How to Get a Forklift Operator Certification

Retail e-commerce sales worldwide have increased around 165% in the last five years. Each day, warehouses and shipping centers are becoming more and more necessary to do business and meet the market's growing demands. According to the BLS (US Bureau of Labor Statistics), most of the demand for new forklift drivers comes from the warehousing field, and this demand will continue to rise as more consumers choose to shop online and purchase products that require shipment.

The typical forklift operator job description includes tasks like:

  • Maneuvering forklifts safely in busy industrial environments
  • Safely stacking and unstacking large quantities of goods onto shelves or pallets
  • Moving goods from storage areas to loading areas for transport
  • Unloading deliveries and safely relocating the goods to their designated storage areas
  • Ensuring that forklift driving areas are free from spills or obstructions
  • Regularly checking forklift equipment for faults or damages
  • Using industrial plastic wraps and wooden pallets to safely stack and package goods for transport
  • Keeping up to date on health and safety requirements and forklift operating procedures
  • Consolidating partial pallets for incoming goods

In our previous article about forklift drivers, we covered the skills needed to perform this type of work. Now, let's discuss the technical skills in detail. 

How to get a forklift certification?

You can earn your forklift operator certification by taking an OSHA-approved course either in person or online. These courses include classroom work, a written test and hands-on training and evaluation. The whole training and certification process can be completed within one to two days.

Get to know the types of forklifts and which one you'll be operating

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are seven different classifications of forklifts, you can learn all details about each one of them here.

  • Class 1: Electric motor, sit-down rider, counterbalanced trucks
  • Class 2: Electric motor narrow aisle trucks
  • Class 3: Electric motor hand trucks or hand/rider trucks
  • Class 4: Internal combustion engine trucks
  • Class 5: Internal combustion engine trucks
  • Class 6: Electric and internal combustion engine tractors
  • Class 7: Rough terrain forklift


Sign up for a course

There are several options for OSHA-approved training programs across the country, you can do an online research to find the most convenient option in your area. Many employers offer to cover your certification when you start, vocational schools and community centers can also help you on this.

Watch all the classes

Take the classroom-style training, making sure you fully understand the concepts and ask all relevant questions. Remember there will be a written test (covering all types of equipment) and a hands-on evaluation after that, so make sure you're getting the best out of these classes.

Pass the written test

Once you finish the classroom work, it's time to go through a written test where you're expected to score at least 75% in order to move forward to the next phase.

Hands-on training

If you achieve the 75% needed on your written test, you will move to the practical phase of your certification. It's now time to practice on forklift equipment - forklift inspection, loading materials, lifting loads, navigating tight spaces and working on inclines. The trainer will evaluate your performance based on your skills, safety and efficiency. If you're taking the course with your employer, their team will make this evaluation themselves.

Receive the evaluation and certification

If both your written and hands-on tests are satisfactory, you get a certificate with your name, your training and evaluation date and the person who trained and evaluated you. 

How much does it cost and how long does it last?

Costs vary depending on the program. In-person training usually costs between $150 and $200, online courses are cheaper at around $50. Because employers are required to have certified forklift operators, companies usually pay for your training. OSHA requires forklift operators to be recertified every three years. 



Interested in becoming a certified forklift operator? Shiftfillers have many great opportunities, check out our openings today!