In the parking lot at a Portland business park, a group of women gathers around a parked RV trailer, learning how to check the pressure of the trailer’s propane tanks.
“If it goes over 14 water column, what would you do?” instructor Bill Stewart asks. “Replace the regulator,” replies student Stephanie Morse, providing the correct answer.
The all-female class is part of a weeklong course aimed at earning a level one certification as an RV technician. This initiative comes as the RV industry experiences significant growth, driven by increasing popularity among younger generations and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a higher demand for skilled RV technicians.
Stewart, the director of education at the RV Technical Institute (RVTI), highlights the importance of diversity in the industry, stating that a diverse workforce brings various perspectives and skill sets, resulting in better problem-solving and improved customer service, according to a report by the KGW8.
The RV Women’s Alliance (RVWA) has partnered with RVTI to offer five weeklong courses across the country in Oregon, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas.
These courses focus on seven crucial areas in RV maintenance: propane, water, electrical, appliances, generators, body, and chassis. As RVs become more technologically advanced, integrating solar power, electric systems, and smart devices, it is crucial for technicians to stay up-to-date with the latest innovations.
Student Stephanie Morse, an eight-year veteran of the RV industry, shares her experience in the class.
“I’ve learned a lot. Today’s day two and I’ve learned a lot of the ‘why’s’. I know the procedures, but I don’t know all the back stories of why we do things and how things totally operate,” Morse said.
Misty Meznarsic, another participant, traveled from Illinois to attend the class. She stated, “For me, it’s personal. I camp a lot and I go by myself often. I would feel a lot more secure being able to handle anything on my own.”
According to Stewart, women make up only about 5% of the RV industry. He believes that women should not be apprehensive about joining the male-dominated field, as they bring a valuable attention to detail.
“They have more tendency to ask excellent questions, and they are getting a better understanding of the RVs, what they do and how they function, and it makes my job a lot easier,” Stewart said.
The course opens up multiple career paths for participants. “Some of them may go in and be service advisors. Some of them may go in and be technicians,” Stewart explained.
RVTI plans to add another class in the northwest next year, but the specific location and date have yet to be announced.
By offering these classes and encouraging women to join the industry, the RVWA and RVTI aim to create a more diverse and skilled workforce to meet the rising demands of the growing RV industry.