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Next Certificate Program Start: 07/29/2024  |  Next Associate Degree Program Start: 10/07/2024



How To Get Forklift Certified – FAQs About Forklift Certification

Being able to operate a forklift is a valuable skill that can help you get ahead in your career. However, as you may already know, to operate one you need to have a forklift operator license. At the Heavy Equipment Colleges of America, we know that many people have questions about forklift certification. The following information should help to answer many of your queries and concerns.

What Is Forklift Certification?

It is a certificate that shows that the holder has been trained and evaluated to be able to safely and correctly handle a forklift. The training must be certified, per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rules.

This is often provided by employers at their expense. So, workers who have already received a forklift license will have a leg up over others in the field.

Do You Need To Be Certified?

Yes, OSHA requires that forklift operators be trained and licensed under the rule OSHA 1910.178(i)(6). Although many workers may want to simply get started using forklifts, this requirement is valuable for everyone involved. It helps to ensure that these pieces of equipment will be used properly and safely in the workplace.

A large percentage of forklift accidents are the result of driver error from carelessness or unfamiliarity. Research shows that organizations with certified operators and other controls such as pre-shift equipment inspections can achieve a dramatic drop in accidents.

Forklift Certification

What Is Involved in the Certification Process?

The process for completing forklift operator training is fairly simple. It involves theory, hands-on training, and examination. These the steps for how to get forklift certified:

Identify the Type: First, you need to know which type of forklift you will be using. This can be a stand-up, sit-down, counterbalance, and a few other types. In some cases, you can get certified on multiple types.
Take a Class: Next, you will take an OSHA-approved course. This is sometimes provided by employers but can also be offered through formal classes.
Pass the Written Exam: Before practicing with the forklift, you will need to take a written exam. This will show that you have a sufficient understanding of operating procedures.
Complete Practical Training: After passing the written exam, you will start practicing with the forklift. This will be under the supervision of an experienced trainer. It can include pre-use inspection, load management, maneuvering, and more.
Pass a Final Exam: Finally, you will be examined by the instructor to ensure you can perform all necessary maneuvers safely. This is combined with your written exam to get your certification.

How Long Does the Certification Last?

A forklift operator certification lasts for three years. If you want to renew it, you can complete a recertification exam. The steps for this are a lot like those for how to get certified for forklift driving initially. However, you will likely require less instruction. There may be a short forklift operator training and an exam. You can expect recertification to take less than a day.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Forklift License?

This depends on the setup. If you are only pursuing certification for a single type of forklift, you can likely complete it in a day or two. However, if you are getting certified on multiple types or for other equipment at the same time, it may take longer.

Are There Any Medical Requirements Such as Vision Testing?

No, you do not need to complete a formal medical exam such as a hearing or vision test. However, it is important to be able to safely operate the equipment. Therefore, many instructors will expect you to be able to demonstrate accurate and timely responses to visual and audio cues. You should always wear corrective lenses or hearing aids while operating a forklift if you need them.


Are There Any Ongoing Training Requirements?

You need to be recertified every three years. This will include being familiar with any equipment, process, or regulatory changes that may have happened. However, as long as you can pass an examination, you will not need any additional training outside of your recertification process.

Do All States Have the Same Requirements?

No, some states have their own rules set by their workplace safety regulatory bodies. The information on this page is based on the national rules set by OSHA. States can only set stricter rules than those set by OSHA. Typically, the process will be the same, however. The training may just be more in-depth in certain states.

Forklift Safety Tips

Forklift training is heavily focused on safety. While you need to demonstrate that you can complete work with a forklift, the main emphasis of examination is on doing so safely. The following safety tips will help you to do that:

• Always inspect the forklift before the beginning of the shift. If you are unsure whether someone has inspected it, do so yourself.
• Never carry any passengers. People should only be riding a forklift in approved positions (typically only the operator should be on the equipment). Never use the forks or anything loaded on them to carry a person.
• Focus on keeping the load even and secure. All cargo should be properly loaded and, if necessary, tied down. Loads should be tilted backward (to cradle them) when the equipment is in motion.
• Maneuver carefully at all times. Keep to a safe and steady speed while avoiding close proximity to people or other equipment as much as possible.

The Heavy Equipment Industry and COVID19 Pandemic

During the first half of 2020, the COVID19 pandemic shook the working world. This is as true for heavy equipment operators and warehouse staff as it is for anyone else. Fortunately, many warehouses have implemented effective safety procedures to allow continued operations.

Always follow workplace rules to ensure everyone’s safety. This may include wearing a mask, using gloves, regularly sanitizing equipment, and more.

Get Certified Today

The Heavy Equipment Colleges of America can help you learn how to use equipment similar to forklifts. Programs at HEC are a great way to get ahead in your career. Find a location near you to learn more.



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