How to Get Forklift Certified

How to Get Forklift Certified

Whether you need to get yourself or the operators on your team forklift certified, you must understand what to do and what’s expected. Because forklifts are pieces of heavy equipment, they’re potentially dangerous if operated without the proper training and certification. Find out how to get forklift certified, how long training takes, and the answers to other frequently asked questions about forklift training.

What Forklift Drivers Do

Forklift drivers operate forklifts, which are a type of industrial machinery used to lift and transport heavy loads. Forklift drivers work in various warehouses, manufacturing facilities, construction sites, and other industrial operations. Workers use forklifts to lift pallets, heavy materials, and other large, bulky items. Forklifts have a high lift capacity, meaning they can lift and carry extremely heavy loads several feet in the air. For example, forklifts are often used in warehouses to lift heavy pallets on or off storage shelves.

Forklift uses differ from operation to operation, though one thing remains consistent — operators must be certified to operate a forklift. There are many ways to get certified, and requirements may vary from state to state, so it’s best to consult with your employer or a certified training program in your area.

How Do I Get a Forklift Certification?

Certification is important to ensure safety in the workplace. Luckily, forklift certification is relatively simple to get. Most employers that need forklift operators will provide certification classes internally or through a third-party certification program. Other employers may require certification before hiring an operator, so you may want to look for certification classes at a local forklift dealership, community colleges, online programs, or trade schools. 

You’ll learn basic Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety rules, forklift-specific regulations, and how to operate the machine and conduct routine inspections. OSHA certification requires classroom and practical training, and then you must pass the forklift exam and evaluation:

  • Classroom training: The classroom portion of the training can be conducted online, via video, in person, or using a combination of these. You’ll get the necessary knowledge to operate a forklift successfully.
  • Practical training: Practical training allows you to demonstrate and practice the concepts you learned in the classroom in hands-on situations.
  • Exam and evaluation: Once you complete the classroom and practical training, you’ll take a written exam, and your instructor will evaluate your new skills. You can immediately print your certification and legally operate a forklift if you pass your exam and evaluation.

How Do I Get a Forklift Certification?

Forklift operators must get recertified every three years to continue operating these machines. You also may need to get recertified if you were in a forklift accident or near-miss or are operating the machine dangerously, among other situations.

Types of Forklifts

When you get forklift certified, you’ll need to specify which type or types of forklifts you’ll be operating. You must have certifications for each type of forklift you’ll operate. You can get certified in seven classes of forklifts:

  1. Internal combustion engine trucks with pneumatic tires
  2. Internal combustion engine trucks with cushion tires
  3. Electric and internal combustion engine tractors
  4. Electric motor hand or rider trucks
  5. Electric motor rider trucks
  6. Electric motor narrow aisle trucks
  7. Rough terrain forklift

If you need to operate a different type of forklift than usual, you’ll have to go through another class to get certified for the specific forklift. Avoid operating any machinery you’re not certified to use. Many employers are usually pretty good about giving operators time to obtain certification, though you should know what you can and can’t operate. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Forklift Certified?

How long it takes you to get forklift certified ultimately depends on where you take your course and whether you have any prior forklift experience. Forklift training typically takes one to two days to complete and could be completed sooner. If you complete training with your employer, you may be able to get certified within six to eight hours if your instructor has the time to dedicate to your class. Training with a local certification program or trade school will likely depend on class availability.

Remember that only the classroom training can be completed online — you’d still need to find somewhere to complete practical training. The best online forklift certification programs should help you find somewhere to finish training, though this could lengthen the process.

If you have previous forklift experience or are getting recertified, you may be able to complete your training significantly faster. For example, a forklift operator with years of experience may only spend a couple of hours to get recertified. Luckily, you can complete forklift training relatively quickly compared to other types of industrial machines.

Forklift Certification FAQs

If you’re interested in forklift certification, you may have more questions. Here are the answers to several other frequently asked questions regarding forklift certification and a career as a forklift operator.

  • Are forklift certifications transferable? If your forklift certification is still valid, you may be able to transfer it to a new employer. While some employers may accept transferred certifications, others may simply use it as a way to verify you’ve had a certification. Every employer has different standards and training requirements, so you may be required to complete new training and certification rather than transfer your current certification.
  • Do forklift certifications expire? Yes, forklift certifications expire after three years. As your expiration date approaches, you want to make arrangements to get recertified.
  • How long does a forklift certification class take? The length of a forklift certification class varies, though most can be completed within a day or two.
  • How much does forklift certification cost? Forklift certifications typically cost between $50 and $200, depending on where you take your course. If you’re getting certified independently, you’ll have to cover the cost. Some employers may pay for certification to ensure their employees get certified.
  • How much do forklift operators make? On average, forklift operators in the United States earn over $40,900 annually. You’re likely to get paid more with more experience.

Get Forklift Certifications Through Thompson Lift Truck

Get Forklift Certifications Through Thompson Lift Truck

To maintain OSHA compliance, you must ensure your forklift operators are certified and remain certified while employed at your company. At Thompson Lift Truck, we do more than rent and sell forklifts and industrial equipment. We also provide forklift training materials to help you certify your operators. Whether your instructors use our materials or our professionals come to you, we’ll help you meet OSHA requirements.

To learn more about our forklift safety and training program, contact us today.

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