Oertle began his career as a woodcarver. Like his father before him, the chainsaw was his tool of choice, and wood his medium. Over the years, Oertle began to develop his sculpting to allow for other mediums. After becoming a teacher of sculpture, and beginning to work in bronze, Oertle decided to seek out academic training. He completed degrees at Old Lyme, Connecticut, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. In writing about his art, Oertle states: "The ability to capture the physical and spiritual part of man is to me the essence of art and sculpture."