Oklahoma requires anyone who works on alternative fuel vehicles — those that run on natural gas, propane or electricity instead of gasoline or diesel — to have state certification.
Courses for CNG technicians are available through Oklahoma City Community College, Tulsa Technology Center, Autry Technology Center in Enid and the National Center for Employee Development in Norman.
Those who complete one of the courses must pass a state test to earn certification.
Oklahoma has more than 500 CNG-certified technicians, said Peggy Beaty, administrator of the alternative fuel technician examiners program at the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
She said about 80 state companies are certified as well after committing to hiring only certified technicians.
Lawson said about 125 students pass through Francis Tuttle's automotive program each year.
Once the CNG component is added to the school's curriculum, he said students will be ready to work on dedicated natural gas vehicles or those outfitted with bi-fuel systems so they can run on CNG and gasoline or diesel.
Lawson said he has seen demand for CNG technicians rising as more natural gas vehicles hit the road.
“Oklahoma is a leader in the compressed natural gas industry right now so we have a lot of outside states that actually come in and train in Oklahoma,” said Lawson, a member of the state's alternative fuels committee.