RV Industry's Record Growth Creates Many Job Opportunities
RESTON, Va., April 30, 2007 /PRNewswire-- The RV industry has enjoyed five straight years of record manufacturer-to-dealer shipments. The result of this explosive growth is the creation of an abundance of job openings at all levels within the industry, from sales to service to administration.
"We are a growing, vibrant industry that needs more workers," says Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). "We expect this growth trend to continue over the next decade. It's a great time to begin a career in the RV industry."
As an example of what the industry is doing to attract more workers, a consortium of RV manufacturers, including Oregon-based Monaco Coach Corp. and Country Coach, recently launched a program that includes:
-- hosting RV manufacturing tours for guidance counselors, high school
teachers and students.
-- producing a DVD that features RV career information and distributing it widely to high school and community college students.
-- working with a local community college to develop a curriculum to address RV careers.
As the industry builds more recreational vehicles, openings abound for new RV service technicians. In recent years, community and technical colleges through a nationwide RV service technician traing programs have provided a steady stream of RV service technicians to the RV industry. The National Recreation Vehicle Technical Institute (NRVTI) offers an RV industry-developed curriculum that trains students in the diverse technical fields required of an RV service technician.
RVIA's NRVTI recently added Spartanburg (SC) Community College to its program, the third tech school in the last three years and seventh overall to offer training in RV maintenance and repair.
"These RV education programs train students to go from school directly to work at dealerships," says Wade Crounse, RVIA director of education.
The RV industry also has discovered that the NRVTI program is an effective tool to attract new workers to the industry. "Many students learn about RV career opportunities when they come across the RV-related curriculum offered by the community colleges in our program," says Steve Plemmons, who owns an RV dealership in North Carolina and works closely with Forsyth Technical College in Winston-Salem. "These training programs are definitely attracting people to work in our industry."
In addition to Spartanburg and Winston-Salem, the NRVTI program is taught in schools in Elkhart, IN; Lake City, FL; Bethlehem, PA; Waco, TX; and Fitzgerald, GA.
Because technology is constantly changing, the RV industry has developed education programs to provide continual training to increase the knowledge and skills required of RV service technicians. RV techs works on very sophisticated machines that include intricate electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.
"Kids are naturally drawn to cars, but we are developing ways to reach young people about the career opportunities in the RV field, especially the need for technicians," says Crounse. "We stress the value of continual RV education and learning technical skills that people will be able to use throughout their lives. Good RV techs are always in demand."
Bruce Antonwich, 48, spent 23 years in the printing business before he decided to switch careers in 2003. He enrolled in the NRVTI program at Northampton Community College in at Bethlehem, Pa where he learned to become a service technician and ultimately earn certification by RVIA. As a student, Antonwich got hands-on training at DeWalt's RV dealership in Easton, Pa. where he's now a full-time employee. He enjoys his new trade and is glad he made the career switch.
"I love the day-to-day challenge of maintaining and repairing RVs," says Antonwich. "One thing I like about it is not doing the same thing every day. I also enjoy interacting with our customers, talking to them and explaining how their RV systems work. I hope I can continue doing this until I retire."
The starting pay for a majority of RV service technicians ranges from $20,000-$40,000 while most earn between $40,000-$70,000 after several years on the job.
Along with NRVTI schools, there are several industry-wide, Internet-based education programs that help dealership employees grow in their careers and achieve better results:
Distance Learning Network (DLN) -- http://www.northampton.edu/distancelearn/programs/rv_default.htm In addition to Northampton Community College, The RV Training Institute at Lake City (FL) Community College, in partnership with the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and the Florida RV Trade Association offers a distance-learning program for the RV industry. DLN provides video-based training on RV repair and maintenance via the Internet.
RV Learning Center -- Provides certification programs and resources aimed at educating dealers and their employees on all aspects of the dealership, from parts to service to the sales floor. The RV Learning Center's website (http://www.rvlearningcenter.com) includes a Career Opportunities section that highlights the various positions that RV dealerships offer those looking for a career and how to contact a local dealer.
E-Learning (http://www.RVST.org) -- An RVIA interactive program to keep all service technicians up to date in the latest products and technology also is under development and expected to be available later this year. To learn more about career opportunities in industry, visit http://www.rvia.org and click on technical information and training.