping World RV technicians or find employment with other big chain dealers. The salary and benefits packages allow the techs to get their personal lives in order. More importantly, big shops like this expose them to every side of the RV service sector.
Most of these big shops have incentive programs that pay training and exam costs for additional certifications. If you decide you want to specialize in a particular area that requires certification, you may want to stick around for a few years to take advantage of the training benefit.
As a master-certified RV service technician, here are some other career opportunities you may want to think about once you’ve established a good resume.
Mobile RV Service Technician
Owning a business takes a lot of time, money, and effort. Establishing a physical location to work on RVs is challenging because finding the perfect place can be very elusive. There are many instances where your potential customers can’t reach you because their motorhome or travel trailer becomes unmovable.
Having a mobile RV repair service out of your van or pickup truck can be a great career choice. In the right general area, you can service a county with multiple campgrounds and public land. If you talk to a tax professional, they can show you how this work-from-home business can be cost-effective. Advertising your service with the local campgrounds, stores, and online media could make your business successful.
Mobile RV techs can wear many different hats. To add a service feature to your business, you could also become a certified RV inspector through the National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA). With an inspector certification, you’ll have the credentials to perform objective inspections for your customers that are looking to buy, sell, or need an appraisal on an RV.
Many companies that restore Classic Airstreams and Vintage travel trailers are always looking for qualified RV service technicians if you love RVs from the past. RVers that want these types of travel trailers generally want the coach to look and feel accurate to the era the manufacturer made it. Yet, the client will also want to enjoy some modern amenities that hide well.
For example, a client may want a 1965 Shasta AirFlyte that looks like it just came out of the production plant, but they also wish to add an LED TV and a tankless water heater on board. As the RV service tech, your job is to know how Shasta built the original RV, make modern construction materials look like it’s from 1965, and how to create a place to hide the TV when the owner’s not using it.
Other opportunities in the RV service technician field open doors in mobile homes and the personal watercraft industries. Indoor RV storage facilities hire RV service techs all the time. Full-service storage companies offer a menu of services that include preventive maintenance. Most even have an inspection service. If they identify a problem, some have service techs on staff to correct the problem. Most of the RVs that use indoor storage are luxury Class A motorhomes and Super C motorhomes.
RV Service Technician Salary
The best way to explain how much RV technicians make is to share an RV service technician job description for a big chain RV dealership posted on Monster.com:
“Technicians make between $40,000-$90,000 based on experience…we offer the opportunity to build a career, make a difference, and be part of an exciting industry. We boast a comprehensive benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, life insurance options, paid vacations, and a 401k with company matching.”
The company mentioned above is a big chain RV dealer that has multiple locations across the United States. Smaller RV dealerships might offer something similar or less when it comes to the benefits package.
Like most technician careers, you will be responsible for having a complete set of tools. During your education program, you’ll learn what tools you’ll need. As you interview with potential employers, if they don’t provide you with a list of tools you’ll need, a great question to ask the interviewer might be, “what tools will I need besides the ones I have already?” You might be all set, but employers love questions. It shows you’re engaged in the interview, and you’re genuinely interested in the position.
In the past, employers used to offer a tool allowance program to help pay for tools you needed to perform your job. Like the retirement pension, those programs are pretty much a thing of the past. Another question to ask on your second interview is if your potential employers have some type of discount program with a tool company that allows their employees to buy needed tools at a discount.
How to Become a Certified RV Service Technician
Two major governing bodies oversee the RV industry. The RV Industry Association (RVIA) sets the standards and policies for manufactures. The National RV Dealer’s Association (RVDA) works for the interests, education, and other retail dealers’ issues. Both organizations oversee the accreditation of RV service technician certificate programs.
If the training program uses federal financial aid or military veteran benefits, the schools have passed the Department of Education and VA standards, respectively. If you’re unsure, the school is required to provide you with information on their accreditation.
Certification programs are not college degrees. The credits you earn may not transfer as college credits if you choose to pursue a college degree later. For more information on how accreditation works, visit the Department of Education’s website.
Some Accredited RV Service Technician Training Programs
Employers are looking for RV service technicians that the RVIA and RVDA recognize. The RVIA has four levels of certification. To gain each level, you must pass an exam that an authorized agent proctors. The school you receive your training from needs to have an approved accreditation from the RVIA and RVDA.
Once you receive your training at each level, the school or a nearby testing agency will proctor the exam. Level one is valid your entire life. You must renew level 2-4 every 5 years. During the active years, you must receive 24 hours of training and take other steps to renew your certification.
Employers cover the expenses and put together all of the necessary things to make your recertification as smooth as possible. If you’re self-employed, there are agencies you can go to that have courses to renew your certification.
Here are some great training programs to become an RV service technician. There are many other programs out there that may be closer to your home. If you don’t live near these schools, use their curriculums and features to compare to the ones closest to you.
- National RV Training Academy (NRVTA)- Athens, Texas
- Finalizing Accreditation
- Registered RV Service Technician
- 1-week course and exam
- Advanced RV Service Technician
- 5-week course and exam
- Includes first level and additional courses
- Master RV Service Technician
- Additional 2-weeks and exam
- Eligible after Advanced program completion
- Recreational Vehicle Service Academy (RVSA) Palmetto, Florida
- Training students since 1986
- The program is 10-weeks long, classes are 8 hours a day, 5 days a week
- After training, students work in the field for one year in a paid externship situation
- Students receive Master certification after the externship is complete
- RVIA RV Technical Institute (RVTI) Elkhart, Indiana
- The RVIA has its own Technical Institute in Elkhart
- The curriculum is designed based on the four levels of certification that build on each other
- Level 1- one week $1,995 test on last day
- Level 2- 4 weeks $2,995 test on last two days
- Level 3 & 4 tests only
- RV Tech Training Center Clearwater, Florida
- $6,145 with admissions fee
- Accepts VA benefits
- 10-week program
- Requires High school diploma or GED
- Must have a laptop and your own set of tools