How to Get a Forklift License

Forklift operators don’t need a special license, but they do need training for forklift certification.

How to Get a Forklift License

A forklift operator is among the many jobs that you'll find in a warehouse.

Forklift drivers are essential to companies across industries—from warehouses to construction sites. They keep heavy materials moving quickly and safely. The good news? All that's required to get started as a forklift driver is a high school diploma and a driver's license. In fact, there's no need to know how to get a forklift license at all. Instead of a license, forklift drivers need a certification that they've received specific training for the vehicle they operate.

Strap yourself in to learn all you need to know about how to become a forklift driver.

What Does a Forklift Operator Do?

Companies use forklifts both inside and outside to move large and heavy materials around warehouses, factories, storage yards, and worksites. There are seven classes of forklift trucks, ranging from hand-controlled push or pull forklifts that run on battery power to internal combustion engine trucks with pneumatic tires that maneuver over rough terrain. The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) refers to all of these as powered industrial trucks.

Forklift jobs are usually hourly and full-time. Overtime is common and may include overnight shifts, especially in warehouse jobs.

Forklift operator duties vary depending on the worksite and type of material being moved. They may include:

  • Setting up and inspecting forklift equipment.
  • Making minor repairs to the equipment.
  • Controlling equipment with levers, wheels, or foot pedals.
  • Moving material according to a plan or schedule.
  • Signaling and directing workers to load, unload, and position materials.
  • Keeping a record of what you move and where you move it.

For more information on what a forklift driver does on the job, check out Monster's forklift operator job description.

How to Become a Forklift Driver

Becoming a forklift driver right out of high school is relatively easy. Some, but not all, employers require you to have a high school diploma or GED along with a driver's license or commercial driver's license.

What Kinds of Forklifts Do Drivers Operate?

Before you learn how to get a forklift license or certification, you need to know what type of forklift you will operate. Each vehicle drives differently and has its own unique safety requirements:

  • Class I: Electric Motor Rider Trucks
  • Class II: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
  • Class III: Electric Motor Hand Trucks or Hand/Rider Trucks
  • Class IV: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks (Solid/Cushion Tires)
  • Class V: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks (Pneumatic Tires)
  • Class VI: Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors
  • Class VII: Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks

How to Get a Forklift License

Luckily, you don't need a forklift license to operate a forklift. But before you get behind the wheel (or handle), your employer must fulfill OSHA requirements and certify that you have received the proper forklift safety training.

How to Get Forklift Certification

There are two ways to get certified to use a forklift: by your new employer or by an outside organization, such as the National Forklift Foundation. Although it is an employer's responsibility to ensure that all employees are trained on how to operate machinery safely, getting forklift operator certification before you apply for jobs can raise you above other candidates. Here's how it works:

  • If you receive training on the job, your employer will usually have you sign an agreement that confirms you know how to operate the vehicle and understand and promise to follow all safety rules.
  • If you learn how to operate a forklift by taking outside forklift certification classes, the organization will provide you with a certification to show your future employer. You'll find many online forklift certification classes that allow you to print a certificate when you complete the course.

Either way you receive your certification is valid. Forklift training will teach you a number of important abilities, including:

  • Operating instructions, warnings, and precautions for your forklift.
  • The differences between a forklift truck and an automobile.
  • The location of controls and instrumentation, what they do, and how they work.
  • Steering and maneuvering.
  • How to attach, adapt, and operate the fork.
  • Vehicle capacity and stability.
  • How to inspect and maintain the forklift.
  • How to refuel and charge batteries.

Forklift Refresher Training

Your employer will evaluate your driving performance and refresh your training at least once every three years. You might have to take a forklift test to make sure you remember your previous training. You'll also require refresher training if someone reports you for operating a forklift unsafely or you're involved in an accident or a near-miss accident.

If you are assigned to drive a different type of forklift, you'll need training on that. And if your workplace renovates or changes significantly, you'll need to learn how to maneuver around the new space.

How Much Do Forklift Drivers Make?

Monster data shows the median forklift operator salary is $14.56 per hour. Pay can vary depending on where you live and what type of forklift you operate. You can look up the average salary for forklift operators in your location using the Monster Salary Guide.

How to Find Forklift Operator Jobs

It's a good idea to present a forklift operator resume when you apply for a job, along with filling out an application. Be sure to include any forklift driving classes you've taken and certifications you've earned. List the types of forklifts and other machinery you've operated. If you have an outstanding safety record, highlight that too.

You can find job opportunities for forklift operators within warehouses across the country. For example: Pomona, CAIndependence, MOSterling Heights, MISugar Land, TX; and Tempe, AZ, all have ample warehouse jobs open. You can search for forklift jobs on Monster to get an idea of what employers are looking for.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies the following as the top five states and areas with the most forklift operators:



Get a Move on Finding a Forklift Operator Job

It turns out you don't need to know how to get a forklift license; you just need the right training and a certification. So how do you lift yourself above other job-seekers when you apply for jobs? Create a profile for free on Monster so that recruiters and companies will be able to find you for the best forklift jobs in your area.