In recent years, Oklahoma has revised its certification requirements for technicians working in the compressed natural gas (CNG) industry, yet the training available for certification is limited nationwide. Oklahoma City Community College’s (OCCC) Professional Development Institute (PDI) says it is filling the gap with training that will provide technicians with the knowledge and skills needed to acquire certification through the Oklahoma Department of Labor (ODOL), as well as give out-of-state technicians credentials.
Only one other state besides Oklahoma currently has requirements for technicians working on CNG compressors and vehicles. Nationally, the industry recognizes licensing certification from the Canadian Standards Association, but only one or two states have actually adopted it as a standard.
The ODOL issues certifications to technicians who work on alternative fueled vehicles and refueling/recharging infrastructure after they have met training and experience requirements, demonstrated a set of skills, and passed a written exam. OCCC’s PDI worked closely with the ODOL to specifically design courses that will best prepare technicians for this process.
Courses are a hybrid model between online and on location learning. This gives technicians more hands-on experience while at PDI, rather than them spending several hours in a lecture setting.
“The students taking these courses are experienced technicians that have been working in the field previously and are now preparing for the shift in their companies to CNG vehicles and/or the addition of CNG refueling,” says course instructor Craiton Cooper. “Technicians don’t want to spend time viewing a PowerPoint presentation in a classroom; they want to learn through a more hands-on approach, and our training takes this into consideration.”
“We have had technicians from all over the country come to the PDI to train. Although their state may not officially recognize Oklahoma’s certification, it is still a government-issued credential they can have under their belt,” adds Cooper.
PDI introduced the CNG Compressor Maintenance Operator, Level 1 training two years ago and will soon be the first in the state to launch the CNG Compressor Level 2 technician testing.
Additionally, PDI is currently developing a diagnostic and repair course geared toward fleet technicians who service CNG vehicles. Existing online alternative fuels training will also be expanded and made available as continuing education or for general knowledge. The new diagnostic and repair course and the expanded online training will be available later this spring. All of PDI’s alternative fuels training is fully mobile, allowing PDI to bring its training to a fleet or company anywhere outside of Oklahoma.