How To Become A Certified Forklift Operator With No Experience

Forklift operators have become an important part of the economy. The U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that between 2020 and 2030, this profession will grow by an estimated 7%. 

To pursue a career as a forklift operator, it’s important that you get certified as it will open doors for more opportunities for you.

In this article, we will describe the steps on how to become a certified forklift operator with no experience. 

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How To Become A Certified Forklift Operator With No Experience

First and foremost, you must get your certification by taking any OSHA-approved course. Once certified, you can proceed to secure a job.

A common way eventual forklift drivers take is by working their way up through the ranks in a warehouse. This means that you start in an entry-level position and advance to the position of a forklift driver. 

You can also apply directly to a company or establishment and if chance favors you, you will undergo onsite training under the supervision of warehouse managers or supply chain managers.

Also, employers have their 0960 requirements that they require from candidates. You should enquire about the company you are applying for and ensure you meet the necessary requirements. 

Who Is A Forklift Operator?

Also known as a forklift driver, a forklift operator is a professional responsible for transporting goods with the use of industrial machinery. 

They are also responsible for loading, unloading, storing, and delivering large and heavy objects from storage facilities, trucks, loading docks, etc. 

Usually, forklift operators work under the supervision of warehouse managers, supply chain managers, or foremen at construction sites. 

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Who Is A Certified Forklift Operator? 

A certified forklift operator is one that has undergone an OSHA training course and has been licensed to operate industrial machinery (e.g forklift).

This certification or license attests that you can safely maintain and operate a forklift, identify and avoid safety hazards and take the necessary steps to minimize risk. 

Whether experienced or not, gaining certification is one of the quickest and surest ways of securing valuable employment. 

How To Become A Certified Forklift Operator

As with many other job applications, there will be candidates with more experience than you but having your certification is the first step to getting your foot in the door. 

The Occupational Safety Health Administration, OSHA mandates forklift operators to be certified before operating a forklift or any other heavy machinery. 

OSHA-approved courses include classroom work, a written test, and hands-on training and evaluation and these courses can be taken online or in person. 

To become a certified forklift operator, you should take the following steps;

1. Determine The Type Of Forklift Certification

OSHA classifies powered industrial trucks into seven different types. It is important you receive training related to the particular type of truck you will be operating. The seven classes of powered trucks include;

  • Electric motor, sit-down rider, counterbalanced trucks (solid and pneumatic tires)
  • Electric motor narrow aisle trucks (solid tires)
  • Electric motor hand trucks or hand/rider trucks (solid tires)
  • internal combustion engine trucks (solid tires)
  • Internal combustion engine trucks (pneumatic tires)
  • Electric and internal combustion engine tractors (solid and pneumatic tires)
  • Rough terrain forklift (pneumatic tires)

2. Sign Up For A Certification Course

The next step is to register for a certification course. You can find an OSHA-approved training program through your employer, forklift dealers, and local community colleges or vocational schools. The certification involves two phases which include classroom-style training and hands-on evaluation.

3. Take The Classes

The coursework of the training includes safety, OSHA rules, driving techniques, and forklift maintenance. The training must meet OSHA standards and each class typically lasts for six to eight hours. The classes may feature lectures, videos, or written educational materials. 

4. Pass The Written Exam

Typically, at the end of every course, there is an examination to test you. After taking your classes, you will be required to take and pass an examination, scoring at least 75% to proceed with your training. 

5. Complete Hands-On Training

This is the second phase of your certification process. After passing your exam, you will be expected to demonstrate the sis you acquired during your training. 

The hands-on training includes forklift inspection, working on inclines, navigating tight spaces, lifting loads, and loading materials. Your trainer will grade you based on skills, safety, and efficiency.

If you are already employed in a company that makes use of forklifts, your hands-on training might be done in your workplace and your employer may be the one who assesses your abilities. 

6. Final Evaluation

This is the last stage. Here, your instructor evaluates your overall performance. He carries out this evaluation based on your written exam score and driving rating. 

In the case where you take an online course, you wi be rated based on your written exam and classroom lecture portions. 

If you are experienced and seeking to update your certification, online training is commonly the best option.

If your performance is satisfactory, you will be certified. Only a qualified trainer or your employer can certify you to operate a forklift. 

Once certified, you will receive a forklift license that includes the holder’s name, evaluation, training date, and signature of the instructor.

The certification is very important as it helps reduce the number of injuries and accidents due to unsafe operation of equipment in the workplace. 

Key Takeaways

  • If you are opting for online certification courses, ensure that they cover the required topics and are OSHA-approved. 
  • Not all online courses are paid; some are free
  • Although some of the courses are free, they charge a fee for the certificate
  • Paid courses are very affordable. Their prices range from $20 – $100

Importance Of A Forklift Certification Training 

As an individual who wants to pursue a career as a forklift operator, it’s essential to have a forklift certification. It affirms that you can properly operate the machine and reduce the risks associated with it. The importance of a certification in Forklifting is as follows;

For An Employee

  • It reduces the risk of injury
  • Ensures that you are well trained on various equipment
  • It contributes to job stability and possible promotions

For An Employer

  • It ensures the workplace is safer 
  • It accounts for less equipment and property damage
  • Because it reduces the risk of mistakes and accidents, it results in more productivity and saves time and money 
  • It keeps insurance rates low
  • Lowers the risk of lawsuits
  • Low insurance rates

Note: OSHA has the authority to impose large fines on an employer who recruits unlicensed forklift operators. 

Also, forklift operators are not the only ones who need a forklift certification. Inventory clerks, shipping clerks, and restock and order pickers are some other occupations that require this certification. 

Responsibilities Of A Forklift Operator

  • Loads and unloads  materials and merchandise from incoming vehicles
  • Stacks materials at assigned places 
  • Ensures that goods are safe and secure
  • Identifies damages 
  • Reports shortages or quality deficiencies
  • Transports raw materials to production sites
  • Transports products to pallets or crates for storage 
  • Inspects machinery to ensure they are in proper working conditions
  • Schedules vehicles for maintenance and repairs
  • Operates and manages technical equipment
  • Secures loads to the machine before transportation
  • Optimizes loads to ensure operations efficiency
  • Performs regular maintenance to guarantee safety
  • Keeps an up-to-date record of inventory
  • Maintains activity logs  
  • Maintains a safe work environment
  • Identifies workplace safety hazards
  • Adheres to production schedules
  • Complies with company policies and legal guidelines
  • Picking and wrapping orders for shipment

How Much Do Forklift Operators Make?

Forklift Operators can expect to make an average of $17.37 per hour in the United States. This, however, depends on the level of experience, state and city you reside in, and employer. 

Forklift Operator Requirements

  • Must have a clear vision

Forklift operators are required to have excellent sight to be able to see moving objects when moving or driving. 

  • Must be agile

The job description includes climbing on and off equipment, loading, unloading, and stacking cargo. Hence it’s necessary to be physically agile.

  • Should possess mechanical skills

Because forklift operators work with machinery, it’s expected that you should have some basic mechanical skills. 

  • Coordination

It’s essential to have excellent hand-eye-foot coordination when working with heavy equipment. To effectively and efficiently control and guide machinery, your hands and feet need to be steady as you will have to use hand controls to navigate your machine through tight spaces, and uneven surfaces. 

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must possess at least a GED or high school diploma
  • Should have a valid forklift certification
  • Mathematica aptitude
  • Must be knowledgeable in operating technical machinery and RF scanners
  • Must be detail-oriented
  • Should have good organizational skills. 
  • Must have good communication skills
  • Must be patient 
  • Must be flexible

Usually, Forklift safety training requirements are the same everywhere. Employers are expected to comply with the rules of OSHA for you to become a forklift operator. 

Cost Of Earning A Forklift Certification 

Every good thing comes at a price. To have quality training, you will have to pay for it. Do not be scared though, forklift certifications are not as expensive as you may think. 

Training will cost roughly between $50 and $250 which is a fair price for what you will be receiving. 

Forklift certification usually lasts for two or three days depending on where you receive your training and courses run about six to eight hours of classroom earning along with hands-on equipment training in a warehouse.

The Benefits Of Being Pre-Certified

More and more companies rely on forklift operators as they play a very important role. They are convenient,  make the hardest jobs seem easy, and are in high demand in today’s market. 

Being a certified forklift operator increases your potential of having a rewarding and stable career. Here are some of the benefits of being a pre-certified forklift operator;

1. Multiple Job Opportunities

Peradventure you work in a forklift company, you can advance your career by starting as a forklift operator. But to do this you have to improve your skillset. 

Having the necessary skills and qualifications (certifications) increases your value and provides you with an opportunity to make more money.

Employers will be willing to pay more if you bring more to the table. And in the business of forklifts which is hazardous, employers are willing to hire and pay certified operators because they can be certain they will carry out their efficiency with safety as a watchword. 

Your certification also gives you an edge over other candidates as your potential employers or employers would not need to spend time and resources trying to get you certified. 

The certification also shows that you are proactive with your career and ready to take on responsibility and it improves your resume. 

2. Forklift Safety

Forklift certification affirms that you are able to keep yourself and other employees and be safe. Most accidents that happen in manufacturing and construction sites are caused by forklifts.  A major part of forklift training revolves around safety compliance. 

3. Legal Compliance 

Having a certification implies that you comply with the safety regulations of your workplace as a forklift operator. OSHA’s standard requires that all forklift operators be certified. Like we said earlier, employers and employees found violating this rule risk facing legal issues and paying hefty fines. 

4. Saves On Costs

During your training, you wi cover areas on basic maintenance of the machine. With this skill, you will be able to handle maintenance issues which of course saves your employer money. And with regular maintenance and servicing, the forklift will function better and the life span will be elongated. 

How To Get A Job As A Certified Forklift Operator With No Experience

Getting a job in any industry can be tough especially when you have no prior experience but with the right information, you can be one step ahead. 

1. Gain Warehouse Skills

Although you may ac experience as a forklift driver, you can begin your career by starting with an entry-level rope such as receiver, picker/packer, or general warehouse associate to become familiar with the warehouse environment. This way you can be able to connect with the staff and management and learn more about the different types of forklifts, and their operating system. 

2. Dig Into Online Resources

You can find many forklift operator videos on YouYube. Even though you’ve been certified, having extra knowledge wouldn’t hurt. These videos cover all courses from safety to common forklift driver mistakes. The videos will help you by giving you an idea of what to look out for.

3. Have The Right Attitude

To get the attention of your hiring managers or interviewers, you would have to make a significant impression. 

Right from your appearance to your skills and qualifications down to your attitude, you bring your A game. 

Employers love to work with individuals who are willing to work and communicate effectively. Show them you are the man for the job by going the extra mile. Do some research on the company you are interviewing for and do well to ask some informed questions during the interview. 

Asking question show that you have an interest in the business and you are willing and prepared to learn. 

Here are a few things employers look out for in an interview;

  • Willingness to learn
  • Proactivity
  • Ambition
  • Teamwork skills
  • Sense of responsibility and ownership over work
  • Goal orientation
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Critical thinking
  • A clear understanding of strengths and weaknesses
  • Sound judgment
  • Ability to identify other successes in life out of the field of work

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Job Of A Forklift Operator With No Experience?

A forklift operator with no experience is responsible for operating a forklift in a warehouse, hardware store, lumber yard, manufacturing facility, winery, brewery, or any other site that requires lifting heavy materials with a forklift. 
Your duty is to lift pallets that have been loaded with boxes or other packaged materials and transport them to an assigned spot. As a forklift operator, you are required to carry out maintenance and repairs to your equipment. 

How To Become A Forklift Operator With No Experience

To become a forklift operator with no experience, you will need to meet certain requirements including having a high school diploma or GED certificate and a forklift operator license. The license or certification is essential because, without it, you would not be allowed to operate a forklift. 

Are Different Certifications Needed For Different Forklift Types?

The certification covers all types of forklifts. Your employer is responsible of ensuring that operators receive proper training and a capable of operating the equipment.

Where Can I Get Certified?

You can get certified at a oca community coege, vocationa schoo or forift deaer. If you are empoyed, your empoyer can provide you with the required training. 

How Long Does My Certification Last?

The Occupational Safety Heath Administrtion, OSHA, demands that forklift operators be recertified every three years. They aso carry out re-evauation if;
You were involved in an accident or near-miss incident.
You operated the equipment unsafely
There is a deficiency in your evaluation.
You were assigned to operate different type of forklift
Your employee makes changes to the workplace that might affect safe operation.

Do I Need A Driver’s License?

A drivers icense is not a requirement under federal OSHA laws to operate a forklift. The license you need is your forklift certification. 


You can become a certified forklift operator with no experience. Apart from your forklift certification you still need to have other qualifications including having a high school diploma or its equivalent. An OSHA-approved certification is very crucial as you cannot legally operate a forklift without one. 

You can learn to operate heavy equipment as part of an apprenticeship or your certification program. Having a forklift certification is a great way to open up new job opportunities and also a great way to get a promotion.

Experience is a key factor when it comes to employment but there are still employers who will hire you and teach you on the job. Alternatively, you can reach out to placement agencies after you have gotten your forklift license. 

We hope this article has been helpful. Kindly share and leave a comment in the section below. 

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