How to become forklift certified

Are you looking to kickstart a career that involves driving a forklift, or aiming to boost your job prospects in warehousing, construction, or logistics?

Getting forklift certified is a crucial step that not only opens up a plethora of job opportunities but also ensures you're up to speed with safety protocols and legal requirements.

This straightforward guide demystifies the process of obtaining your forklift certification, laying out the essentials in a way that's easy to grasp for beginners.

Whether you're entirely new to forklifts or seeking to formalize your skills with certification, this article is your go-to resource, designed to navigate you through the steps toward becoming a certified forklift operator.

With a focus on simplicity and accessibility, we're here to help you understand why forklift certification matters and how you can achieve it, setting you on the path to a rewarding career.

If you want to learn the overall process, let’s dive in. Read on…


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To Become Certified, You Need to Undergo the Training

To earn your forklift certification, undergoing forklift training is a necessary step.

This training equips you with the essential skills and knowledge to operate a forklift safely and efficiently. It covers a range of topics, from understanding the mechanics of a forklift and learning about different types of forklifts to mastering safety protocols and handling techniques.

Forklift training programs are designed to ensure that once you're behind the controls, you're not only competent but also confident in your ability to navigate the workplace safely.

Whether offered through online courses, at a vocational school, or on-site by an employer, completing this training is the foundation of becoming a certified forklift operator.

Two Ways to Take the Forklift Training

Forklift safety training is a vital part of doing business or getting employed. If you are an individual or company in need of such training, there are two ways you can choose to receive it:

Actual or In-Person

The most effective means of training delivery is through attending it in person. You can get forklift training at a school or private company near you. An individual or employer can register for a schedule, complete the classroom lecture, perform the practice test, and get evaluated by the instructor.

This method usually lasts for a day or 2 and depending on the type and extent of the course.

(We aimed at giving you the best help you can get. On this website, we have prepared a directory of training schools in every state/area, just select your location and check the list of schools where you can attend a forklift certification course.)

Online Certification

The second option is the online certification, it is another alternative to take the forklift training. This type of method simulates the classroom lecture, formal education, and evaluation of the course. However, this does not provide the students with a hands-on demonstration or actual operation of the forklift. Take this course now at the convenience of your home. 

Online training is the most convenient way of getting trained. If you don’t want to send your workers to school, you can have them take the online certification course instead. Several schools provide such training, find one by asking your colleagues.

What You Need to Be/Have in Order to Get Accepted in the Training

Age Requirements

To get started with forklift certification, you gotta be at least a certain age. Most places ask that you're 18 years old or over. This is pretty standard across the board, whether you're looking to work in a warehouse, on a construction site, or anywhere else a forklift is needed.

Educational and Training Prerequisites

Now, you don't need to have a pile of degrees to drive a forklift, but you do need to understand the basics of reading, writing, and some math. This helps you follow safety instructions and keep track of inventory if that's part of your job. Before you jump into forklift training, you might not need any special education or training, but being comfortable with these basics is key.

Health and Physical Requirements

Operating a forklift isn't just about sitting and driving. You need to be in good physical shape to handle the demands of the job. This means you should be able to move around comfortably, have good hand-eye coordination, and not have any major health issues that could make driving unsafe. Some places might ask you to pass a physical test, just to make sure you can do things like lift a bit of weight, reach controls easily, and generally move around without trouble.

Getting certified to drive a forklift is about making sure you're old enough, have a basic understanding of reading and math, and are physically up to the task. If you check these boxes, you're on your way to getting that certification and starting a new job path. 

Here's a Video That Explains Everything You Need To Undergo Forklift Certification


Before you go on, I would like to invite you to spend a little time reading these important articles, CHECK IT OUT:



If you are an Employer, here are some advices for your, READ these:

Where to Get Certified?

Here are the ways you can be certified.

First, you can opt to take the forklift training from a private school by enrolling in a course.

Second, the certification can be also taken through company sponsorship, if you’re presently employed, it is your company’s responsibility to provide such education. Lastly, you may find some community colleges in your area conducting free training once in a while.

If you are an individual without prior experience, the best choice for you is to take the course from the training school. If you are experienced and would like to get a skill upgrade, you can also take the training from the school.

If you are an employer or manager who wants to provide training to workers, you can hire an outside consultant from the training school to conduct the training on-site. This is an ideal way to deliver the course.

Choosing the Right Training Provider

When it comes to getting your forklift license, picking the right place to learn is super important. Here’s a simple breakdown of what to look out for:


Make sure the training center you choose is recognized and legit. This means they've got the thumbs up from official bodies to teach you properly. To check if they're accredited, you can usually find this info on their website or ask them directly. Going with an accredited place ensures you're getting quality training that meets all the standards.

Costs and Financing

Training isn't always cheap, but it's an investment in your future. Prices can vary, so shop around and see what different places offer. Some might have options to help you pay for it, like payment plans or maybe even help from your current job. It's worth asking about any deals or support they can offer to make it easier on your wallet.

Location and Schedule

Think about where the training center is and how their class times fit with your life. If it's too far away or the classes clash with your other commitments, it could be a hassle. Look for a place that's easy to get to and has classes at times you can actually attend. This way, you can learn without turning your life upside down.

Picking the right training provider is about balancing these three things to find the best fit for you. It’s all about making sure you get good training that doesn’t break the bank and fits into your daily life.

Choose the State Where You Want to Take the Forklift Certification

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming


If your state has its own State Plan, the forklift certification requirement may be different from that of OSHA, check with your state to determine the specifics and requirements.

Steps You Need to Take When Applying for a Forklift Certification 

To begin the process of certification, follow these six simple steps:


Step 1: Assess Yourself What Forklift You Want to Get Trained On

If you are a beginner you may be wondering why self-assessment is important. At this stage, you must choose what type of forklift truck you want to operate as OSHA says that the training course should be matched to the type of truck (and by “type,” OSHA is referring to the differences - a sit-down rider truck vs. a stand-up truck, or an order-picker vs. a counterbalance.)

After you have thoroughly assessed yourself and prepared what you need, find a training school where you want to take the course. On this website, you will also find a directory of training schools, just click the location/country where you are.

If you are currently employed, your employer must provide you with the training you need. It is the company's obligation to supply that for you.

Step 2: Enroll in a Forklift Certification Course

The role of the forklift training school is to impart knowledge based on the OSHA standard.

You have two (2) options to attend the course – either online or in-person.

If you choose to take the first one, you may find a private training institution on the internet that conducts online certification. We discourage you not to go this route. This training method does not comply with OSHA regulations, therefore, you cannot be assured that you can become forklift certified.

The best option for taking the forklift training is in-person. It only takes a day or two to complete the course.

And if you're too busy during the weekdays, you can take the training on weekends which is much more convenient.

Step 3: Attend the Classroom Lectures

This part of the course usually lasts for six (6) hours and the topics to be discussed focus mostly on OSHA regulations, general safety and health, forklift safe driving, and many other specialized subjects. At this part, trainees will learn helpful techniques in preventing workplace accidents that could lead to lost time injury (LTI), property damage, and injury.

Step 4: Pass the Written Examination

At the end of the 6-hour classroom lectures, trainees will be given a questionnaire to answer. Usually, the passing grade is 75% but it may differ depending on the training standard of the school.

The written test shall ensure that students have received enough knowledge from the lectures.

Step 5: Perform Hand-On Forklift Operation

When you completed the classroom lectures and passed the test, you're now ready to receive the hands-on training.

During the practical training, the trainer will demonstrate the actual forklift operation and the student will do the exercises. The purpose is to do the job in a safe and efficient approach.

The trainer will assign you to accomplish sets of duties which include pre-operational inspection, loading, lifting of materials at the elevated platform and more complex tasks such as maneuvering in tight spaces, lifting of heavy load, traveling on an incline and many others.

The practical training should not be taken lightly. This is where the trainer will rate your performance. Make him happy with your performance then you will be assured of passing the course.

Step 6: Evaluation

The trainer will make a performance evaluation based on the skill you exhibited driving the forklift.

When you completed the classroom lecture, passed the written test, and received a satisfactory rating during the hands-on driving. The trainer can now certify you.

You will receive your certification and/or forklift license card that you can present when applying for a job or when asked by your supervisor.

The certification expires every three years. You need to take the refresher training for its renewal. 

How Long Does It Take to Complete All These Steps?


Becoming forklift certified can be quicker than many people think. The time it takes can vary depending on the training program you choose, but here's a simple breakdown:

  • Short Courses: Some basic forklift training programs can be completed in just one day, especially if you're going for a straightforward, entry-level certification. These intensive courses usually last about 6 to 8 hours and cover both classroom learning and practical driving tests all in one shot.

  • Comprehensive Training: If you're looking for more in-depth training, especially if it includes specialized forklifts or more complex operating environments, it could take a few days to a week. These courses go more into detail and give you more hands-on practice time.

  • Part-Time Training: For those who need to fit their training around other commitments like work or school, there are part-time options that can spread out over several weeks. This way, you only need to commit a few hours per week to get certified.

After completing your training, you might receive your certification on the same day, once you pass the written and practical exams. So, in many cases, you could become certified in as little as one day, but for more comprehensive training, expect it to take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Cost of Forklift Certification

The very first thing that may pop up in your mind is how much forklift training costs. Let’s face it if you want to get quality training you need to spend some amount.

The cost of the training course is somewhere around $150 to $200 which is a small amount to pay considering the quality education you can obtain. The forklift training lasts for a day or two.  It requires some time to spend as well.

If you're presently employed, your employer is the one who will shoulder the cost. The training can be conducted onsite which is the ideal way of delivering it to the workers.

(You can refer to this forklift certification cost article if you want to know how much it costs to enroll for the training)

The benefits of having a forklift certification are as follows:  it makes you more attractive to get accepted for a job, long-term employment with your current employer and promotion to a higher position. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t have to take the forklift training.

(For the list of schools where you can take the training, just select your state or territory, there, we’ve prepared a directory of training schools you can enroll at)

How to Get Forklift Certification for Free

If you’re still out of luck and cannot afford to pay for school tuition, getting free training is the best way to go. There are several ways how to get forklift certification for free.

  • Find a community college near you, they usually conduct scheduled training in forklift operation, they sometimes give the training at no cost to local residents. For you to make sure you get an available slot, register in advance. To take advantage of this, you also need to know the requirements so that you can be prepared.

  • There are free online training such as this resource also. But please be reminded that online training can only provide the classroom part of the course, you still need to perform forklift operations and get evaluated for your performance to be fully certified.

  • If you’re presently employed and forklift operation is not in line with your work, show your determination to become an asset to the company by asking your supervisor if they could send you to the school to take a forklift training course. Your request will be more likely to be considered because they know they need employees who can do a sort of thing.

  •  Avail the government-funded training. This may not be commonly available in the US but in the UK and Australia, such benefits are accessible. You still have to submit requirements in order to get qualified. Grants and sponsorship are the ones available for individuals in the US.

If You've Been Trained a Few Years Ago, Is Your Forklift Certification Valid?

The simple answer is no. If you had taken the training more than 3 years ago, then you have to undergo the training again. The course curriculum must match the type of forklift you want to be certified on.

For workers who only use the forklift on an occasional basis, they still have to be trained and certified in its operation. Everyone who uses the forklift must be properly trained.

If you haven’t had the training for quite a while now and you’re presently employed, you may ask your employer to provide you with the training. It is the responsibility of the employer to keep their workers educated especially in the aspect of safety.

There are also some circumstances where you need to take the training even if the three-year requirement has not lapsed yet. Retraining is done in these situations:

  • When the three-year period is lapsing. Before that period, you are required to renew your certificate. To do this, you must take the refresher course.
  • When operators are not abiding by the safety rules of the company. When they are exhibiting a bad attitude operating the truck.
  • If the operator has been observed as unruly and practicing unsafe operation 
  • When the operator is rated to have a poor performance during the training 
  • If the operator is assigned to drive other types of trucks he is not familiar with 
  • If there are changes in the workplace setting 
  • If the operator is involved in an incident such as near misses and property damage 
  • If there’s a new truck introduced in the workplace



If You're an Employer, You Can Do This 

If you’re a business owner who is managing a large or even small number of operators, why don’t you conduct in-house training? This type of training is used by a wide range of companies to accommodate their need to supply their operators with proper training. It can save you a lot of money and time. In addition, you avoid the risk of getting cited for violation by OSHA.

By implementing an in-house training program for operators, you can appoint someone from the workers who is knowledgeable and experienced to deliver such training.

You will need forklift training materials in video and PowerPoint formats and certification cards. You can buy this from Amazon: 


OSHA Compliant Forklift Operator COMPLETE Training Kit + Train the Trainer BUNDLE! Certificates Of Completion, Operator Cards, Student Hand Outs, Hands On Evaluation Checklist, & More!



What Would Be the Fines If You Caught Without Certification

If you're caught operating a forklift without the proper certification, the consequences can be pretty serious. It's not just about getting in trouble; it's about the safety risks to you and everyone around you. Here's a simple breakdown of what might happen:

  1. For the Operator: If you're the one driving the forklift without certification, you could be immediately removed from operating the equipment. Depending on where you are and the policies of your workplace, you might also face disciplinary actions, which could range from a warning to losing your job.

  2. For the Employer: Employers have a big responsibility to make sure all their forklift operators are properly trained and certified. If they're found letting someone without certification drive a forklift, they could face hefty fines. In places like the United States, where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets the rules, fines can go into the tens of thousands of dollars for each violation. And if there are multiple violations found, those fines can add up fast.

  3. Legal and Insurance Issues: Besides fines, there could be legal and insurance headaches. If an accident happens and it's found that the operator was uncertified, insurance might not cover the damages. Plus, there could be lawsuits, which are costly and damaging to a company's reputation.

  4. Safety Risks: The biggest issue, though, is safety. Forklift accidents can cause serious injuries or even deaths. That's why certification is so important—it's proof that you know how to operate a forklift safely. Driving without certification means you might not be aware of how to handle the forklift in different situations, putting everyone at risk.

In short, the fines and consequences for operating a forklift without certification are no joke. It's about much more than just money; it's about keeping everyone safe. Always make sure you're certified before getting behind the controls. 


After Certification – What Next?

Congrats on getting your forklift certification! So, what's next? Here's a simple guide on keeping your certification up to scratch, finding a job, and leveling up your skills.

Maintaining Certification

Keeping your forklift license valid means a little bit of homework. Most certifications last for a few years, after which you’ll need to renew it. This might mean going back to class to brush up on your skills or taking a test to show you still know your stuff. Also, staying on top of any new rules or techniques by taking short courses or workshops can help keep you sharp and safe on the job.

Employment Opportunities

With your certification in hand, a bunch of job doors open up. Warehouses, construction sites, manufacturing plants, and shipping yards are just a few places that always need skilled forklift drivers. Jobs can vary, so you might be moving everything from boxes to big loads of construction materials. Plus, having a forklift certification can sometimes help you stand out when applying for jobs, even in areas you might not first think of, like certain retail positions or in the entertainment industry setting up events.

Advanced Training and Specializations

If you really want to go all in, there's more learning you can do. There are special classes for driving different types of forklifts or handling specific materials, like hazardous chemicals. Getting extra certifications can make you even more of a pro, open up higher-paying jobs, and show employers you're serious about your work. It's all about building on what you know and pushing your skills further.

After getting certified, it's all about keeping that certification up to date, finding a good job, and maybe even learning more to boost your career. It’s an exciting path, and you're just getting started!

Is Being Forklift Certified a Big Deal?

Getting certified to drive a forklift is really important for a bunch of reasons. First off, it's all about staying safe. When you're moving heavy stuff around, you want to make sure you're doing it right so nobody gets hurt, including yourself. There's also the fact that in a lot of places, you've got to be certified by law to drive a forklift. So if you're not, you and your boss could end up in hot water, like getting fined.

Having this certification can also make finding a job a lot easier. Employers are always on the lookout for folks who already know how to safely operate a forklift because it saves them time and money on training. Plus, being certified might even mean you get paid more. It shows you're serious about your work and have the skills they need.

It's not just about the pay or the job, though. Knowing you've got the training to handle these big machines can make you feel more confident at work. You'll be the go-to person for moving stuff around, and that can make your job more interesting and varied. So yeah, getting that forklift certification is a pretty big deal. It's good for you, it's good for your safety, and it's good for your career.

To Make a Conclusion

We now know the importance of forklift certification. It is required because a worker who operates a forklift without prior training becomes an immediate danger to others in the workplace.

If the company neglects the provision of training to the workers, the employer may face hefty fines and cited serious violations by OSHA. An individual who does not have a forklift license may have a difficult time getting accepted for the job.

The price of the training is just a small investment to pay but it could deliver a very big impact on your career or organization. Whatever your reason for taking the forklift training, always keep in mind to strive for the quality training, not the cost it entails.

We conclude this, we have provided the details and step-by-step instructions you need to follow on how to become forklift certified. I am ending this article by wishing you good luck with your career!

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