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How To Become Forklift Certified in 5 Simple Steps

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Have you ever worked in a warehouse and seen those forklifts going back and forth, moving huge loads?

It’s an interesting job indeed, but you need to have certain certifications to be able to do it. So, how to become forklift certified?

Luckily, pursuing this type of career isn’t too hard. You don’t even need to spend a ton of money or time to get certified.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about acquiring forklift certification, among other helpful information.

An Overview of Forklift Certifications: A Primer

Forklift operators are responsible for loading and transporting heavy goods using a powered industrial truck.

They usually work in warehouses, factories, ports, construction sites, etc. This makes it an on-demand job in various industries.

As a forklift driver, your duties include:

  • Transporting pallet-packed cargo from one place to the other.
  • Loading and unloading goods from or to different vehicles.
  • Stacking merchandise in their assigned place.
  • Locating and moving products for shipment.
  • Checking load quality and reporting any found damages or shortages.
  • Performing basic equipment maintenance.
  • Adhering to all safety regulations.
  • Complying with the company’s policies and employees’ guidelines.
  • Keeping records of the inventory.

How Much Do Forklift Certified Drivers Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for forklift operators is $38,380 per year. The job has a growth rate expectancy of 7% between 2021 and 2031, about as fast as the average for other occupations.

Although the hourly rate for such a job varies from one state to the other, the average base salary stands at $17.63 per hour.

Forklift operators earn the most in places such as North Dakota and Colorado, with over 25% more than the average. As for Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and some neighboring states, the pay is 5%–14% lower than the average.

Aside from the location, the total income also depends on where you work, how experienced you are, and any overtime you do.

What You Will Need To Become a Forklift Certified Driver [& Associated Costs]

To work as a forklift driver, you should be over 18 years of age with a high school diploma.

Yet, unlike many people’s beliefs, you don’t need to have a personal driver’s license or CDL to apply for forklift certification.

As stated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you must pass three main stages to become a certified forklift operator:

  • Formal Instruction: This means getting the proper education, whether through lectures, online classes, videos, or books. It should cost you between $40 to $60 for the course alone.
  • Hands-on Forklift Training: The practical training portion of the process is watching a trainer’s demonstration of how to operate a forklift and performing the same practice as training. It’s typically a part of the full course, costing you $200 to $280 in total.
  • Evaluation and Certification: Once you finish the forklift operator training, the instructor should give you a confirmation of completion. Then, they evaluate your performance operating a forklift at the workplace.

Other Skills a Successful Forklift Operator Should Have

Aside from the certifications, forklift drivers should possess certain skills. Although they’re not a must, becoming a professional forklift operator is easier when having the following skills:

  • Attention to detail
  • Spatial awareness
  • Familiarity with heavy equipment
  • Great physical condition
  • Excellent body coordination
  • Ability to work well with other people
  • Understanding of forklift safety and health standards.

How Much Does It Cost To Become Forklift Certified?

The total education cost, hands-on forklift training, and OSHA standard evaluation doesn’t exceed $300.

Note that the initial certification needs renewal every three years, which costs $60–$90. Yet, some facilities offer free renewal with their forklift license-issuing courses.

Is It Hard To Become Forklift Certified?

Even though driving a forklift isn’t quite the same as driving a car, it’s not too hard to master. The process of classroom instructions and forklift operator training itself isn’t too long either. So, you shouldn’t worry much about that.

How Long Does It Take To Become Forklift Certified?

Depending on where you receive your education and training, becoming a certified forklift operator shouldn’t take more than a couple of days. The online classes alone require one to three hours of your time.

As for the in-person classes, you can usually complete them over one to two days. This includes four to eight hours of educational material, followed by hands-on training lasting for 15–20 minutes.

After that, your trainer evaluates your performance and gives you the license.

Upon hiring, you may have to take additional site-specific training, depending on the type of job. That’s only to ensure OSHA compliance with safety and health standards.

How To Become Forklift Certified in Five Simple Steps

Becoming forklift certified requires you to work on a shift basis, moving and stacking materials.

Aside from being of proper age, you need to follow a few steps to earn your forklift operation certification.

Step #1: Get the Necessary Education and Experience

While numerous positions don’t require a high school diploma, most employers prefer to hire forklift operators with a high school education.

This isn’t a must-follow step, but it can give you huge advantages when applying for jobs in the future.

As a forklift operator, you work in environments you need to get accustomed to.

Whether it’s a construction site or a warehouse, experience working in such places is highly beneficial. You get used to the system, loud noises, and other extreme conditions.

That’s why it helps to pick up a few shifts at any similar place as a worker and observe your surroundings.

Step #2: Determining the Type of Certification

Forklift drivers work on various types of trucks specifically designed for different work conditions, such as uneven terrain and narrow aisles.

As a forklift operator, knowing how to drive most classes of trucks is a tremendous advantage. That’s why it’s best to choose a certification covering all classes, which are:

  • Class I: Electric forklift
  • Class II: Electric forklift (narrow aisles)
  • Class III: Electric hand/rider forklift
  • Class IV: Internal combustion engine forklift with solid/cushion tires
  • Class V: Internal combustion engine forklift with pneumatic tires
  • Class VI: Internal combustion engine and electric tractors
  • Class VII: Rough terrain forklift

Step #3: Complete an OSHA-approved Training Program

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for forklift licensing.

That’s why finding an OSHA-approved program taught by a certified instructor should be your next step. You must confirm that this course grants you OSHA approval upon finishing.

You can finish the formal instruction part of the program through online training websites. After that, all you need to do is complete a short test.

In-person courses are also available and are similar to classroom teaching, consisting of lectures, written material, etc.

In all cases, any forklift training program should teach you the following:

  • Operating the truck of choice, including all the forklift safety measures, precautions, and limitations.
  • Steering and maneuvering the forklift while maintaining its stability.
  • Installing different machinery attachments.
  • Stacking, loading, and unloading various load sizes.
  • Maintaining and properly inspecting the equipment.
  • Charging electrical trucks or fueling internal combustion trucks.
  • Driving the forklift safely around workmates.

Step #4: Perform Hands-on Training

In this step, your trainer should give you a full demonstration of how to operate a forklift on an actual truck. You also get to perform some exercises on a forklift as a trainee to get the hang of it.

This is where the online part of your course ends, as you must perform the hands-on training in person and under the trainer’s supervision.

Step #5: Take the Evaluation and Get Your License

Once you complete the forklift operator training period, the trainer evaluates your performance operating a forklift. Passing this step means you’re officially an OSHA-certified forklift driver.

At this stage, you can receive proof of training completion as a certificate or a forklift license with your name and details on it.

Reasons To Consider Becoming Forklift Certified

If you don’t like working in an office in front of a computer screen doing tons of paperwork, becoming a forklift driver can be a suitable job.

So, here are a few reasons for you to consider becoming forklift certified.

  • High Demand: Throughout the country, forklift drivers are in high demand for all different kinds of work. Thus, finding a job as a forklift operator can be relatively easier than other careers.
  • Good Pay: As a forklift-certified driver, you can earn a great income. Although it depends on the location and employer, the average pay for such a job exceeds $30,000.
  • Variety of Opportunities: You don’t only get to work in a chain store’s warehouse. Forklift drivers can find great opportunities in construction, maintenance, dock work, and various other venues.
  • Chances of Working Outside: It gives you a chance to work outdoors without a boss constantly monitoring you. Whether at a dock, special events, or construction site, it’s always an exciting job.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a forklift?

A standard-capacity electric forklift can cost between $20,000 and $45,000.

This price doesn’t include the additional charges for a battery and charger, which are about $2,500–$5,000. As for internal combustion forklifts, they can cost you over $50,000.

Those numbers depend on many factors, such as the manufacturer, forklift capacity, and type.

What size forklift can I drive?

The size and type of forklift you can drive as a licensed operator depends on your certification class. If you have all seven classes, there are no size restrictions to the forklift you can operate.

Similar Gigs To Check Out

Do you think driving a forklift isn’t the right gig for you? No worries. You can find many more opportunities matching your skill set.

Check out the following idea.

  • How To Become a UPS Driver: If you’re more into driving cars and delivering packages to customers, then becoming a UPS driver is what you should do. It’s a fast-paced job with an active nature keeping you always on the go.
  • How To Become a Security Guard: Whether for a stationary position or a patrol area, becoming a security guard is rewarding. It can also make a great part-time job with various scheduling possibilities.
  • How to Become a DoorDash Driver: This is another delivery job with the potential for high earnings. As a DoorDash driver, you can be your own boss driving whenever and wherever you like.

Wrapping Up

Forklifts are essential machinery used to transport cargo in many industries. The demand for professional forklift operators is always high. That’s why it makes an excellent work opportunity.

Although operating a forklift doesn’t require having a driver’s license, it mandates an OSHA-approved forklift certification.

Knowing how to become forklift certified is the first step you should take to pursue such a career.

Tell us what you think about forklift operators in the comments below, and share this article with your friends if you think it’s useful.

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