What’s the Difference Between a Registered and Certified RV Technician?

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Did you know there is more than one type of RV Technician?

Actually, it depends on whom you ask. Nationwide, there are several schools that issue training and credentials to RV service technicians.

Fair warning: It’s a thick alphabet soup.

Who Issues RV Technician Certifications?

There is no singular authority for an RV Technician Certification. Nor do any states (currently) require any proof of certification for business licensing. A practicing RV Technician is not required to possess any certification, but certification demonstrates professional commitment and experience.

Each school sets their own training standards. Coursework usually ranges from 5-10 weeks long, 40 hours of hands-on training per week.

The industry-sponsored vocational school is the RV Technical Institute (RVTI). RVTI is associated with the RV Industry Association (RVIA), which is in turn associated with the RV Dealers Association (RVDA). RVTI offers online, in-person, and hybrid education.

There are several other independent vocational schools. Currently, these schools all require in-person hands-on training; online training is not available. These places of learning include the National RV Training Academy (NRTVA), the RV Tech Training Center (RVTC), and the Recreational Vehicle Service Academy (RVSA). Furthermore, the NRVTA is associated with the RV Technician Association of America (RVTAA) and National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA).

Clear as mud, eh?

The important thing to know is that dealerships and employers all over the country accept these self-issued certifications based on the excellent reputations of these schools and their graduates.

Industry-Deprecated Technician Levels

In 2019 and earlier, there were three levels of RV Technician according to the conventional RVDA/RVIA training path:

  • Registered
  • Certified
  • Master

You can think of these levels as Good/Better/Best.

RVTI Technician Levels

RVIA and RVDA created the RVTI in 2019. The next year, in 2020, new levels were introduced for RV Technician certification training for RVTI. They were:

  • Certified Level 1
  • Certified Level 2
  • Certified Level 3
  • Mastered Certified Level 4 (Master)

As you can see, the term “Registered” Technician is now deprecated.

A Level 1 Technician is essentially a trained PDI Inspector. A Level 2 Inspector can perform general diagnostics and repair. A Level 3 Technician has additional factory-authorized training in systems appliances such as generators, slide-outs, water heaters, etc. A Level 4 Technician is like the Avatar, combining all the elements into one Master technician with years of experience.

Unfortunately, the name change has caused some confusion, as now a Certified Level 1 Technician is similar to a previous “Registered” Technician rather than a previous “Certified” Technician.

NRVTA Technician Levels

The NRVTA chose to adopt a different system for RV technician certification. Their levels are:

  • Registered
  • Advanced
  • Master

Similarly to the RVTI Level 1 program, a Registered Technician is trained to conduct a thorough PDI and repair simple issues. An Advanced Technician goes through a full-time 5-week course with technical instruction in air conditioners and heat pumps, exterior systems, absorption refrigerators, furnaces, and water heaters. A Master Technician must, at a minimum, have earned their Advanced Certification, practiced for 3 years in the field, and received additional training in solar and generator systems.

Other Certification Levels

Other RV Technician training centers may set their own Certification. Both the RVSA and RVTC currently offer a single Certification after completing 10 weeks of study; the RVSA further awards “Master” certification to a graduate with one year of successful field experience.

Which RV Technician Level Do I Need?

If you’re wondering which RV Technician you need, we’ll try to answer.

A Level 1/Registered/Basic RV Technician can perform PDI Inspections and basic handyman repairs, but may lack the knowledge to troubleshoot, repair, or install appliances.

A Level 2/Level 3/Advanced RV Technician can diagnose and repair most of your RV! If you have a specialty system or appliance, such as a hydronic heating system or a basement generator, ask the Technician if they have applicable training or experience with that system. Most OEMs offer specialty training on their products, such as Lippert, Truma, Aqua-Hot, etc.

A Level 4/Master RV Technician should be able to diagnose or repair almost any system or appliance on your RV. However, Master Certification is not a guarantee that the Technician will be up-to-date on the newest appliances. And their additional experience and training may not be necessary for the majority of RV repairs.

At Sterling RV Services, we’ve made the choice to only send out Level 2/Level 3/Advanced RV Technicians for general service calls. In other words, we don’t send out Level 1/Registered RV Technicians for any diagnostics work. You deserve someone with the knowledge to fix almost any issue that might come up.