What Do I Need to Become Forklift Certified?

A forklift license is a must for any business operating forklifts. Check out this article to learn how your employees can become forklift certified in no time!


Given that there are nearly 35,000 forklift-related injuries every year, even with the safety standards we have in place, there are still accidents that happen.

To ensure that everyone at your workplace is safe and protected, OSHA recommends that employers give everyone proper training. If you’re looking to become forklift certified, you need to know the steps to take.

Here are the five most important steps in getting forklift certified.

1. Learn The Meaning of Certification

When people say that they have a forklift license, they really mean that they have a certification.

Their certificate tells their employers that they have proven that they’re qualified to operate the equipment they work with. OSHA requires that every employer certifies the training and that the application that the employee will be using the forklift for has been approved.

Certifications will show the name of the operator who has been certified as by OSHA. The date of the training and the evaluation will be noted so that the certification can be verified. Other information listing the identity of the person who gave the certification will be included for additional verification.

For employers, OSHA requires certification. They need every employer to confirm that their operators have been trained and evaluated for the safety of other workers and to comply with their own insurance. Avoiding lawsuits is tantamount to the survival of any business.

2. Get To Know The Certification Process

There’s no one way to run a certification process, as it can vary based on who is running the training. Formal training on the operation of forklifts must be provided by the instructor, however, this can take lots of forms.

You could learn about forklift operation via a formal lecture, online course, or watching videos online. There are often written materials and study guides to offer operation and safety information. So long as you get adequate information about every level of operation, it will likely fulfill the requirements.

OSHA requires that hands-on training takes place at the place where you’ll be working, likely the warehouse or job site. Your training needs to be done by experienced workers who know how to train someone on a forklift.

That way, the operators you’re learning from will be trained and certified in the specific kind of work that you’ll be doing and the problems that can arise.

Once you finish training, you need to get evaluated. You’ll be asked to perform work on your job site. The evaluation criteria is set up by OSHA and covers specific work-related issues.

3. Get To Know Who To Learn From

Not just any person can run a forklift training and certification. When you’re looking for a forklift training near you, you won’t find too many generalized classes for learning. OSHA doesn’t give some kind of standardized training for forklift drivers.

Your forklift certification is likely going to come from your employer or from a third-party agency.

You’ll have to do your own investigation into who you’re going to be getting your certification from.

If you need someone who runs OSHA certifications by the book, you’ll need to run your own inquiry about how they abide by OSHA standards.

A certified forklift dealer can help by giving comprehensive training materials to the companies they sell forklifts to. They have advanced knowledge on safety and maintenance requirements that can inform new forklift drivers about what to expect.

Contacting a dealer might give you some useful insight into where to get training or what to ask from your training.

4. Different Certificates for Different Forklifts

Much like how there are different certifications required for different kinds of vehicle drivers, training will vary by the type of forklift that you choose to drive. Just because someone knows how to drive a type of forklift doesn’t necessarily mean they’re qualified for all forklifts.

Every forklift system is different from the next so each type of machine will require operators to do a different kind of training. Every employer is responsible for ensuring their employees know the specifics of their forklift type.

The materials provided by forklift dealers should note what is specific to the type of forklift that is being trained for. Every workplace will also employ forklifts differently so training needs to take this into account as well.

5. Taking A Written Test

While there’s a practical element to the forklift test, since you need to know the mechanics of the machine, there is often a written portion. If you can explain what is needed to work with a forklift, you can surely think through the process each time you use one.

Knowing that an employee is properly trained and knowledgeable about the process of using a forklift in writing isn’t specifically required by OSHA. This type of training is up to each employer to implement. However, since some form of evaluation will be required to confirm that the driver is certified, a written test is a great piece of insurance in this case.

Rather than having to come up with a complicated set of criteria for ranking the driving skills of an operator, a written test is a good stand-in. Some states require a written test be administered via an OSHA-approved program for health and safety standards.

Forklift operator certification will look different depending on where you’re located or the job that needs to get done.

Getting Forklift Certified Is Good For Everyone

If you’re interested in getting forklift certified, you’re making a good decision for everyone. Not only will you be eligible for more employment opportunities, but you’ll be able to ensure that worksites you’re at are safer and more productive.

Responsible forklift drivers are always in short supply.

Once you’ve gotten certified, follow our guide for ensuring that you know how to sell yourself to companies.

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