The Pros and Cons of a Recreational Vehicle Technician Career
RV technicians are responsible for the diagnosis, maintenance and repair of various types of recreational vehicles (RVs). Consider the pros and cons listed below to determine if this is the best occupation for you.
|Pros of Being an RV Technician Career|
|Good job growth (between 8% and 14% from 2012-2022)**|
|College degree is generally not required***|
|Job benefits could include 401(k), medical, and dental*|
|Job skills can be applied to a variety of fields (plumbing, hydraulics, engine repair, heating and air conditioning)****|
|Cons of Being an RV Technician Career|
|Below average annual salary (median of $35,630 in 2014)**|
|May need to provide your own tools*|
|Exposure to hazardous materials*****|
|Heavy lifting is required*****|
|May have to work overtime without notice*****|
Sources: *2012 Monster.com job posting, **O*Net Online, ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ****iseek.org, *****rvst.org.
Job Description and Duties
RV technicians diagnose, maintain and repair different types of RVs, including truck campers, motor homes, travel trailers and van campers. They also repair RV appliances and generators. Other duties include repairing frayed wiring, preparing cost estimates and testing the operation of toilets, drawers, light fixtures and appliances. Some RV technicians specialize in hydraulics, plumbing, gas or electric.
Automotive repair shops, automotive equipment rental companies and motor home dealerships hire RV technicians. RV technicians are also employed at RV parks and transportation equipment manufacturing facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of an RV technician in 2013 was $35,000. The career outlook is good, with jobs expected to increase between 8% and 14% through 2022, which is average when compared with all occupations.
What Are the Requirements?
Most employers require at least a high school diploma or GED for employment and may provide on-the-job training for entry-level RV technician positions. The completion of a vocational certificate program in RV maintenance and repair technology could also prepare you for work as an RV technician. A certificate program for aspiring RV technicians typically includes courses in gas, heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems, in addition to appliance repair.
As an aspiring RV technician, you should have good customer service skills in order to interact with clients. Familiarity with hand and power tools is also important. Knowledge of computers, electronics and construction is another requirement for working on RVs. Following are some of the other skills you will need to become a successful RV technician: *manual and finger dexterity, *arm-hand steadiness, *critical thinking, *complex problem solving, *equipment maintenance, repair, operation and control, *ability to select the right tools for the job, and *deductive reasoning
Job Postings from Real Employers
Some employers are willing to train RV technicians, while others require experience. Many require you to provide your own tools. Here are some actual job postings from April 2012:
- An RV dealership in Virginia wants a candidate with experience repairing air conditioning, heating, plumbing and wiring to repair RVs. The company is willing to train.
- A Missouri company is looking for an RV technician with 1-2 years of experience repairing machinery, RVs or farm equipment. Experience with wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning is also required. Candidate must provide his own tools.
- A company in Houston is seeking an RV technician with coach experience to repair RVs and convert luxury buses. Candidate must be able to pass a test on RV repair.
- A large retailer wants to hire RV technicians at multiple locations to repair RVs and appliances. At least two years of experience in addition to certification in a trade such as plumbing, carpentry or HVAC are required.
How to Stand Out
Completing a certificate or other college-level program in RV repair could give you an edge in obtaining employment. While postsecondary education is not required, experience is a common requirement in this field, and if you're just starting out, a certificate program could give you hands-on experience and knowledge that could supplement work experience in the field.
Some employers may require or prefer that applicants hold certification. Earning industry certification could help you demonstrate a level of nationally recognized competence in this field. You can earn certification through agencies like the Recreational Vehicle Service Technician organization or the National RV Dealers Association.
Other Careers to Consider
Home Appliance Repairer
If you have mechanical ability and like to work with your hands, but don't care to work in an automotive shop, you can become a home appliance repairer. Home appliance repairers travel to customers' homes to install or repair appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators. Like RV technicians, home appliance repairers usually obtain employment without a postsecondary education. The pay is similar, too, since home appliance repairers earned a median annual wage of $35,000 in 2011. However, the job prospects aren't as good, with only 7% growth expected from 2010-2020, which is slower than average.
Small Engine Mechanic
Small engine mechanics test, maintain and repair engines in a wide variety of motorized equipment, including chainsaws, motorcycles, outboard motors and lawnmowers. Some employers require formal training, while others offer on-the-job training. Small engine mechanics generally work in repair shops, although onsite repairs at a customer's home are sometimes required. In 2011 the median annual wage of a small engine mechanic was around $30,000. Job prospects are very good, with job opportunities expected to increase by approximately 21% from 2010-2020.