Editor’s Note: This column on the RVDA-RVIA Technician Certification Program from Rick Horsey, chairman of the RVDA Education Foundation board of directors and owner of Parkview RV Center, Smyrna, Del., is slated for publication in the November issue of RVDA’s RV Executive Today magazine and the fall issue of the RV Learning Center’s RV Technician magazine. The 16-year-old program, overseen by the RVDA-RVIA Technician Certification Governing Board, has currently certified 3,339 technicians in the U.S. and Canada.
Why would a technician want to go through the hassle and expense of certifying in their profession? First, let me explain what certification is, how to become certified and then share a personal story with you about why you may want to consider it.
What Is Certification?
First, certification is a way of assessing a body of knowledge that a worker needs to successfully complete their job. It must be based on a curriculum that identifies and validates “real world” duties and tasks performed by workers. The best way to validate a worker’s knowledge and skills is to assess. RVDA and RVIA developed a technician certification program in the early 1990s. It has helped thousands of technicians validate their level of knowledge and improve customer service.
How to Become Certified
There is only one way to become certified, and that is by taking the RV Service Technician Certification Test and receiving a passing score. There are a number of ways to prepare for the test and assure that you are successful. You can register for the RV Technician Certification Online Prep course or the FRVTA distance learning course. A complete set of textbooks that cover all of the subjects along with a study guide is available through RVIA for self-study. You could also attend an RVIA Trouble Shooter Clinic, which is not specifically designed for certification prep, but does provides hands-on training and much of the core knowledge evaluated by the test. The clinics are very useful when used in conjunction with other preparation programs. The least effective way would be to just sign up for the test without any preparation.
Certification has Other Benefits
You may also want to consider certification, because of what happened many years ago to our company and a technician, Ben. We were called to testify in a trial involving a gentleman, who I’ll call Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith had been seriously injured when his travel trailer exploded and was totally destroyed. Mr. Smith purchased the travel trailer from us new several years before the accident, but had never returned for any work.
After months of investigation by the Fire Marshall it was determined that the explosion was caused by an LP gas leak at the furnace. The vehicle manufacturer, furnace supplier, our company, and the technician were all named in the suit. I don’t know how many of you have been involved in a liability case like this, but the plaintiff ’s attorneys are looking for that special someone to take the blame and collect their check.We were very sad that someone was injured, and wanted to make sure that our company and Ben had performed our job correctly.
During the deposition, the attorneys asked Ben and us many questions. They asked Ben how long he had been an RV technician, what credentials and training he had, and the process he used in inspecting and preparing Mr. Smith’s RV. The opposing attorneys were trying to prove that Ben, and our company, were not credible. It was also during the deposition that we discovered Mr. Smith was a handyman who performed a lot of repairs on the RV himself, and that was why he had never returned for service. After hours of depositions the trial date was set.
During the trial, the first goal of our attorney was to establish Ben’s credibility with the jury. Our attorney had to prove that Ben was an honest person of integrity. Secondly, he had to prove Ben’s credentials were excellent, that he had the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to perform. And thirdly, that he had an excellent track record of performance.
Ben explained that he had worked as a technician for our company for 15 years and had never had been accused of being negligent and had a proven track record of quality work as a technician. He explained the process he used in preparing the RV for use and how he demonstrated the operation and use of the systems. Ben brought his RVDA-RVIA Certification certificate and explained that he had kept up his continuing education credits. It was difficult for the plaintiff ’s attorney to convince the jury that Ben was not competent, for that reason, and Ben was dismissed from the case after his testimony. The lawsuit was eventually dropped. It is our opinion that the RVDA-RVIA Certification was a major factor in establishing credibility with the jury and judge.
Whether you are employed by a service center or are an independent technician, certification is an insurance policy and demonstrates your expertise and competence in the field. Certification makes you a valuable employee, in the knowledge you possess, the efficiency you gain, and the credentials you carry. Certification brings a great sense of personal pride and assures your employer and customers that they are working with a knowledgeable and capable professional.
For more information about RV technician training and certification, visit www.rvtechnician.com or www.rvlearningcenter.com, send an e-mail to [email protected], or call the dealer services hotline.