Recreational vehicles are an affordable and comfortable method of transportation for cross-country travel. They are also efficient vessels for campground living. Over the last two years, there has been a significant increase in interest in RV travel and living. 2021 showed an increase of over 28% in RV Manufacturing and shipment in the US, leading to a demand for RV inspections.
The RV Inspector program is offered in Athens, Texas, through the National Recreation Vehicle Training Academy (NRVTA). The entire course is three weeks and 128 hours long. The prerequisites to the course are a high school diploma, GED, college, university diploma, or satisfactory score on an approved entrance exam.
What Is An RV Inspector?
An RV inspector views and inspects an RV to report on the operational status of the systems common in today’s RVs. They are not the same as an RV technician who repairs and maintains an RV, similar to a mechanic but with more knowledge of the operational systems specific to RVs. A person can be both a technician and inspector if they have completed the appropriate training. To be a certified NRVIA a person must complete the training, pass the exam, remain up to date with their annual membership dues of $299 per year, and complete 24 hours of continuing education per year.
Certified inspectors can find employment with a variety of employers. Lenders require an inspection before financing the purchase of an RV, much like a home inspection. The insurance industry, inspection firms, RV Dealerships, extended service agreement companies, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also employ RV Inspectors.
You can also start your own business, though running your own business is no small feat. Your member organizations and the SBA can provide support for the administrative aspects of your RV Inspection business.
Why Do RVs Need Inspections?
RV Industry Association (RVIA) member RV Manufacturers are monitored by the Standards Department Inspection Program to ensure compliance with the Associated Standards set out by various government organizations including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
But what if you are not purchasing from a member manufacturer, your vehicle is an older model, or you have made modifications to your vehicle? The registration process in every state requires a Department of Transportation (DOT) minimum inspection for safety and emission compliance. Depending on the state and the class or type of RV, it may also need a certified unloaded vehicle weight. Inspections are also required for most financing and insurance. Talk to your insurance agent before purchasing. Each state has its regulations regarding the extent of the required inspection.
An RV inspection looks at the outside, inside, and operations of the key RV systems. This includes but is not limited to checking the exterior for visual defects, propane systems, heating systems including the water heater, both DC and AC electrical systems, plumbing systems, RV refrigerator, and air conditioner. There are 41 key points to observe and investigate for their functionality and safety. Each section has subsections, though not all areas will apply to all vehicles.
A level one inspection closely resembles a safety inspection. They will check the brakes, brake pads, lights and wiring harness, the structural integrity of the tongue, the tires, and the general state of the frame. This inspection can cost anywhere from $150 – $600, depending on the size and class of the RV.
A level two inspection is more thorough and takes longer. It includes the state of the engine and lab tests of all fluids. RVs can have harmful bacteria like Legionella hiding in the water tanks and reservoirs as well as campsite water stations. It can take eight hours for the inspection and up to a week for the lab results and cost more than a level one, around $600 – $1200.
How To Become An RV Inspector
The National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association (NRVIA Certification) gives credibility to its members and comfort to the customer knowing a knowledgeable and impartial RV Inspector is conducting their inspection. To become a certified RV Inspector you must complete an approved training program, stay current on your continuing education and maintain your dues.
The National RV Training Academy offers three training programs.
Educate RV Owners
This program aims to educate and empower the everyday RV enthusiast. There are three courses — RV Fundamentals Training, Generators, and Solar.
The Recreational Vehicle Technician can repair and maintain an RV but is not an RV Inspector. This program offers two courses — RV Fundamentals Training and RVTAA Registered RV Service Technician Certification Exam Review.
A Certified RV Inspector is someone who has completed the courses outlined in the RV Inspector Training Program and passed the NRVIA Certified Inspectors Exam. Successful completion of the program and exam demonstrates that they understand the major systems of an RV and the proper procedures to investigate them. To maintain your certification you must follow the NRVIA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice in your business, complete 24 hours of continuing education every year, and pay the annual fees.
RV Inspector or Home Inspector
There are many areas of overlap between a home inspection and an RV inspection. The most notable is that an RV is meant to move and can have an engine, depending on the class, whereas a house is not commonly considered readily movable and usually has a foundation. Both inspectors need an understanding of the appliances and systems of a home. The RV Inspector needs an understanding of the mechanics and the Home Inspector requires an understanding of foundations.
The regulations for both vary from state to state, and so do the requirements to acquire one certification if you already have the other. Check online at the NRVIA for more information.
RV Inspector’s Salary
On average, RV inspectors make a yearly income of $41,984, depending on the state. As the trend toward alternative, mobile, and modular housing continues to rise, so will the demand for RV and Home Inspectors.
Becoming an RV Inspector is a strong choice if you are an RV enthusiast, a Home Inspector, or a mechanic looking to add a skill set. With dedication, hard work, and a genuine interest in RVs, you can gain your RV Inspectors Certification in less than one month.